Friday, September 14, 2012

Alarm about American speech increases because of film, but evidence suggests attacks would have happened anyway

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that film permit for “Desert Warriors” (aka “Innocence of Muslims”) has been pulled from public street view, at law enforcement request (both local and FBI), out of caution, from an LA location.  The permit was supplied by “FilmL.A.”   This is said to be an unusual step for security. The story (Sept. 13) is here.

But ABC News this morning issued a much more alarming story, about at Joint Intelligence Bulletin by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, to the effect that extremist groups eager to “export anger” could stir up violent incidents a home in the US or Europe.  No specific threats were mentioned, but already there have occurred apparent “copycat” threats in Texas and North Dakota, which were quickly found to be hoaxes.  The ABC story is here

I have not been able to find the original of the Bulletin online.  It seems to be jumping to conclusions for the media to say that the film itself has endangered national security, but a newsfeed on the bottom of a CNN screen this morning said that.. NTAS has no active alerts right now.  

CNN’s religion editor  Dan Gilgoff nexplains why Muslims are so offended by some visual depictions of Muhammad.  He discusses a  1977 film called “The Message” (Moustapha Akkad)  where he is depicted as a shadow.  The prohibition also relates to idol worship, also well known in Judaism and Christianity both. (I remember that particularly from third grade, when I confessed in a religion class to having “idols”!)

The Wall Street Journal, in an opinion piece today by Husain Haqqani, argues clearly that radicals are trying to use the film as an excuse for violence.  Had the film not appeared, another pretext for rioting would have been found.  I strongly agree with this interpretation (and said so on Facebook yesterday).  “Conservative” columnists are coming around to this view.  The link (paywall) is here

The Washington Post has reported that the White House had asked Youtube to review the film Tuesday, and CNN reports that YouTube has said that the film is within its TOS requirements within the US and most western countries.  (That surprises me.) But it appears that the film will be pulled in the Middle East.
There is a letter to the Editor of the Washington Post today arguing that producers of the film have shouted “fire” in a “world that should have free speech” but doesn’t.  The link is here.

There are additional reports that the video did not gain widespread traction in the Middle East until "someone" added the Arabic subtitles (which they could have made up) and sent it to Egyptian journalists, deliberately. 

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