- Category: GENERAL
- Published on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 13:30
- Written by Ogbuefi Blogs
American Ambassador was killed last night as gunmen attack U.S. consulate in Libya and radical Islamists in Cairo tore apart Stars and Stripes flag in protests over film attacking prophet Mohammed. Just yesterday, Channel 4 was forced to cancel a
screening of the controversial documentary after the presenter was threatened with physical violence.
These developments should put Nigeria's security forces on red alert for a possible spill over. The damage of the Dannish cartoon, and previous killings in northern Nigeria because of alleged insults to Mohammed and Islam are still fresh in our minds.
The Ambassador, Christopher Stevens [pictured above] was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gaddafi. Five other US ambassadors have been killed in the line of duty, the last being Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979.
Islam: The Untold Story, a documentary previously aired on the UK Television channel by historian Tom Holland, pictured, sparked a backlash by viewers and has now been cancelled. Historian Tom Holland received online abuse after programme prompted more than 1,200 complaints.
Historian Tom Holland received abusive messages on Twitter and warnings he would come to harm because of the film, in which he suggests that Islam is a 'made-up' religion.
The programme has already been aired on Channel 4, sparking more than 1,200 complaints, but the broadcaster was planning a screening for 'opinion formers' at its London headquarters later this month.
It had hoped to organise a debate around the screening but the whole event has had to be axed because of fears it would be targeted.
Holland received abusive tweets questioning his views on the religion. Some posted physical threats to the Cambridge-educated historian via Twitter, while one called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.
Ofcom – which received 150 of the complaints regarding the programme’s inaccuracy, alleged bias and offence to Muslims – said it was considering launching an investigation.
A Channel 4 spokeswoman said: 'Having taken security advice, we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the programme Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film which is still available to view on 4oD.'
Holland's investigation into Islam's origins claimed that there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed
It was claimed that the programme 'takes the mickey out of Islam', was guilty of 'stereotypes about Asians' and was 'disrespectful to the Koran'.
One scene that particularly provoked anger was where a heavily-made up girl, Mr Khan's daughter, rushed to put on a hijab and pretended to be reading the Koran when her father entered.
The six-part series, which aired for the first time on BBC1 in August, was created by British Muslim Adil Ray, who also plays the lead role.
Meanwhile American Ambassador was killed last night as gunmen attack U.S. consulate in Libya
US ambassador and three staff 'killed in rocket attack' in Libya just hours after radical Islamists stormed embassy in protests over film attacking prophet
Christopher Stevens died of 'smoke inhalation' after being pulled from car outside consulate in Benghazi
He had been trying to evacuate staff at US compound as furious mob of extremists attacked
Destruction: A burned-out car smoulders at the scene. It is unclear if this vehicle was used by Ambassador Stevens and his team as he attempted to escape
Revolt: An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi, Libya
In flames: The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is seen on fire during a protest by an armed group protesting a film being produced in the United States
Destruction: Plumes of smoke and flames can be seen rising out of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi after the building was raided by gunmen who set it on fire
Protest: An American worker was shot to death and another was injured as the armed demonstrators swarmed the embassy in Benghazi
Obama: 'Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the US (who) selflessly served his country'
Sean Smith, a foreign service information manager, was also shot dead by armed miliants
Ambassador Stevens is first US diplomat to be killed in the line of duty since Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979
Protests in Libya and in Egypt blamed on film The Innocence of Muslims which 'insults Prophet Mohammed'
US film-maker Sam Bacile: 'Islam is a cancer, period'. He has now gone into hiding.
Killed: Christopher Stevens was a career diplomat who died as he tried to evacuate staff from the US consulate in Benghazi
The American ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed in a rocket attack after an armed mob protesting at a 'blasphemous' film about the Prophet Mohammed set fire to the consulate in Benghazi.
Christopher Stevens, 52, was at the compound evacuating staff when the building was attacked by militants who shot dead Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer.
In the subsequent chaos, the diplomat and his team made a desperate bid to flee by car to safety. But the vehicle came under heavy arms fire and was hit by a rocket, leaving it disabled and at the mercy of the mob.
