Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fighting fire

I spoke to a few teenagers the other day about Sam Bacile's "Innocence of Muslims" and the widespead violent response to it. Imagine my surprise when they asked me what it was all about. With this news hogging headlines in every print and internet publication, it was incredible these youth of the internet generation were not all that aware of what was going on. I can understand it if they didn't know about the Chinese and Japanese tussling over an island somewhere between China and Japan. It is between 2 close neighbours who have had a long history of conflict. This latest demonstration over a amateur movie has been widely publicized and correspondingly vilified by adherents to the Islamic faith. Google has reportedly blocked the video to countries such as Libya, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia - countries with large numbers of Muslims. Although Muslims in Singapore do not form the majority, the government has also asked for it to be blocked and Google has reportedly obliged. Or has it?

There are now many versions of the movie. So much so that the movie, in part or in whole, is still accessible in Singapore. This goes to show that it is very hard to censor anything on the internet. Even countries which block access to Facebook, like China, fight a losing battle. It is relatively easy to bypass the restrictions with counter technologies. That's why I think that the best way to fight fire is with fire. This is what some Muslims have done, by putting up videos that counter the message of the "Innocence of Muslims". In my opinion, this is a far more rational and effective way of responding to something you don't agree with and not by staging violent and deadly demonstrations all over the world. These demonstrations only serve to prove that Islam is a certain type of religion, justifying the very accusations made of it.

But the mob is often unreasonable and, frankly, ignorant. Ask how many of those demonstrating have actually seen the movie and I will wager that not one of them has seen it. They may have heard about it, perhaps from many quarters. It is typical of people to exaggerate as they denigrate others. It works both ways. Sadly the net result is the death of Muslims rather than a real chastisement of the perpetrators of the video in question.

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