prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Arab Spring Gives Way to the Arab Fall

Posted by prof e on September 12, 2012

On the anniversary of 9/11, rioting in Cairo and the murder of Libyan ambassador John Christopher Stevens, and several others, at the US consulate in Benghazi is a stark reminder that we still don’t understand the complex nature of middle-eastern politics and Islamic extremism. In the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “how could this happen in a country we helped liberate and in a city we helped to save from destruction.” It is becoming increasingly clear that the overthrow of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi brought new freedom, but also instability, to the region.

There are several connections to mass media in this story. First, much has been made of the role of social media in bringing democracy to Northern Africa and the Middle East. Second, news reports say that a YouTube video criticizing Mohammed was the initial spark that ignited the riots. The two-hour YouTube video, produced and written by Sam Bacile, a California real estate developer, was made for $5 million. A 13-minute trailer/excerpt can be seen here. According to reports, the film portrays the prophet Mohammed as, “a fraud, a pedophile and a womanizer.” Muslims do not allow the portrayal of Mohammed in any form, but are particularly intolerant of depictions that are perceived as an insult. Afghanistan blocked YouTube today in an attempt to prevent access to the controversial video.

While freedom of speech and freedom of expression are highly valued in American culture, much of the world does not share our appreciation for speech that sometimes offends segments of the audience. In this country individuals can safely criticize government entities and religious institutions without fear of reprisal. But that is not the case in many countries and cultures dominated by totalitarian rulers or oppressive religious factions.

While Americans hold their noses and “tolerate” protests by Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist “Church”, the response has not been so generous in other contexts. Take, for example, the case of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who made Submission, a movie that many Muslims found offensive. After the movie was shown on Dutch public television, Van Gogh was killed by a “Muslim extremist.” The killer shot Van Gogh eight time, stabbed him, and attempted to decapitate him. When a Danish newspaper published caricatures of the prophet in 2005, it sparked riots in many Muslim countries.

Because we are in an election season, the news also took a political twist. According to a report by the BBC,

Mitt Romney, Mr Obama’s Republican challenger in the forthcoming presidential election, criticized the US administration’s response to the attacks in Benghazi and Cairo, saying it had appeared to “sympathize with those who waged the attacks”.

Religious freedom, freedom of speech, and tolerance for opposing views are values not to be taken lightly. And when they appear to be in conflict with each other, the stakes are even higher.

21 Responses to “Arab Spring Gives Way to the Arab Fall”

  1. sebersole said

    Interesting side note:

  2. Felix Cordova said

    The first amendment states that citizens of the U.S have the right to say what they want, the freedom of speech. So the fact that the movie was made is within the law, but the fact that it is bening censored is an infringement of our rights. If other countries don’t know how to react, then that’s on them, not on the person who produced the film. Many people of our world are ignorant and others are biased in perception. People are molded by the restraints set upon them, but for people to take their religion that seriously is a sensitive issue that I could never understand. I belive in God and Jesus Christ as my svaior, but I would never be willing to take someone’s life for saying the opposite. They posed the question, “Do we take our rights serioulsy?” Well, we should, and retalliation is what we should respond with. If we take our rights seriously, then our country should protect them as well. By killing innocent Americans, they have waged war.

  3. Leah Fields said

    Wow, Prof. E! I had suspected that you didn’t really read all that much, neither of traditional so called “credible” investigative journalism or of the notably quirkier journalism type junk floating about the web; but I’ve now been confirmed in my hunch that most of your topics are chosen probably after noticing whatever might be trending on MSN’s homepage. Have you read ANY of the comprehensive news media regarding the goings on in North Africa, let alone specifically in Libya before, during, or since the American incursion/assassination into Libya and the sinister elimination of Gaddafi? Do you possess any inkling of understanding or background information into the Geo-Political Chess Match playing out in that region of the world? By the way this topic is set up, at best you’ve scanned one or two articles, maybe — at best. At worst, you’ve filtered your query into this subject through some sort of generic, narrow personal disposition toward Islamic culture, the Arab Spring, and America’s “noble” involvement in such machinations.

    The “overthrow” of Gaddafi, once an odd American bedfellow, is a much more complex issue than the neat and tidy way in which you’ve framed it. ” America’s Liberation of Libya” HA! What a chuckle this gives. And painting the tragedy of recent events as little more than riotous acts by a bunch bunch of angry zealots with a bone to pick is to give away your deficit for studying these media stories. Thank goodness for professional tenure, eh.

