Former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani writes in the WSJ that the violence in the Middle East has nothing to do with the anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube, but that Islamists are using the video as an excuse to build power and humiliate those who espouse Judeo-Christianity or western viewpoints:
The attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions this week—beginning in Egypt and Libya, and moving to Yemen and other Muslim countries—came under cover of riots against an obscure online video insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. But the mob violence and assaults should be seen for what they really are: an effort by Islamists to garner support and mobilize their base by exacerbating anti-Western sentiments.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to calm Muslims Thursday by denouncing the video, she was unwittingly playing along with the ruse the radicals set up. The United States would have been better off focusing on the only outrage that was of legitimate interest to the American government: the lack of respect—shown by a complaisant Egyptian government and other Islamists—for U.S. diplomatic missions.
Protests orchestrated on the pretext of slights and offenses against Islam have been part of Islamist strategy for decades. Iran’s ayatollahs built an entire revolution around anti-Americanism. While the Iranian revolution was underway in 1979, Pakistan’s Islamists whipped up crowds by spreading rumors that the Americans had forcibly occupied Islam’s most sacred site, the Ka’aba or the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Pakistani protesters burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.
Violent demonstrations in many parts of the Muslim world after the 1989 fatwa—or religious condemnation—of a novel by Salman Rushdie, or after the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005, also did not represent spontaneous outrage. In each case, the insult to Islam or its prophet was first publicized by Islamists themselves so they could use it as justification for planned violence.
My son-in-law is a Christian Arab from the Middle East. After he watched the video on YouTube and looked at the timeline of events, he came to the conclusion that the video was actually made by an Islamist group so that they could have an excuse to wreak havoc.
His problem with the video is that it is too puerile to be taken as the work of anyone seriously wanting to make a statement. Rather, it has all the earmarks of something made by an agent provocateur–a Muslim wanting to stir up trouble.
Further, the protesters had to have had advance timing as to when the video would be released or it would have been impossible to coordinate their activities to coincide with September 11. However, since this video was largely unpublicized before it was released, and we are still unsure who was behind it, how could they have had advanced warning unless they were somehow involved in making it?
While I see my son-in-law’s point, until there is hard proof as to who manufactured the video and what their motives were, I am unconvinced. In the meantime, there is no doubt that all of this is manufactured outrage designed to empower Islamist thugs at the expense of others. Haqqani gets it right. Instead of being cowed by their activities and apologizing, Haqqani believes that we need to defend and promote western values such as free speech, as this is the only hope for the Muslim world. He adds further:
[T]he U.S. would do well to remember Osama bin Laden’s comment not long after the Sept. 11 attacks: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” America should do nothing that enables Islamists to portray the nation as the weak horse.