By: Laurean Love
Students of many religions, classifications and races joined together Thursday night at Brooks Flats Residence Hall to discuss the recent protests in the Islamic community.
The protests were ignited in the Middle East when an anti-Islamic film, “Innocence of Muslims”, was released in the U.S. Many in the Muslim world believe the video degrades the Prophet Mohammad. Muslims were even more outraged when they found that in the U.S, the video was protected by the First Amendment, because in his home country of Egypt, filmmaker Nakoula Bassely Nakoula would have faced swift punishment.
However, Al-Siddiq, President of the Islamic Center of Waco, feels the movie was not the only problem. Siddiq believes that it is years of built up hatred from America’s attacks on Iraq and the Muslim country.
“It’s very important in more educated lands, such as the United States, to recognize that, of the 6 billion people in the world, 1.2 billion are followers of Islam,” said Siddiq in an article he wrote for the Waco Tribune-Herald. “The barbaric and disgusting violence we see on TV and read about in the newspaper is hardly a fair representation of how most Muslims are reacting to this trumped-up documentary made in America.”
Siddiq was born and raised in Karachi and has lived in America since 1987. Along with being president of the Islamic Center of Waco, Siddiq has also served in the U.S. Army.
“The bottom line is the economy, because all of the protests are happening in poor countries because the dictator has suppressed those people,” Siddiq said.
International security analyst, David S. Oualaalou, explains that Yamin is one of the poorest countries in the outer world; just the basic infrastructure is not even there. Half of the population and country is in or near poverty.
“They do not have a place where words can be expressed, so what are they left with?” Oualaalou asked. “They are left with violence. Violence is a way of expressing that anger. The difference is, where do you draw the line?”
Many people agreed during the Q & A panel, hat the film was just the tip of the iceberg that started the protests and that Americans should be educated on all of the issues that the Islam culture faces.
“We have fault and cannot blame their violence and behavior because they are uneducated or illiterate,” Siddiq said. “We have to look at ourselves and what we do to provoke those kind of incidents.”
Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, also known as Sam Bacile, the creator of the anti-Islam film, was arrested on Thursday in California for violating the terms of his probation of bank fraud in 2010.
“We are trying to figure out as a country, how to respond to violence and threats of violence,” said Baylor World Religions Professor, Dr. Chris van Gorder. “We have the Patriot Act, which is an unbelievable violation of the constitution, but people put up with it because they are willing to give up free speech for security.”