    Then, you conflate issues of Free Speech here at home with the angst of a country embroiled in a mufti-faceted civil war and also flippantly connote the tensions between Christian and Islamic world views and preface the entire bit with a toss to anniversary of 9/11. Talk about stirring the pot.

    How irresponsible and just plain lazy minded this was. Best to stick with the reoccurring blog topic of why seeing a pair of boobies during Prime Time is “indecent.” Pffffffffffft!

  4. I found this article very interesting because it is really opens eyes to how much diversity there is in the world and how much the word ‘freedom’ really entails. In America, I think the word is taken for granted a lot. There are many people who know they are ‘free’, but do not necessarily know what it means not to be. The founding fathers of America believed in freedom of the press and freedom of speech. We, as American citizens, are allowed to have and express our own opinions in whatever way we please. This privilege does not extend to the Middle East and other countries. This article is an example of what happens when thoughts or opinions are shared that violate the common belief of power figures in such countries. It just goes to show that even though the United States has helped to introduce democracy to Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East, there are no guarantees that it will stay. Other countries see that freedom the U.S. grants its citizens as frivolous and dangerous while we citizens cannot imagine life any other way.

  5. Desarey B said

    After watching the movie trailer/excerpt, it does seem as the individuals who produced the film are taunting their prophecy the Great Muhammad. You can clearly tell that the people in the movie are white Americans; there are some parts where they are speaking over the actual voice, and continuously call him out of his name. This is man that people from the Middle East live by his virtue and name. The praise him five times a day, and live only because they believe he has granted them the will to. Although Americans were granted the amendment to express themselves to any extend they feel, they also have to be willing to suffer consequences attributing to their actions. These people only struck back because to an extend they were hurt to see their almighty portrayed in such a light. I believe some Americans if they were taunted about a God and they felt really strongly about their religion could have easily performed the same actions these people did. We hit them where it hurt; they had to make sure we, as Americans knew that, what better way than taking one of our lives.

  6. Noelle Clark said

    As mentioned in the first paragraph, Americans do not know much about middle-eastern politics and Islamic Extremism. However, it is not as much that we do not know information about as we do not want to know and learn about it. Prior to 9/11, most Americans knew little to nothing about Islam. Therefore, the only connection that those people have to Islam is the 9/11 terrorist acts of extreme Islamism. It is safe to make the assessment that the general American public does not know more than a few details about what Islam. For that reason, the public assumes that the news about Muslims that are carried by the media to represent Islam as a whole. The people acting based off of this video – which is rumored to not even be the true cause of the attack on the US consulate in Libya but a cover up – represent a very small majority. When I spent time in Michigan in a community of extremely conservative Muslims they all expressed feelings of great remorse and embarrassment because people representing their culture acted in a way to give a false interpretation of their culture and caused harm to our society.

    I think it is ironic how upset Westerners will get when Muslims are protesting against Western powers. They are protesting – in part – to the fact that individuals continue to disgrace Islam, usually by portraying the prophet Mohammad, which is a definite violation of Islamic law. I believe that many Muslims are upset at our lack of knowledge of their culture and how some Westerners mock it due to a lack of understanding. It seems that Westerners are upset that Muslims react when we do something which they find offensive, but do not think that they have a right to be upset in the opposite situation.

  7. Cassie said

    In the article, one of the first points that is made is the quote from Hillary Clinton asking why could a country that we have helped out so much go and do something like this. What we are failing to realize is that the death of Gaddafi is still a fresh topic for the middle east and it has brought both stability and anarchy. Before 9/11, we tried to help the middle east but knew very little about the dynamics of Islamic Politics. My personal opinion is the way they tend to handle things is quite barbaric.

    The reason for all of this to have happened is all about this video that was made by a Californian real estate agent that was produced for $5 Million that is slandering and making fun of the prophet Mohammad. This is a very understandable sensitive topic. That would be for us if the middle east then produced a video slandering out most popular religious view, Jesus Christ as lord of Christianity.

    Islamic culture is by no means as advanced as the United States. We may have helped out and tried to teach values and demonstrate how WE would like them to handle their business, but I believe that they have not yet discovered how the power of opinion and words can be hurtful.

    From a US political stance, this is a very good chance to see what each candidate says about these events. Mitt Romney went on to criticize the US administrative response to say that he “sympathizes with those who waged the attacks”. A situation such as this has many opportunities to be a learning experience for both countries, cultures and political systems.

