Another US embassy has been attacked – this time in Yemen. Hundreds of demonstrators smashed the windows of security offices outside the embassy on Thursday before breaking through the main gate of the heavily-fortified compound.
This follows Tuesday’s angry protest at the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in which the US ambassador and three other members of staff were killed when a mob set fire to the compound.
“No matter how much you dislike an idea, one of the beliefs we have here in the United States is that you have to let all ideas flow freely …. In America, every single religion is ridiculed …. There simply is, as much as you find that offensive, a fundamental difference between putting out an offensive idea and killing people.“
– T.J. Walker, a political and social commentator
Clashes also erupted on Tuesday at the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Protesters were still out on the streets there on Thursday with crowds moving into the now iconic Tahrir Square.
The anger has been sparked by a 14 minute trailer for what is supposed to be a two-hour low-budget film that was first posted online in early July.
The film, called Innocence of Muslims, allegedly cost $5m to make and insults the Prophet Mohammad, depicting him as a fraud, a womaniser and a paedophile.
The writer and director of the film is said to be a man who calls himself Sam Bacile from California. But there is growing suspicion that that name may be a cover for a group of right-wing Christians.
A Coptic Christian in California has admitted that he managed the film’s production company.
The trailer first started generating attention when it was dubbed in Arabic. Youtube has now blocked the video clip from being seen in Libya and Egypt.
As the anger grows, we ask why such an obscure production should provoke such a strong reaction and whether such films should be allowed under the rules of free speech.
Joining Inside Story, with presenter Laura Kyle to discuss this are guests: Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian political analyst and publisher; Danny Schechter, an independent documentary and filmmaker; and T.J. Walker, a political and social commentator.
|“As a filmmaker the film is offensive because it’s so poorly made …. This is a trailer that is a provocation …. It is very political from beginning to end. It’s not about free expression; it’s about propaganda. And the United States is not in a position to criticise the propaganda of others when we have so much propaganda posing as news on our own airwaves …. [The film] is incitement – it’s not information, it’s not filmmaking and it’s really intended as a technique of war-making, not a technique of information-sharing.”
Danny Schechter, an independent documentary and filmmaker