Islam is a religion of peace, we are told. Then someone posts a YouTube video designed to upset Muslims, and succeeds in spades. There are enormously violent protests by Muslims demanding retribution against… well… I don’t think they’re quite sure who, but of course whoever they’re angry at must be American, and they want an apology from the American government.

Is this reasonable? Of course not. The government had nothing to do with it. Is this video protected by freedom of speech? In an ideal world, it would be, but given that it seems to have been designed to incite just the reaction that occurred, it may be seen by some as akin to the proverbial “shouting fire in a crowded theater.” It’s worth noting that YouTube has refused a U.S. Government request to delete the video in question.

There are larger questions to which I have no answers, but I believe the questions need asking.

  1. Should the whole world be obliged to know and honor Islamic sensibilities to avoid “causing” such violence?
  2. If so, how many followers does a religion need before it can demand such an obligation?
  3. Should the predictability of such violence be taken as an indictment of the faith as a whole?
  4. Is it reasonable of the non-Muslim world to expect condemnation of such violent protests from other ostensibly peaceful Muslims? There seems to have been none thus far. (It has yet to be shown that the attack on U.S. diplomats in Libya, which has been condemned by the Libyan government, was related to the violent protests of the video, even though they both happened at the same time.)
  5. Is such condemnation prohibited by Islam itself, or is the lack of such condemnation due to fear of reprisal?
  6. If criticism of Islam is always met with violent response, then what is to prevent Islam from being corrupted from within and used for unscrupulous purposes?