Is the Islamopocalypse really upon us?
No. Turn off the television news (or put down your copy of Newsweek) if you think otherwise.
(Page 2 of 2)
This doesn't mean that there's no story here or events aren't worth paying attention to. It's just that there's nothing new to learn about the "Muslim world" in all this. Yes, it's true that many Muslims are intolerant of perceived insults against their religion. Yes, a lot of Muslims don't much like the US. If you think that's news, try getting out more.Skip to next paragraph
Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.
In Pictures Anger across the Muslim world
The recidivism rate of former Guantánamo prisoners is really low – and falling (+video)
Liz Wahl: Russia Today anchor quits on air as cold war rhetoric heats up (+video)
A look at Ukraine's economic hole
'Ukraine is game to you?' It shouldn't be.
A piece of news that should have Vladimir Putin grinning
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
What we can learn is about the specifics of each country, from both how events unfolded and how government's responded. Consider Libya, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his colleagues were murdered in the second-largest city, Benghazi. It was a terrible tragedy that says something about post-Qaddafi Libya, but little about anywhere else. The Americans were killed by one of the dozens of militias that continue to roam the country, particularly in Benghazi. The particular militia is almost certainly one of the anti-American jihadi outfits operating there.
In Egypt, we learned something about new President Mohamed Morsi, who was propelled to the presidency earlier this year by the Muslim Brotherhood. Security was nonexistent when a crowd of maybe 2,000 protesters descended on the US embassy and managed to scale the wall and destroy the US flag flying there. Most of the protesters breaching the embassy walls, and the violent group at Friday's protest, were football hooligans, mostly out for a fight with the cops, not Islamist ideologues.
Still, in the first day after that incident, Mr. Morsi was largely silent on the embassy breach, and far more interested in complaining about the insult to Islam. But he changed his tune after furious private complaints from the US and a pointed comment made by President Obama that Egypt is not a US "ally." Is the fact that the democratically elected president of Egypt isn't a particular fan of free speech or of the US positive? Of course not. But does the fact that he changed his tune and eventually did the right thing (security was much better for Friday's protest) tell us that a way to work with the new Egyptian government can still be found? Of course.
Then there's Lebanon, where Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah emerged to join some of the most raucous anti-American protests in the world. Though Mr. Nasrallah's America-hating credentials hardly need any burnishing, his regional popularity has been on the wane, since he's seen as a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria, where the civil war has claimed at least 30,000 lives so far. The hypocrisy of protesting a 14-minute YouTube clip while staying silent about a Syrian leader who's had thousands killed was noted by many.