Recent violent outbreaks in Libya after the film The Innocence of Muslims, an American-made movie with an anti-Islam message launched on YouTube, led to the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. In an article published by the New York Times, radical fundamentalists in Libya call for an apology and outright punishment of the U.S. filmmakers because of the blasphemous nature of the film. These rioters claim the right to free speech in a democratic society includes a stern restitution for such quips.
Why is it that citizens in a newly formed, democratic state such as Libya are determined to exercise excessive amounts of violence in regard to others rights to free speech? The outlandish attack on the U.S. consulate was far from democratic, and, at best, could be considered barbaric. This ploy for a democratic ideal in a recently liberated Libya is not supported or even acknowledged in the western belief of freedom of opinion and expression. The U.S. right to speak freely on any subject stands as a means to relinquish censorship, not protect it from backlash. Even so, citizens of a true democratic state with a right to the freedom of speech do not expect or condone violence neither do they demand an apology for the remarks that are made. Such ideology is lapsed in many Muslim fundamentalists thinking. This is evident in the overt assault of the U.S. embassy which, unfortunately, led to three deaths.
What makes it acceptable for radical rioters of the Muslim faith to disregard the value of human life as compared to those who are not under Koranic law? On the other side, a French political cartoonist recently published caricatures of the prophet Mohammed committing lewd acts, at a time when violence and uproar seemed to have become placated. Despite warnings, the artist released the cartoon, intending to employ his right to free speech, a gambit move considering current events. The French government is wary of acts of vengeance from radical Muslim cultures such as al-Qaida and took action to prepare the country for possible attacks.
Sentiments of these events are summed up perfectly in last weeks airing of the weekend update segment of Saturday Night Live in reference to the attacks on the U.S. consulate after the release of the Innocence of Muslims: You guys know YouTube has a comment section, right?
Rachel Kengle is a senior majoring in psychology.