Italian Reactions to Muhammad Film Protests
by Enza Ferreri
The violent attacks on people and symbols representing the USA and the West in the Islamic world are one of those situations in which it becomes clear where people stand.
People are forced to make a choice here: they either point the finger at those whom they consider responsible for having provoked Muslim outrage, in other words guilty of exercising freedom of expression, or recognize that peaceful coexistence cannot be achieved by sacrificing the basic principles of our civilization, and that appeasement only leads to more and more aggressive demands.
It's similar to kidnapping and making ransom demands: governments are reluctant to give in to those requests, because they know that capitulation would encourage further kidnappings. But in dealing with the Muslim world, this logic - in fact any logic - is hardly ever applied.
Appeasement cannot work for the following reasons. Islam and European civilization are incompatible, not just because Islam is bent on destroying anything which is not Islam - what you may call the "supremacist reason" - but also because our fundamental principles and Islam's are in direct, logical contradiction, and trying to reconcile them is like squaring a circle. A conflict of interests can be solved with negotiations and compromises, but a logical contradiction, like that between a square and a circle, cannot be solved at all. We may call this the "cardinal reason".
It's interesting to note that Western authorities recognize the link between the religion of peace, specifically Friday prayers, and violence:
Meanwhile, police said that German embassies and consulates in Arabic countries would be on high alert after Friday, a religious holiday, as some experts fear that violence could again escalate. (Islam versus Europe)
France confirmed on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Mohammad that were published by a French magazine this week. (Jihad Watch)
Why is it that when Muslims are closest to their religion, through mosques, Friday prayers, Ramadan, they get more enraged and aggressive?
Another criterion to separate people's positions is by looking at what they think of the "Arab Spring".
The Italian missionary-blogger-journalist Piero Gheddo in an article called "Where has the Arab Spring Gone?", after having praised both the revolts that brought democratically-elected governments in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia ("We cannot think that democracy, freedom of press and speech are positive only for us Christians") and Islam's glorious history ("Muhammad's religion spread by the sword but also gave rise to a civilization of great splendour, admired even by Christian sages and travellers"), writes:
We live in 2000 AD, Islam still lives, as a culture, religion and worship of its past, in 1400 after Muhammad. It has not yet adapted to modernity. Muslim peoples are attracted to it, while the political and religious authorities try in every way to exploit Islam to save their power.
Not only that, but there are objective difficulties in saving in the modern world the many good things that exist in Islam: the historical-critical reading of the Quran that would make it contemporary is not allowed because it is the word of God in the literal sense; in Islam there is no comparable authority to the Pope and the Bishops, every mosque or madrassa follows its own way; in Islamic law there is no notion of absolute dignity of every man and woman, which makes all creatures equal in their rights; and finally there is no distinction between religion and politics.
I said that people are forced to make a choice, but it seems that some, like Father Gheddo, are very skilled at avoiding it.
An on-the-fence position has been that of Pope Benedict XVI who, in his trip to Lebanon, invited to peace and dialogue among followers of the various religions. His situation is obviously complicated by his role of head of state and the fear that his words might be the trigger for new attacks on the Christian minorities who are like hostages in Muslim-majority countries.
A more robust answer came from a 2-day international conference on 15-16 September in Florence, organized by the association Una via per Oriana Fallaci on the problem and dangers of Islam, which was also a commemoration of the late Florentine journalist and thinker.
The focus of the conference was on the persecution of Christians inside and outside the Islamic world, Europe's progressive repudiation of its classical liberal values, and the sources of what the participants called "Christianophobia".
Christianophobia derives, according to expert on geopolitics Alexandre del Valle, from four myths, one of which is
The myth that Islam is compatible with freedom and that Islamic violence against Christians is only a reaction to wicked behaviours on the part of Christians in the past as well as today. The current violence is excused as indignation provoked by the film The Innocence of Muslims, considered blasphemous by many Muslims, even if its contents have the sacred texts of Islam as their sources.
I must admit that I don't particularly like the neologism "Christianophobia", simply because unintentionally it seems to legitimize its counterpart "Islamophobia" from which it is probably derived, and in so doing it establishes a prima facie, superficial equivalence between the two religions.
Nevertheless, it seems to be in fashion in the current Italian debate, partly because of the recent Venice Film Festival's screening of Paradise: Faith by Ulrich Seidl, a movie that has as its highest point a sequence in which the protagonist, actress Maria Hoffstatter, engages in autoeroticism using a crucifix.
The double standards between the treatment of Muslim and Christian sensitivities, in this case as in that of the "Piss Christ" "artwork", are so blatant to provoke nausea.
"Violence explodes in the Muslim world. Western politicians compete in apologizing for the blasphemous Islam film. Do we need to burn down embassies and kill for someone to apologize for the blasphemous movie about Christianity which received the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival?" asks the blog Basta Bugie (Enough of Lies).
The question of free speech and where, if anywhere, the line should be drawn is worth exploring, maybe in another article. But that double standards should not be tolerated is so simple that does not require further analysis.
