Islam vs Tolerance Debated in Prophet Film’s Wake
Behind the anger over a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad, public protest is giving way to measured debate over free speech in the new Muslim world.
But while many crave more openness, few if any will go so far as to say that includes the right to blaspheme.
Angry shouts of “No, no to America!” and “No to Israel!” have been balanced by voices condemning the weeklong violence that has targeted U.S. and other Western embassies and left more than 30 dead in seven countries, including Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“Muslims should know that Islamic extremist groups bear some responsibility for the uproar taking place now, and for the collision of the world cultures,” said Sheik Hameed Marouf, a Sunni cleric in Baghdad.
“The moderate people and clerics in the Islamic world should do their best to isolate and stop such groups that do not represent the true moderate values of our religion.”
Religious extremists — whether Muslim, Jewish or Christian — “will lead only to more killings and more blasphemous acts,” he said.
Anger is still palpable over the anti-Islam video made in California, as well as French political cartoons that denigrate Muhammad, but most of the Arab world has not seen protests for much of this week.
The streets around the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, where clashes raged for days, were relatively quiet Thursday. Egyptian security forces patrolling the area casually leaned their rifles against the same compound walls that were scaled by angry protesters just last week.