Rioting because of a Movie or How the Wider Sense is Deliberately Lost

The headlines are  probably intentionally misleading. “Muslims riot because of movie”

No, they do not riot because of a movie, but because it is, once again, a final straw that broke all those collective backs. Admittedly, tempers in the Middle East flare a little more easily than their European counterparts, but one bad movie alone is certainly not enough to make a whole nation go bonkers. The riots have other reasons: gross political mismanagement, refusal from the European and American side to help create a strong Muslim government, poverty, the perceived arrogance of the West…

Which leads me to “The Innocence of Muslims” – it is a dreadful parody, lacking wit and substance and a message. The debate should not be about whether there is freedom of speech but about the lack of intelligence within that particular speech. Parody is meant to be sharp and witty, to cut and sting without gross insult. It should make people think about the subject matter or see it, for a moment, loosened from its normal place, made ridiculous in the wider sense of things or even within its very particular universe.

The media reports about the riots and the way they are presented (no background, Muslims are crude and barbarous and so on…) just further serve to cement a ridiculously prejudiced image of the Muslim world. Parody is allowed and is even necessary, but it has to have substance. Muslim verse, Sufi verse for example, is full of a very delicate parody of mankind itself. The man who is tied by chains feels them grow lighter for a moment, but he knows why he is chained and who chained him. He understands the motives of his tormentors and can make fun of them, in his own moment of power. The parody we’re seeing here has no understanding, no sense of fun and no sense of life, either. That something senseless and dumb can have that kind of traction…that is very sad and frightening.

This morning I read a heartfelt plea from a scared young actress who happened to be acting in that movie on Neil Gaiman’s blog – read it…the actors were made to believe they were acting in some kind of fantasy adventure film, which was later overdubbed to become “The Innocence of Muslims”. You can imagine how that young woman feels, I think…




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