  8. James R. Vigil said

    This article depicts the vibrant reality that some Americans underestimates the affects that can be drawn from speech and video. Even if the effects are known they are overlooked in so many cases to gain attention.Highlighting a faiths higher entity in any religion may cause reaction and draw out extremists because religion is such a touchy subject. In America there is a huge amount of religious tolerance and this creates a distinct atmosphere unlike any others on this planet. Freedom of speech in America allows us as Americans to evaluate and develope opinions lyke no other nation, and because of the subject matter Sam Bacile’s opinion has been highlighted because of his negative depiction about the prophet Mohammad. As a nation it is our responcibility to make it clear that this was this the opinion of one person and that it does not represent the mass of our population. One mans opinion is one mans opinion and even though this type of sterotype does exist it doesnt mean that it represents what America feels and understands.

  9. Ray Hall said

    Even though the man that produced the movie, “Sam Bacile” can constitutionally make a controversial movie, i believe it is wrong. The producer made the movie with no intention of making art, but instead inciting conflict in the Middle East. I don’t think the director deserves to be punished by the USA government because he broke no laws, but I do not think the government should protect him from extremist that will be looking for him. I think it is wrong that the people in the Middle East protesting the film murdered innocent Americans who were there to help their countries, I also think it is wrong and takes away from the murders when the politicians use it to fuel their campaigns.

  10. Jonathon Mathews said

    Reading this article I can understand where they are coming from and at the same time understand that they should realize what we do sometimes is to set them in the right direction to improve their government and their nation as one. America and the Islamic community have totally different views when it comes to watching a video that has something to do with their beliefs and how they view their own beliefs. Like it is said in the article, America has the freedom to speak about their thoughts and what they believe in, where as in their country, a video can bring outrage to the Muslim community, Islamic community, and the world. In our country we share our thoughts not knowing the effects it can cause and can bring more negative thoughts and judgement to our country than there already is. If we focus on more on what needs to be changed instead of judging another country because of their beliefs than maybe we can come to a resolution that can bring us all together whether we like our beliefs or not.

  11. Muhammad Talha Qureshi said

    After reading this article I can conclude two major points. Firstly that all religions existing in this world deserve equal respect and freedom to be practiced. No matter, if some one is Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Jewish, s/he deserves respect for his/her religion with full freedom to practice it. As in case of this cartoon/movie controversy against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) of Islam, I consider, it was a great dis respect and an extreme level of insult for the Muslims and Islam- the religion Muslims preach- as since historical times, it has been witnessed that Muslims possess great level of respect for their Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and believe in the positive aspects of his personality. Therefore making a video and portraying the Prophet who is widely respected among the followers of Islam, shows religious in tolerance by the maker of that cartoon/movie. Freedom of speech is every individual’s right but one has to make sure that it stays with in the limit of not hurting or affecting others. YouTube has served as the great media tool for individuals unlike Television, but at the same time users also need to make sure that such media tools are used with in limits.

    Secondly as per the death of the US Ambassador John Christopher Stevens, I have to say that it was a complete act of in justice and in tolerance by those extremist who find religion Islam as an excuse to perform such acts of violence. In first place he didn’t had any thing to do with that incident directly and he was working in Libya as the ambassador to promote cross cultural understanding between the two countries. If this act of violence was made in the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), then the extremists should have followed the path of their beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who used to forgive all his enemies and had won great wars with peace, patience and humanity, rather than this worst kind of in human act of killing John Stevens. Justice is still required for Steven’s family who lost their beloved hero, in the midst of what he was not supposed to be held responsible for!!!

  12. Melissa Miller said

    Blog Comment:
    The best thing about freedom of speech is the freedom to try and pursuade, a true challenge. Regardless if the forum is in a comedy club or a congrssional session, persuasive speech is all pervasive.
    As a student of communications and media types the prevailing persuasion is towards a sale; everyone’s a salesman. Can you think of a time when someone you know tried to sell you on the idea of, for example, ham sandwich as oposed to turkey, or movie instead of bowling?
    The economy is relationships, and relationships are negotiations for needs.
    In the blog post “Arab Spring Gives Way to Arab Fall,” posted September, 12, by “sebersole” brutality and rioting are the subjects for further consideration, in addition to the relationship America has with Lybian culture.
    In the post “sebersole” quotes Hilary Clinton as she wonders how the murder of an American ambassabor to Libya could happen there because we helped the country embrace the democratic process.
    The essence of my comment is that American culture is self-depricating and seems unable to relate to an other country’s stringent sincerity and adherence to absolutes. American culture embraces the ‘shades of grey’ and calls itself a ‘melting pot.’ In a country like Libya traditions have held over time and the collective unconcious ravels farther back into the black and white past to a time when honor and murder were still brothers in arms.
    American culture requires that people obey rules of tolerance, willing to see beyond differences towards the spirit of cooperation.
    Still, even cooperation has to have an end goal. During times of tumult and confusion to remember to follow ones moral and ethical codes of right behavior towadrs a ultimate judgement and unity with the Lord becomes easy to forget.

