‘Innocence of Muslims’: Governments and Islamists Exploit Film Protests
The protests against “Innocence of Muslims” are not just spontaneous outbreaks of rage. Radical Islamists and governments are exploiting the unrest for their own ends. In the process, it is hard for moderate Muslims to make their voices heard. By SPIEGEL Staff
On Sept. 14, shortly before the black Islamic flag was hoisted above the German Embassy in Khartoum, before the windows were shattered and before part of the building was eventually set aflame amidst cries of “Allahu akbar,” Rahmatallah Osman, an undersecretary in Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, was sitting together with the German ambassador at his ministry. Tea and sweets were served. “The conversation proceeded in a markedly friendly atmosphere,” the diplomat wrote to Berlin soon thereafter.
During the entire preceding week, Sudanese preachers and media sources had been fiercely attacking Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a press release from Sept. 12, Sudan’s foreign minister complained about “the recent trend” by the German government to allow people who insult the Prophet Muhammad to demonstrate outside mosques. It also accused Angela Merkel of supporting people who dragged Muslim religious values through the mud.
Sudan’s foreign minister was apparently conflating small protest marches by the regional German anti-Islam party Pro NRW with a speech that Angela Merkel delivered in Potsdam, near Berlin, in September 2010. The occasion for the speech was the awarding of the M100 Media Prize to Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonists whose Muhammad caricatures sparked global protests by Muslims in 2005 and 2006.
But in his intimate talk with the German ambassador, Osman said that he hoped Germany would not take all of this the wrong way. He argued that the statement was solely targeted at the Sudanese population. With it, he continued, the Sudanese government was only trying to quell some domestic troubles. “In my view, we should leave it at that,” the ambassador wrote to Berlin, “unless the coming days should bring any trouble.”