qxntpqbbbqxl: "There are fifty men in that swimming pool and no women. I do find the implications of that scary."
Egyptian here. Freedom of speech is not a concept average joes understand here. The majority being muslims or christians, heresy is not well tolerated by either side. Each side does its best to make sure they lose nobody to the other religion or atheism.
Egyptians have been under military/authoritarian rule for 60 years (July 1952 - July 2012). Those regimes had ministries of 'information' and censorship committees to ban any publication/film/music deemed 'inappropriate.' Poor people (who are more emotional when it comes to religion/honor/face issues) believe that the US government can ban the film. I know it sounds funny but they think the ambassador would call Obama saying 'Egyptians are upset', so Obama calls his minister of information saying 'stop the screenings.' It's hard to talk logic into people who live on less than $2 a day, when they have not been exposed to it in their lives (not even at school, work, or courtrooms).
This was about the guys who were really there defending their religion. Also in the mix, there are:
adrenaline junkies, who grew addicted to fighting police and any authority during the year and a half under the military junta;
people who see the police as extreme evil e.g. street sellers, as they have been evicted by police in the last two weeks, as they were occupying every single inch of downtown illegally;
people who have no job, no money and want to feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, a sense of purpose;
people who believe the US is the HQ of evil, the enemy of Islam and Arab nationalism, and the large imperialist power that wants to subdue Arabs.
Parasite Unseen: "American bombs that have fallen not merely in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Libya, Pakistan and Yemen."
Flood: "But the general attitude of most people posting here is to deny any problems in Middle Eastern culture."
Right, these things are undoubtedly serious issues and shouldn't be ignored when discussing the problems in Middle Eastern nations. And no one here is really ignoring them, we're just not talking about them because they have less immediate bearing on political protests and actions that get lumped under "Muslim rage," and media portrayal of Muslims. The ostensible trigger for the latest round of protests is that terrible Islamophobic movie, but that's not really entirely why people are protesting, and it's not why militants took violent action, it's just a trigger and an excuse. Again, the point is that more complex reasons should be acknowledged for these kind of actions, rather than conveniently reducing them to "Muslim rage."
The systemic problems you mention, conveniently the ones most related to Islam (and that's not a comment on you picking those out, it's a comment on the media frequently picking those out), are the ones the media loves to talk about, to the exclusion of more complex analyses of social and political realities in Middle Eastern nations. Honor killings, women denied the choice to veil or not veil, executions of gay people...these all happen, these are all tragedies and injustices that should be justly addressed by Middle Eastern nations, but media coverage of them is disproportionate to the more nuanced, even-handed media coverage that's the opposite of "MUSLIM RAGE!!!" type stories.
So you can stand back and respect the autonomy of other cultures and say, "Honor killings? That's just how they roll!", or you can try to get involved to stop it.
1. adrenaline junkies, who grew addicted to fighting police and any authority during the year and a half under the military junta;
2. people who see the police as extreme evil e.g. street sellers, as they have been evicted by police in the last two weeks, as they were occupying every single inch of downtown illegally;
3. people who have no job, no money and want to feel they are part of something bigger than themselves, a sense of purpose;
4. people who believe the US is the HQ of evil, ...
For Muslims, the caricature of the prophet is unacceptable and offensive. We understand that this view is not universal, however.
We believe that freedom of expression applies to artists, but also to those who disagree with the art, as long as the disagreement is expressed in accordance with the laws and the integrity of people and property. There is no reason to act outside the law.
That said, we will continue to denounce drawings of the prophet, because they are not acceptable to Muslims. But at the same time Muslims must acknowledge that in our society the sacred is not the same for everyone.
One curious thing is that there are, as a matter of statistical near-inevitability, Muslims on MetaFilter, and probably still reading this thread, although at this point possibly from the same car-crash eyeball-glue as I am feeling, and yet they are not contributing. Or, if they are contributing, they are not identifying as Muslim.
I think that's a shame, but I can't see it as hugely surprising.
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