After it became known to a wider audience less than two weeks ago, the trailer for the movie sparked violent protests all over the Muslim world that have killed almost 20 people. With no exception, everybody who has seen the short movie has criticized it as an amateurish attempt to insult Muslims, made with the sole purpose of provoking as many believers as possible.
The scenes of fanatic Muslims marching and shouting anti-Western slogans, innocent people with no connection to the movie being killed and properties being burned reminds many of previous expressions of Muslim rage against Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" and the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Although the numbers cannot be compared -- this time around only a handful of protesters have taken to the streets -- and many Muslim leaders have condemned the violence, the perception of many in Europe and the US is exactly the same as before: Muslims are bloodthirsty and intolerant creatures.
After an initial lack of clarity about the producers and makers of the movie, more details have come out which show that strengthening these prefabricated clichés is the only reason why it was made in the first place and why it was distributed at this moment in time. The film was produced under a false pretext and was later manipulated and dubbed into a vitriolic anti-Islam manifesto by an American director of B-movies under the guidance of Naboula Basseley Naboula, a Coptic Christian with a criminal record living in California. The clip was posted on YouTube some months ago but did not get the attention that the sick minds behind it were hoping for. That changed after another Coptic Christian and notorious anti-Islam activist living in the US, Morris Sadek, who earlier this year lost his Egyptian citizenship as a result of his provocative activities, called an Egyptian journalist on Sept. 4 to inform him about the existence of the infamous clip. On the McClatchy news website one can read what happened next. The journalist wrote a short article warning that the short movie could fuel tension between Egyptian Muslims and Christians. Three days later the clip was shown by a popular Salafist TV station, and soon after ultraorthodox Salafist leaders started to call for protests on Sept. 11. The US Embassy soon realized the potential danger and called on the Salafists to apologize for the movie although they stressed that there was no involvement from the US authorities at all. It did not help and on Sept. 11, a day full of symbolism, demonstrators set upon the US Embassy.
The whole thing might have remained a local row had not hours later the US Consulate in Benghazi been attacked and Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed. It became clear soon that the murderers were not demonstrators and that the professionally planned raid was carried out by terrorists who had used the protests as a cover. Since then we have learned that one day before, on Sept. 10, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian successor to Osama bin-laden as leader of al-Qaeda, sent out a video calling upon the Libyan and Egyptian population to fight for the release of Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind sheikh who is in prison in the US because of his links with the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. In the same video Zawahiri also admitted that Abu Yahya al-Libi, the al-Qaeda ideologue, had been killed by a US drone in June and that his death called for revenge. It should come as no surprise that a leading role during the Cairo demonstrations was played by Mohammed al-Zawahiri, the brother of the al-Qaeda leader, and that in the meantime the killing of the Americans in Benghazi has been claimed by an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda.
All these connections show that the anti-American protests in the Muslim world are not a spontaneous reaction to another accidental anti-Islamic provocation. What we are witnessing today is the result of a poisonous mix of Islamophobic propaganda to trigger a new round of self-defeating Muslim anger, well planned terrorist attacks on American targets in a pre-election period and efforts by radical Islamists to destabilize and discredit moderate governments in Egypt and Libya.
It is encouraging to see that a growing number of Muslims worldwide seem no longer willing to fall into these traps set by extremists whose only goal is to widen the gap between Muslims and the rest of the world.