It's hard not to look at a news source and not notice the extreme outrage felt by some in the Middle East over the controversial anti-Islamic film, Innocence of Muslims. But aggression towards the film has risen to a whole new level. Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour released a comment saying that he would pay 100,000 dollars for the death of the maker of the anti-Islamic film, according to a BBC news article. The article then explains that the Minister asked for the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help him find and kill the film maker. The Pakistani government condemned the Minister's statement by saying that it was a personal comment and would not be taken into action. The Minister is part of the Awami National Party (ANP) not the ruling Pakistan's People Party (PPP).
The controversial comment:
"I will pay whoever kills the makers of this video $100,000. If someone else makes other similar blasphemous material in the future, I will also pay his killers $100,000" said the Minister according to BBC news.
There is something to be said about the power of a direct quote. I think reading the Minister's exact words makes them jump off the page. The reader begins to think, wow, did he really just say that? I find it interesting to discuss this topic on an online blog since blogs are a media outlet that encourage discussion and freedom of speech. One part of this controversy is the tug-of-war between freedom of speech and that fine line of going to far when expressing an opinion, especially one that could spark hate or offense towards a culture or religion. Which is why I find the following quote from the Minister according to BBC news very interesting,
"I call upon these countries and say: Yes, freedom of expression is there, but you should make laws regarding people insulting our Prophet. And if you don't, then the future will be extremely dangerous."
I see a lot of extremes in these expressions. The film itself was extremely anti-islamic and the response from those in the Middle East was extreme outrage towards the west. The last part of his comment leaves me wondering what will happen between the West and the Middle East. If the West continues to express their freedom of speech towards religions, such as Islam, will there be more violence to pay for these extreme expressions? The outrage against the West has already resulted in violence with the storming of embassies and the shooting of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
The top of the BBC news article includes a powerful picture (shown above) of a man dressed in all black with his face covered and his arms raised with a stick in hand. The photograph of this man captures his anger and outrage even though you cannot see his face. Behind him are a sea of flames that have engulfed two cars. I think this picture adds to the article because it brings to life the emotional aspect of what those offended by the anti-Islamic film are feeling, extreme anger, and conveys how these emotions are being expressed through violence.
Your two cents...
The main question I am wondering after reading this article is, when it comes to the global community, how do we balance and respect conflicting rights between countries? What could the U.S. do to help stop the violence and hate towards the West? Or should Pakistan, and other countries in the Middle East, take a more peaceful approach to voicing their outrage?
Watch here for a BBC video of the Minister clearly asking al-Qaeda and the Taliban to help him kill the film maker and join this "noble cause."