    The key is diplomatic reaction with skilled pursuasion. Retaliation, as suggested by F. Cordova in his blog post, comes in form of the knowledge of the other parties true suffering. Otherwise it is an endless game of one man for one man, ‘an eye for an eye’ on into forever; and then men are just born to die for it.

  13. James Harvey said

    Though I have not watched the video and do not intend to do so, I find it ridiculous for such a large group of people to go to such extremes to seek revenge on American people for the video. As far as I understand, the US government, and for the matter, few American people were involved in making of the $5million dollar youtube movie. The people who allowed their anger to flair so much are in need of some serious help! These people made a hasty generalization that took lives and created much tension between Middle Eastern Countries and the United States. Not all Americans agree with the message the video portrays, but after the reaction it drew, more and more Americans will develop hard feelings towards the people of Middle Eastern Countries.

  14. Dominick Ledezma said

    Ahhh, America and it’s quaint little laws about free speech, tolerance and acceptance.. What would we be without them eh? True, the same thing that we believe our country to champion and be a bastion for– the right to speak one’s mind freely and without worry–is indeed the scourge that so many other nations corrupt leader’s and dissident, woefully misled minds seek to tamp out.

    What we have in this country in free speech may be the last, truly great and laudable trait our nation can boast. Is there still racism here? Yes. Inequality? Yes. Corruption? You bet. Unnecessary war? Poor Public schooling? Check and check…

    Even though we are proud owners of all aforementioned, on-going social woes and yes, also a great deal of hypocrisy in terms of “who” exactly gets their free speech carte blanche and how absolute or un-absolute that right really is, one has to say to him or herself, at least that 1st Amendment still stands firm for me.

    What’s on the other side of our false faith in that constitution of ours though? A doctrine scripted so long ago, by men that couldn’t possibly fathom such things as retaliatory mobs engulfing consulates over video trailers posted on Youtube. How much more muddled could the situation be? Are the Muslim people around the world over-reacting? Can a you blame the abused for lashing out at their abusers when they do?

    We barely are coming to an understanding about what truly ails our friends in the middle east and Africa, it is ridiculous to assume that we know what’s best for them. The Arab Spring was a remarkable thing. It brought us closer to people world’s away, who more often than not, live under Unitary, totalitarian, religious rulers.

    We excluded just how implicit our own government is in the suffering of those same people, and now that they themselves are beginning to perhaps realize the covert nature of that age old fact that is American Imperialism abroad, we shudder to think just how responsible we may in fact be for their outrage.

    The Egyptian Embassy was just one situation in a long line of situations that unfortunately will continue in an increasingly unstable part of the world, (much to the chagrin of Israel I’m sure) marred by foreigners seeking wealth as well as radical, even idiotic new faces violently bucking back at them, most often to no avail and at their own peril.

  15. Joe Giudice said

    Honestly, does anyone who posted on this topic bother to read, listen, think or even follow the story as it develops in the news media?

    AC 360, last night, Anderson Cooper and Arwa Damon report that a well organized armed militia group, in all likelihood, coordinated a premeditated attack on the embassy to kill the “diplomats” who were working to set the stage for American business interests to enter the country and exploit it’s resources. Plain, simple reporting, yet still superficial enough to largely go unnoticed by the average media consumer, who doesn’t dare fathom the idea that American liberators were plain up to no good.

    This whole guise of religious extremists going hog wild and killing the embassy workers is a red herring. Sure, their are also angry rioters reacting to the aforementioned film, but the embassy killing’s were more about stifling the American highjack of a newly forming Libyan government still fighting a civil war. According to the reporting just from AC 360 alone last night, it seems clear that the Embassy diplomat and former Navy SEALs (CIA Agents) who got killed — took their eyes off the ball — in terms of their own security; instead, opting to focus more on setting the stage for corporate interests seeking access to the country’s wealth.

    In their haste, and possibly because the American Empire itself is now too broke to properly fund another “nation building” scheme, the embassy workers didn’t bother to heed Libyan friendlies’ warnings that opposing militia were still a potent threat to security. This was incompetence on the part of our government and the worker’s themselves to sufficiently implement this covert Libyan agenda, and it just happened to occur within a parallel context of emergent cultural and religious angst instigated by foreign film and media propaganda.

