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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Anti-American sentiment in Middle East is cause for self-reflection

    Pope Benedict XVI made his first visit since 2009 to Lebanon this weekend, in the wake of upheaval sparked by an incendiary video created by a California filmmaker under the pseudonym Sam Bacile.

    An excerpt from the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocks the Prophet Muhammad, was originally posted on YouTube in July to little attention, but after it aired on Egyptian television, it sparked protests and riots across the world (in and out of the Middle East).

    After the pope’s visit, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, urged Muslims worldwide to protest against the film and push for the criminalization of “insulting monotheistic faiths and their great prophets, from Abraham to Moses to Jesus and Mohammed.”
    Although the waves of unrest have led to questions of anti-American sentiment in the Arab world, the blame should actually lie in the U.S.

    Although most people are likely good, a small group of hateful people is all it takes to incite a different and equally small group of hateful people to react in a negative way — basically what happened in this case.

    It could come from anyone, such as the pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who this April burned a Quran and sparked protests in Afghanistan that led to the deaths of more than 20 people.

    It could come from politicians, celebrities or anyone with a website.

    Or, it could be from the preacher out on the UA Mall, telling students they are going to hell for being Muslim, Jewish or gay.

    This is the most efficient way to get a message across and stir resentment: Have thousands of extremists in locales where they can preach to dozens or hundreds of people about how righteous their way of life is, and how wrong everyone else is.

    People such as these make the world a harder place to live in while people like Chris Stevens, the ambassador to Libya killed last week, are trying to make it safer.

    These preachers, a minority to be sure, stir the pot enough to get other extremists to act out, sometimes violently, as has been the case for the past week.

    In these situations, radical minorities get the loudest voice while the majority of good, honest and (mostly) tolerant people are muted in the process.

    It is ignorance and a blind view toward Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Americans, that lead to these actions and reactions, creating a hostile environment for members, radical or not, on both sides.

    It is a lose-lose situation in which people begin to frame a different population in a negative way and internalize it.

    We continue to perceive Muslims as violent and Americans are arrogant. And the world is that much less understanding than it was before the release of “Innocence of Muslims.”

    Take that bullhorn away from the preacher on the UA lawn, because he may be the next one to upload a video, start a riot and drown your voice.

    We should work as a majority to promote understanding and acceptance of communities and peoples outside our own.

    — Andres Dominguez is a senior studying journalism and political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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