Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Religion as Pretext or Cause in Attacks in Cairo, Egypt and Libya

By Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Originally posted 9/12/12 at The Washington Post

Religion has been used as an excuse for violence since the time of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), and perhaps even before. Religion, however, is never the full cause, nor the full excuse for “religiously motivated” violence; instead, it is very often an unholy mixture of religion and politics.

This seems very much the case in Libya as well as Egypt right now. The American ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed by a rocket outside the American consulate in Benghazi. This followed protesters scaling the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and attempting to burn the American flag.

The pretext for this violence? Reportedly, the flashpoint was a YouTube trailer of a “wooden,” amateurish movie by an Israeli filmmaker based in California. This film purportedly attacks Islam, and particularly the Prophet Muhammed, through insulting depictions. The filmmaker, Sam Bacile, admitted, “This is a political movie.” 

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