    What I’m curious to see is just how long other World Super Powers will continue to tolerate these shenanigan’s by a desperate U.S. Empire in economic free fall. Now that’s a freak show worth ‘liking” on Facebook!

  16. Evan Duran said

    The events in the Arab world on 9/11/2012 don’t make a lot of sense to us as Americans. We see people rioting in Cairo because they are offended by a YouTube video produced in this country because of the way it depicts Muslims and we don’t understand. In America we are used to seeing all kinds of offensive stuff and because of our tolerance we simply recognize people have the right to say and print what they want. No matter who you are or what you believe, you can find something that offends you that is protected by the First Amendment. While we are moving towards becoming more tolerant of offensive things, it appears the Arab world is becoming less tolerant. The October 2012 article entitled “Nudity, Fleeting Expletives and Lies” addresses recent Supreme Court activity concerning tolerance for things that may be offensive. Based on recent decisions, celebrities can now use fleeting expletives on television and liars can claim they have won military medals. At least until new laws are enacted. The point is that, In America, we believe in free speech and in the Arab world there are many that don’t and many of those act it out violently. If we continue to look at the Arab world through American lenses we are bound to be disappointed and maybe even killed.

  17. Dakota Charleston said

    Although the first Amendment allows us to have freedom of speech I do feel that what has taken place with the video was too much and they have taken advantage of that right. There is a difference between freedom of speech and being an idiot. Americans should not be put in danger because of one person’s mistakes and bad decisions. In the article “Nudity, Fleeting Expletives, and Lies” it states the recent Supreme Court activity concerning tolerance for things that me be found offensive to some. The article states, “But if Congress passes a better Stolen Valor Act, it may not be this way forever.” and I agree with this quote because I feel that there should be better regulation, so something like the video that depicts Muslims as bad people, will not be allowed to be made or shown. Putting Americans in danger over a video is not worth it. There is a difference between freedoms of speech and saying something that will offended someone to the point of wanting to kill you. I think some people abuse our First Amendment and this needs to stop there needs to be better guidelines so something like this won’t happen again.

  18. Donovan Schmitt said

    This act of ignorance is no freedom of speech, not matter what your trying to portray. Depicting Prophet Mohammed as anything , but good is against everything. If someone over in the Middle East made a video about Jesus, talking about him in a negative way, they would get deeply in trouble. In the article, “Nudtiy, Fleeting Expletives, and Lie,” When U2 said what they said, they tried to say they said that because its okay in Europe to say things liek that because of it being acceptable over there. This goes for the people in America, for that man actually because he thought he was expresing his opinion because over here we do that. This is not always the case, and I’m glad that we took action against this because it shows us as Americans we don’t take no bull.

  19. Kacy George said

    Freedom of speech is truly something special and very powerful, but when people use that right in a way that is ignorant and demeaning it turns into a struggle of right or wrong. I believe this guy that made this video that offended Muslims is an idiot and shows you the wrong way to use your freedom of speech. When you do something that you know will offend a large population and put people in danger its going way past freedom of speech.From the article “Nudity, Fleeting Expletives and Lies” I think it’s ridiculous that networks gets fined millions of dollars for having people like Cher saying, “So f*** ‘em.” on television. These two situations are totally different, but I believe we should crack down on the more serious matters such as the video than caring so much about someone saying the f word on television.

  20. Kurt Pineda said

    Kurt Pineda

    Personally I think that students deserve the freedom of speech, because how will professors learn if they have made a mistake or not. If you could not speak your mind you would not be able question a problem or an assignment. I would be as if we lived in a dictatorship country. Everyone needs to be able to take criticism, if we did’nt we would never know what we need to improve on or what we are actually capable of. Whether that be a doctor, professor, or even a cashier at Mcdonalds we all need to speek freely and argue against and for whats we think is right.

  21. Kurt Pineda said

    Freedom of speech is what makes America different from the other countries. Without it no one would know whats right from wrong, or how well they did. But the case is toward professors. When your talking to your professor you of course should use the best speech abilities you may have and address them properly. But if they were to say something that is incorrect and you do not fully understand then you should raise your hand and disagree. But some people that I have seen — in college but in high school — curse at the teacher because the go back and forth yelling why they are right and why the other is wrong. That is where your freedom of speech must stop. When your talking bad about someone or something in a public place then its wrong. So it depends on who the professor offended and how he did. But I am for him and the Firefly program.

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