Two marines attempted to aid Ambassador Stevens but were shot dead, according to CBS.
Graphic images taken at the scene show civilians making desperate attempts to pull the diplomat to safety. But their efforts were futile. Arab television station Al Jazeera today reported that Ambassador Stevens died of smoke inhalation.
President Barack Obama today condemned the attack and paid tribute to the late Ambassador Stevens as he ordered increased security at diplomatic posts around the world.
'Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States,' he said.
'Throughout the Libya revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi.
'As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya's transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.'
It is understood that two US security personnel and a fourth man, also a US citizen, died in the attack.
The deaths will put huge pressure on the Libyan administration which took over after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Despite the West taking a key role in his overthrow, the country remains unstable and Islamic militants have moved into the power vacuum.
There are also huge questions about the security surrounding both Ambassador Stevens and the US diplomatic buildings in such a volatile country.
The violence in Libya - and an earlier assault by 2,000 people on the US embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo - were sparked by a 14-minute trailer for a film called The Innocence of Muslims posted on YouTube.
In an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, Mohammed is depicted as a fraud, a womaniser and a madman, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.
"We Muslims will never condone the abuse of our noble Prophet. It is beteer for the Americans to understand Islam and what provoke muslims and try to avoid hurting the feelings of muslims" --Haruwa Gwani
"The diplomats were killed because a US filmmaker made a film criticizing Islam. The filmmaker has no connection with the diplomats. What is the crime in criticizing a religion? Another example of the bloodthirsty culture that has come to define Islam. Muslims should help themselves by condemning such barbarism without qualification." --OLUWATOYIN ADEPOJU
It was made by Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew. He said he had produced, directed and written the two-hour film which had only been shown once to a mostly empty theater in Hollywood earlier this year.
'Islam is a cancer, period,' he said in an interview yesterday, speaking after the State Department confirmed the death of an American in Benghazi.
He was apologetic about the killing but blamed lax embassy security and the perpetrators of the violence. 'I feel the security system (at the embassies) is no good,' said Bacile. 'America should do something to change it.'
Mr Bacile claimed he did not know who had dubbed the film into Arabic. He went into hiding after the full scale of the the trouble in North Africa became clear.
Yesterday, Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Christian in the U.S. known for his anti-Islam views, told The Associated Press from Washington that he was promoting the video on his website and on certain TV stations, which he did not identify.
The film has featured on Egyptian media reports for several days with ultraconservative clerics going on air to denounce it and also to attack Sadek, who they blamed for the film.
Matters came to a head yesterday when hundreds of mainly ultraconservative Islamist protesters in Egypt marched to the US Embassy in downtown Cairo, gathering outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the US.
Most of the embassy staff had left the compound earlier because of warnings of the upcoming demonstration.
The crowd chanted, 'Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.' Some shouted, 'We are all Osama,' referring to al-Qaida leader bin Laden.
Young men, some in masks, sprayed graffiti on the walls. Some grumbled that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi had not spoken out about the movie.
A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, 'Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Mohammed alone.'
Dozens of protesters then scaled the embassy walls, and several went into the courtyard and took down the American flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that tore it apart.
The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with a Muslim declaration of faith, 'There is no god but God and Mohammed is his prophet.' The flag is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region.
The Cairo embassy is in a diplomatic area in Garden City, where the British and Italian embassies are located, only a few blocks away from Tahrir Square, the center of last year's uprising that led to the ouster of Mubarak.
The U.S. Embassy is built like a fortress, with a wall several metres high. But security has been scaled back in recent months, with several roadblocks leading to the facility removed after legal court cases by residents.
Trouble quickly spread to Libya where a group identifiying itself as the 'Islamic Law Supporters' attacked the consulate on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on American in protest at a film that they deemed blasphemous to the Prophet Mohammed.
A furious mob fired gunshots and then set the building alight as they clashed with Libyans hired to guard the facility. Outnumbered by the crowd, Libyan security forces did little to stop them, al-Sharef said.
Witnesses reported militants firing rocket-propelled grenades from a nearby farmhouse.
