A couple of days ago, I came across this tweet from @LeShaque:
And even though I’d been horrified to hear of the death of Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and felt that the murder of a dignitary definitely crossed a line in the various emotions shooting from one end of the Arab world to the other, it was this tweet that finally inspired me to search for the video that had caused such outrage against the West, and for the story behind it.
In Khartoum, Sudan, where I used to live, all the embassies are closed and the German embassy was raided. I’ve heard from friends in countries such as Jordan and Egypt that all Americans are being strongly urged not to leave their homes for fear of reprisals. But the thought of protests against Evil American Christianity uniting warring factions and stopping the violence in my beloved Syria, even for only 30 seconds… well, I thought that this video really must be something!
Here’s a link if you’re interested. There’s NO WAY I’d embed it into this blog – I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s worth the space on this blog. I share this link ONLY for your convenience.
I’ve heard lots of different things about this video, so it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Is this 14-minute video just a trailer for a longer video? Were the actors duped into participating? Does the producer even exist at all, in the first place? What are his religion and nationality, and does it matter? Is it really only just a youtube video?! I’m confused and I care insomuch as I want to find out how it sparked so much death and destruction.
So, rather than try to unpack what’s behind the video, I just want to share briefly two things the events of the past week have illustrated to me:
1- Arab Muslims feel intimidated and neglected. I think they probably feel something akin to what the school nerd feels after suffering countless days of intimidation by the school bully. The bully is Western Christians. Try to put yourself in the feet of that kid in your middle school who was always being picked on, and you have probably captured the emotions that caused such a vicious reaction against a video like this. It’s a defensive reaction. Over-reaction? No doubt about it, but over-reaction as a result of pent-up humiliation.
2- There is a lot of frustration after the Arab Spring. 18 months ago, the whole world was excited about what was happening… finally people were speaking up for what they believed and toppling dictatorships. Revolutions were toppling dictators – peacefully! This was amazing and thrilling. As we approach the 2nd anniversary of the Arab Spring, the Middle East has not magically become utopia. Us outsiders watching can’t help but be disappointed that the Middle East hasn’t yet become what we’ve always known it could be. But I think my Egyptian, Tunisian, and Syrian friends are much more frustrated – they got a taste that things were going to get better, and hoped they would get MUCH better. Maybe for some people, they are a little bit better, but it must be so so so frustrating to want so much yet achieve so little.
In other words, it’s been a very, very, VERY frustrating year.