29 March 2008

The Movie, The Media, And The Religion Of Peace

By now you may have heard about the Muslim protests surrounding the Dutch Film, Fitna. The short film takes a hard look at Islamic extremism and has received a predictable reaction from the religion's radical fundamentalists. According to reports, the Internet movie has been pulled from it's primary home after threats were made against the site's staff. Shocked? Probably not since this follows on the heels of a recent report that even the Pope had to be careful in keeping his rather tall and pointy lid on the Easter baptism of a prominent Muslim who converted to Catholicism. The Vatican was concerned about an attack. While every religion and organisation protests slights against its doctrine and traditions, there is no other religion that employs this level of worldwide intimidation to enact its will. Imagine if others did.

What I find most amazing is how the media reacts to this intimidation. They often twist and bend to cover stories surrounding Islamic extremism in a serpentine effort not to offend the extremists. Here's the latest example from AP writer Toby Sterling (emphasis added):

Hundreds of angry Muslims marched Friday in Pakistan and denounced a Dutch
legislator's film that portrays Islam as a ticking time bomb aimed at the West. Dutch Muslims were more restrained, saying they had expected worse.

The 15-minute film -- titled "Fitna," or "Strife" in Arabic -- was made by anti-immigrant lawmaker Geert Wilders and was posted on a Web site Thursday. Employing elements and symbols calculated to offend Muslims, it draws on recycled footage of terrorist attacks and anti-Western, anti-Jewish rhetoric meant to alarm the native Dutch.

Rather than focus of the threats of violence against the film's distributors, Sterling elects to provide excuses as to why that violence should be expected. After all, this anti-immigrant film maker used footage that people have already seen to prove his point. And on top of that, his film was calculated to offend Muslims. Given that, what else should we expect?

It's an odd angle for a journalist given the circumstances.

Meanwhile, American Imams continue to profess that Islam is the religion of peace. If that is the case, then they are the ones who need to step up and confront the constant threats to anyone who might give offense. Most of the world's governments won't do it for them. The media won't do it for them. It is up to them.