“I don’t understand,” said the Muslim Arab taxi-driver who drove me to work one day last week. “Why do they always insult the Prophet Muhammed and the Islamic faith?”
Attempts to elicit who “they” are prove less than successful, but I gather he means “America” – a somewhat amorphous entity halfway across the world. I explain that the controversial film (which, of course, he has not seen) was neither created nor sponsored by the American government but by a private citizen, apparently of Egyptian Coptic origin.
I’m not sure if the taxi driver is convinced, but even if he is, he then demands to know: “Why did the Authorities allow him to show the film?”
Once again, I attempt to explain that in the United States, freedom of speech is protected by law. The driver is steadfast in his belief that if “they” were to make a film insulting any other religion, “the Authorities” would have put a stop to it.
“I don’t understand,” I say. “There are hundreds of films on YouTube far more insulting to the Prophet Muhammed and to Islam than this one, why has this particular film got everyone so aeriated?”
I feel I have him at a disadvantage here, because, unlike him, I have seen the film – or at least, the fifteen minute trailer – as well as many other “anti-Islamic” films on the Internet. But this doesn’t appear to matter. He, himself, hasn’t seen the film but he has heard from other people (who, I’m ready to bet, haven’t seen it either) that it’s insulting to Muslims and everyone is against it (everyone in the Muslim world, that is – ed.) and even the American government condemned the film (bit of a contradiction here, surely – ed.) so why haven’t they banned it?
It seems we’re back to Square One.
“I don’t understand,” says United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referring to the riots in Benghazi. “I asked myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”
The Secretary of State doesn’t understand?
The US originally backed the Taliban, in their war against the Soviet-backed Afghanistan government, but as soon as American help was no longer needed, the Taliban turned on the United States.
Many of the Islamist insurgents backed by the USA in Afghanistan, ended up in the ranks of Al Qaeda, sworn enemy of the United States.
Why, then, should it come as any surprise to Mrs Clinton that, despite US support for the anti-Gaddafi revolution (and for the so-called “Arab Spring” in general), the United States are no more popular in the Arab world than before? Why should it surprise her that the Muslim world, after accepting American help, then repays the US with a slap in the face?
And this is what is really inexplicable. The woman who is ultimately responsible for formulating the foreign policy of the United States – the leader of the Free World – doesn’t understand what is really going on in the Middle East.
I don’t know about you, but I find that thought profoundly disturbing.