The situation rapidly deteriorated as the army tried to cordon off the area around the building and fought running battles with the attackers. But the crowd overwhelmed the facility, looting the contents.
'I heard nearly 10 explosions and all kinds of weapons. It was a terrifying day,' said a witness who refused to give his name because he feared retribution.
The mob climbed the walls of the compound in Cairo and ripped down the U.S. flag
Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt
Egyptian riot police stand guard as protesters climb down from the wall of the embassy
Thousands of Egyptian demonstrators were angered by a film produced by expatriate members of Egypt's Christian minority resident in the United States
Egyptian protesters pray outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo
An Egyptian protester (centre) holds a placard reading in Arabic 'no to sectarian strife' during the protest
Order was eventually restored after three hours but there was very little of the consulate left. Last night, the US confirmed that a state department officer had been killed last night with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly condemning the attack.
She said she had called Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif 'to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.'
'Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,' Clinton said in a statement released by the State Department.
'The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.'
It was some hours later that it emerged Ambassador Stevens and three of his team had been killed.
The attacks were the first such assaults on US diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak, in uprisings last year.
Solemn day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama marked the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon
Tribute: The attacks on the U.S. embassies in Libya and Cairo as Americans mourn the loss of those who perished on September 11, 2001.
Islam: The Untold Story
Critics have accused Holland of distorting the history of the religion in Islam: The Untold Story.
His investigation into its origins claimed that there is little written contemporary evidence about the prophet Mohammed.
He also suggests the Koran makes little or no reference to Islam’s holy city of Mecca, and argues there is no evidence for the general assertion that Islam began 'fully formed' in the 7th century.
Instead Holland says it has developed over the centuries into the religion we know today.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy accused him of making 'baseless assumptions' and engaging in 'selective scholarship'.
Holland, the author of best-sellers Rubicon and Persian Fire, said that Islam is 'a legitimate subject of historical inquiry'.
Writing on the Channel 4 website after complaints to both the channel and watchdog Ofcom, he said: 'We were of course aware when making the programme that we were touching deeply held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilizational power of Islam was acknowledged in our film, and the perspective of Muslim faith represented, both in the persons of ordinary Bedouin in the desert, and one of the greatest modern scholars of Islam, Seyyed Hossein Nasr.'
Holland was defended by Dr Jenny Taylor who runs the charity Lapido Media, which encourages better understanding and reporting of religion in the media.
'He’s shown all of us that Islam is interesting enough to be taken seriously. He’s refused to stick his head in the sand and play blind about the problems or internal tensions that all thinking Muslims know are there,' she said.
'He’s not trammelled the sacred heart of an ancient mystery but found hints of an even greater and more awesome reality that is tantalisingly beyond our grasp at the moment, but could just be the key to a shared past and shared future.'
Last month BBC comedy series Citizen Khan, about a Muslim community leader, received 200 complaints following its first episode.
Citizen Khan, about a Muslim community leader, sparked hundreds of complaints from viewers who said it took the 'mickey out of Islam'
"The sıns of Amerıca agaınst the Muslım World ıs myrıad and has to be checked. We wıll not tolerate where the Holy Prophet of Islam ıs denıgrated by the West." -Justabu
What pristine bullshit! American Foreign policy is FREELY criticized, and the Mormons are FREELY criticized, and Sango and Ogun are freely criticized, and infidels and pagans are FREELY criticised, and the Dalai Lama is FREELY
Why then would it be taboo to criticize Islam or Prophet Mohammed? How is it that, of all the people in the world, of all the religious and non-religious hypothesis in the world, you Muslims are the ONLY ones with this one idea that can never be questioned or criticized?
Why do some of you go a murderous rampage each time something unflattering is said about your religion, or your favorite prophet? Why do you lack the confidence to take criticism in good stride, just like everybody else in the world? What is it that you are afraid of? Why are you so excitable? Why are you so quick to embrace violence?
An innocent ambassador with a wife and children has just been murdered, for absolutely no reason at all, and some of you are here offering jejune justifications for this criminality? And tomorrow, you will start complaining that the rest of the world holds you in disdain? Some of you are truly sick. - Dominic Ogbonna