One of Italy's main daily newspapers, Il Giornale, had an article by the Egyptian-born Muslim convert to Christianity and counterjihadist politician Magdi Cristiano Allam:
Behind the terrorist attacks on the U.S. embassies in Benghazi and Cairo there is not a loose cannon, even enemy of 'true Islam', as our own relativists are preaching, from Obama who fell in love with the Quran and defends Muhammad to [Italian Prime Minister] Monti who has a wallet in place of a heart, from this European Union that generously and insanely funds our executioners from Morocco to Syria to that part of the Church which has become fascinated with dialogue for its own sake, culminating in the legitimacy of Islam which is the negation of Christianity.
This is not the truth! Open your eyes, look who crowded in front of the two embassies and watched the backs of the terrorists who made their way with bombs and rockets. They were men and women, young, adults and elderly, apparently people like all the others. Read what was written on the signs and open Qurans held high up, our condemnation to death for daring insult their prophet. Listen carefully to the incitement against the West uttered aloud by the instigators of hatred mingled happily in the crowd. No! It is not a loose cannon! The truth in front of our eyes, that we can hear with our ears, is that this Islamic terrorism is the tip of the iceberg of a widespread and deep-rooted popular reality which legitimizes, supports and finances it. And today, thanks to the success of the so-called 'Arab Spring', it gets full encouragement from ruling Islamic regimes which have not lifted a finger to prevent the attacks. The two embassies are located in very central areas, always under the strict control of the security authorities who, somehow, in this circumstance did not intervene. The terrorists have acted undisturbed both during the attack and looting of embassies and when they burned the American flag and replaced it with the black flag of al-Qaida, and finally when they executed the Ambassador Chris Stevens, a diplomat and two marines.
The truth is that the 'true Islam' by which Muslims are possessed is an ideology that promotes hatred, violence and death of non-Muslims. The truth is that, however, we cannot say that because this vile, ignorant, fearful, corrupt, suicidal West prefers to deny the truth and give up freedom in order not to offend the susceptibilities of the Muslims, not to acknowledge that the root of evil was not Bin Laden but the Quran and Muhammad that he blindly obeyed. Obama, in a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, had even apologized for spreading the video The Innocence of Muslims, produced in the United States, in which Muhammad is portrayed as a paedophile. Why on earth can't we say that if Muhammad, as attested by his official biography, married Aisha when she was 6 years old and had intercourse with her when she was 9, he was a paedophile? It 'an objective fact! Why on earth can't we say that Muhammad, still according to his official biography, was a criminal for having been involved in 627 at the gates of Medina in cutting the throats of and beheading 800 Jews from the tribe of Banu Qurayza? It 'an objective fact!
Wake up! Redeem the right and the duty to use reason, to be fully ourselves, at least here in our home! We got it all wrong with Muslims. Just on the eleventh anniversary of September 11th, the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo bring home one elementary truth: with all those who have as their only ideological references the Quran and Muhammad it is not possible in any way to achieve peace, at most an armed truce like that of Hudaibiya stipulated in 628 by Muhammad with his Mecca's enemies and violated right after the balance of power was reversed. It was a huge blunder of Bush and Blair to imagine that by allying themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood they would split the radical Islamic camp and defeat al-Qaeda. Today the Muslim Brotherhood is in power on the southern shores of the Mediterranean and is spreading to the eastern shores, while Al Qaeda controls state-like territories in Mali, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. For this we should thank Obama and the Europeans who are enamored of the so-called 'Arab Spring' and who continue to support the ferocious enemies of Jews, Christians, Israel and women. Because the truth is that Islam is incompatible with democracy!
Libya should have been totally grateful to the United States that has taken on itself the greatest burden of the war of 'liberation' from Gaddafi's odious dictatorial regime. Just on the same day when, commemorating September 11th, Obama claimed that the United States is at war only against Al Qaeda and not against Islam, the answer was the murder of Americans. Probably the 'blasphemous' film or the confirmation of the killing of Al-Qaeda's number two, Anas al-Libi, are just pretexts. They would have done it anyway because it's only in this way that Islam will triumph! Wake up West! Enough of relativism! Enough of Islamically correct! Enough of dialogue for its own sake! Let's stop the Islamic invasion before it's too late!
I don't share Ayaan Hirsi Ali's optimism that people in Muslim countries will eventually, in a few decades maybe, get rid of their Islamic leaders.
What instead gives me a feeling of hope is the reaction in the West, and for once in Europe, where there are maybe for the first time signs, albeit few, of a resistance. Not only the French magazine Charlie Hebdo published Muhammad cartoons, defying the dhimmitude du jour, but also France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault defended Charlie Hebdo's right to publish them. And the German satirical magazine Titanic has done something similar, taking a stand in the row over the Muhammad video, by printing a picture of the former German first lady in the arms of a turban-clad man with a dagger.
Maybe, gradually, people in the West will come to see, even through the rampages currently going on, Islam for what it is.
Enza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based author and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L'Espresso, La Repubblica.