Profane film unveils US double standards

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Yemen’s parliament has called for the expulsion of US Marines deployed to the country. The Marines were dispatched to Sana’a to provide security for American diplomats based in the Yemeni capital where people, furious over a US-made anti-Islam movie, stormed the US Embassy. In the meantime, Sudan has dismissed Washington’s request for the deployment of US Marines to secure its embassy in Khartoum, saying it would guarantee the security of foreign embassies by itself.

The US request came after people in Muslim states embarked on a spiraling wave of protests to condemn the production of a film that desecrates their prophet. Throughout these protests, sometimes turning violent, at least 15 people – including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans whom Washington has identified as diplomats – were killed.

The deployment of US Marines to Yemen and Sudan has coincided with the departure of two US Navy destroyers to the Libyan costs and the flight of US drones above this North African state. Is US willing to turn Libya into another Yemen or Pakistan? The US unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), conducting more operations under the presidency of Barack Obama, have hitherto claimed tens of lives in those countries, some of whom might be al-Qaeda operatives. But the main victims [of these sorties] are civilians, just similar to the case of eight Afghan women whom US Air Force killed in a precise operation and based on its own intelligence services report, and in the end, it contented itself with a simple apology. Won’t the survivors of these eight innocent women heap praise on Taliban and al-Qaeda?

Turning Libya into another Yemen or Pakistan would doubtlessly mean the US failure in a country where it contributed to the overthrow of its dictator. Victory over [slain Libyan dictator Muammar] Gaddafi and stopping his Army’s possible assault on the city of Benghazi – the hotbed of uprising in Libya – was so honorable for the US president that he told one of his annual addresses: “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte [North Carolina] – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

The US ambassador was killed in the same city.

Although al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia in Libya has rejected any involvement in this incident, the United States cannot envisage any other enemy than al-Qaeda for itself and it repeatedly says this organization is responsible for arson at the US Consulate in Benghazi. It might be to some extent true since another statement from al-Qaeda says the assassination of the US ambassador was in revenge for the killing of its number two, Abu Yahya al-Libi. Several days before, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri had agreed that Abu Yahya had been killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan in June. However, there is no evidence of authenticity of this statement.

The dispatch of US Marines and Navy warships to Yemen, Sudan and Libya indicates that US envisages nothing but security reaction. In other words, Washington views the widespread protests against the profane film from a security standpoint. How far is this standpoint from what the former US secretary of defense sketched out in drawing up the new US military and political doctrine of “win hearts and minds”?

Any US action in Muslim states has been linked to its security and national interests. Hasn’t US National Intelligence Agency been aware of the production of this film? Sure it has been! So why didn’t ban its distribution? The customary response is that Western democracies could never ban freedom of expression and belief. The same response was given to the Dutch film “Fitna,” the cartoons against the messenger of Islam and the burning of the Holy Qur’an by a US pastor. The question is if the US and some Western governments have not tapped their people on the phone, not kept a round-the-clock tab on them and not thrown some people behind bars in Guantanamo without trial, just for their own national security and within the framework of their so-called “Global War on Terror.” They were mindful that the film would trigger a wave of protests and endanger US national interests. So why did they do nothing to protect these interests?

After the installation of al-Qaeda flag over the US embassy in Cairo and armed assault on the US consulate in Benghazi, YouTube administrators blocked access to this website for some Muslim states in order not to provoke people. Couldn’t they do so in the very beginning by preventing the production and distribution of the film?

In no Islamic state, a film is produced and screened to insult other divine religions. Nor could a cartoonist be found to have ever sketched a profane image of Moses or Jesus. It might be said that Islam sanctifies these two prophets and that is why they are not insulted by Muslims. But has any film been produced about Buddha or Hindus or has any profane image ever been drawn in Muslim states? If the Taliban exploded the Buddha statues in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan, their like-minded individuals also destroyed the tombs of the guardians of Muslims in Egypt, Mali and Saudi Arabia. These cases are exceptional and have nothing to do with Islam.

Mohyeddin Sajedi writes extensively on the Middle East issues. He also serves as a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran.

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