Daniel Pipes: Anti-Muslim Film Did Provoke Real Outrage
by Henry J. Reske and John Bachman and Daniel Pipes
Even though the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Libya is now being attributed to terrorism it is a mistake to overlook the rage that the YouTube video mocking Mohammed sparked, Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, tells Newsmax TV.
Pipes, who is also a Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University and author of a column that appears in the Jerusalem Post, said that while the video didn't have much importance in either Libya or Egypt, "the perception worldwide by Muslims that their prophet Mohammed is being attacked, mocked is something that stirs emotions powerfully and has nothing to do with the United States."
Pipes said that since Ayatollah Khomeini, in 1989, issued a death sentence on Salman Rushdie for his novel Satanic Verses the West has responded with satirical depictions of Mohammed, which provoke Muslims.
"What's behind this, ultimately, is two very different understandings of freedom of speech," he said, "namely we say, 'Blasphemy is okay. We do it all of the time. In fact, we even have government support for it, such as the notorious 'Piss Christ' piece of so-called art some years ago funded in part by the tax payer.'
"Yeah, this is routine for us and the Muslims are saying, 'Hey, no. It might be routine for you but we don't accept that.' And beyond that is an even deeper difference where the Muslims are saying, 'You know, we have a set of laws. Among them, you don't make fun of Mohammed or in any way defame Mohammed and you must follow these laws.' And we're saying, 'No, we have a set of laws and you must follow ours.' So it's a big clash over a rather small thing."
Pipes said that over time and being "exposed to our way, which is freedom to blasphemy and to mock" Muslims will get used to it.
"The alternative is that we get used to them telling us, 'No, you can't talk about that.' The typical statement by a Muslim leader is, 'I believe in freedom of speech but this is not freedom of speech. You're not allowed to mock religion or Mohammed or anything like that.'
"To which I say, 'Well, wait a minute. That's not freedom of speech.' Freedom of speech is in particular about being obnoxious and being blasphemous and so forth. Freedom of speech is not about nursery rhymes, not about sweet things. It's about nasty things and that's what our Constitution allows us and beyond our Constitution is an important, fundamental of our political order."
However, Pipes notes that al-Qaida, despite attracting some sympathy in the Mideast, is not popular.
"Al-Qaida can tap a certain sympathy but a not a very deep one, a very wide one," he said. "Al-Qaida's not particularly popular. Al-Qaida is murderous. Al-Qaida kills Muslims too. Al-Qaida has an extreme quality that doesn't get it very far. A tactically less aggressive, less extreme form of Islamism finds quite a lot of support. So I don't think al-Qaida has a real future.
"The real future, the real Islamist future lies, for example, in the Turkish government, which was elected popularly, was not engaged in terrorism, was transforming Turkish life step by step, day by day to make it Islamist. That has a much more robust future than terrorism, which really is not a successful tactic."
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