The attacks against the U.S. consulate in Libya must be seen in their specific context in order to avoid making hasty conclusions about so-called anti-American activism.
Since President Barack Obama’s speech of reconciliation with the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, in which he clearly stated that the U.S. “is not, and will never be, at war with Islam”, the United States has been constantly sending positive signals to the Arab and Muslim world in an attempt to engage with it, and has repeatedly extended its hand to Iran.
Be it just for its good intentions, the United States deserves the benefit of the doubt. Immediately after the reactions of the Arab and Muslim populations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. government "had absolutely nothing to do” with the movie, that it rejects “its content and message”, and that this movie “appears to have a deeply cynical purpose to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage”.
But it remains clear that activism among the Muslim world is ten times greater for anti-Islamic acts than it is for agitation against foreign powers. Events such as the blasphemous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and prayers be upon him) or today’s anti-Islam film continue to draw more ire from Arab and Muslim peoples.
In Mauritania, and everywhere else, the Muslim community manifested its exasperation, either in a violent way (like in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan), or in a more or less peaceful way (Nouakchott and Algiers).
Does that mean that the sentiment of the Libyan and Maghreb people – to name only these two – vis-à-vis foreign powers (the United States and other European countries) has reached a tipping point?
Not at all.
In fact, the Arab Spring triggered by the Tunisian youth, and followed by other brotherly Arab countries – namely Egypt, Libya, and Yemen – owes its success to U.S. support.
In his 2011 State of the Union address, the American president declared without equivocation: “And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people”.
Young democracies born from the Arab Spring could have stopped themselves from displaying this sentiment if the hateful movie against the noble prophet of Islam had not been released.
The movie’s motivating factors may go beyond our Muslim pride to be a mere electoral attack against the outgoing U.S. president.
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