IT’S all so predictable. Someone sets out to provoke Muslims with perhaps the most amateurish, inept and unconvincing piece of footage ever published – Innocence of Muslims – and are duly obliged with a massive over-reaction.
Just as with the Danish cartoon scandals of 2006, the extremists sought to prove Islam is a religion of peace by killing a few Christians and burning churches, so they prove religious maturity by rioting.
The richest irony is that no one would have noticed this ham-fisted message of hate without the worldwide exposure given by those wanting to silence it. What has brought shame on Islam has been the ugliness of a few Muslims.
It’s new and disturbing to see this in Australia, though. The rage is not really about the obviously silly film but wider resentments. The rioters ache to be provoked, to express their rage and humiliation. In chat rooms and social media they are alert for every slight.
In Australia, as Muslims integrate into mainstream society they learn to take the rough with the smooth – Christians and secularists are both used to vitriolic contempt from the far fringes of the other side – but there is no such impetus in Middle Eastern countries where the violence is really dangerous.
Nor is it all about religion, which is a convenient catch-all to express resentments – the context is far broader. The post-war pan-Arab movement was secular, but grew out of the same colonial humiliation; its failure and other historical developments, such as the Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah in Iran in 1979, have led to religion replacing nationalism.
In Australia, the majority of ordinary Muslims sigh and take a deep breath. They feel they shouldn’t have to disown this fringe again, but they must, and Muslim leaders and organisations have. And by extension people of all faiths get implicated. For example, The Age yesterday ran a letter with a call to categorise Christianity, Islam and Judaism ”terrorist organisations”. It’s time for everyone to take a deep breath and respond to what is actually happening, not their prejudices.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.