21 September 2012, 18:30

US adheres to double-standard policies as film protests flare up

US adheres to double-standard policies as film protests flare up

The Los Angeles judge on Thursday rejected the request from actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appears in the controversial ‘Innocence of Muslims’ movie, to suit producer Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and the search giant Google which owns the YouTube video hosting server where the film appeared.

The film remains available on YouTube and the access to it has not been banned, at least in the US. This is how Washington confirms its adherence to the principle which puts the freedom of speech above all other values. The judge did not seem to take into consideration the fact that ‘Innocence of Muslims’ sparked mass protests in the Muslim world, which claimed the lives of over 30 people, including the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. 

The court`s ruling comes amid a new outbreak of anti-US protests in Muslim countries on Friday, which is a holy day in Islam. Tensions grew especially tense in Pakistan where September 21 was declared a “Day of Love for the Prophet Mohammad”. The U.S. embassy in Pakistan has been running television advertisements (their production is said to be worth $ 70,000) featuring President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the government had nothing to do with the film. 

This sounds strange if we remember what the US and other western countries actually do. When they condemn the film they, however, refuse to sacrifice the holy cow of what they describe as common human values but which in fact are purely western liberal values such as the freedom of speech or human rights. 

It must be mentioned, however, that double standards are applied here, too. Recently, when an Italian magazine published Kate Middleton topless photos, France ruled that those involved in the distribution of the pictures would be prosecuted. At the same time, French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo issued Prophet Mohammad Cartoons. When the publication was sold out (with many Muslims burning the magazine shortly after buying), the editorial board announced the release of extra copies.


Despite the fact that those latest caricatures of Prophet Muhammad poured fuel on the flames of anti-Western protests in the Muslim world and forced France to shut its diplomatic missions in Islamic countries for at least one day, there has been a fairly mild response on the part of the authorities. In an official statement posted on his website, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, in an official statement posted on his website, defended the freedom of expression as one of the cornerstones of France’s democracy.


Meanwhile, an opinion poll held by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center shows that religious intolerance in the world has increased dramatically over the past two years, including in the United States and Switzerland that have always been regarded the most tolerant countries.


But Pew’s research methods are open to dispute. Although the indexes of government restrictions and social hostilities are calculated separately, many things that actually differ in essence are mixed together. Nor do they take into account the different reactions of the government and the public to virtually identical things.


Thus, following Pew’s logic, the actions of the artists, who drew caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, or priest Terry Jones, who burnt a copy of the Quran on last year’s 9/11 anniversary, or the authors of “The Innocence of the Muslims”, or a blasphemous punk-prayer in an Orthodox church are all presumed to have an equal effect on the “social hostilities” index. But while the Russian government promptly moved to curb sorties that kindle interreligious hatred, nothing of the sort has been done in the West.


One cannot but agree with Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who said in his Love Prophet Day address on Friday that the freedom of speech was being used in many countries to insult the religious feelings of believers. He urged Muslims to cooperate with representatives of other religions to ensure proper respect for the feelings of all the faithful irrespective of their faith.

Boris Volkhonsky, expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.

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