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Algerian Solutions to the Film ‘Innocence of Muslims’

In the wake of the anti-Islam film entitled ‘Innocence of Muslims‘, and which was broadcast on YouTube, the Algerian tabloid Chourouk asked its readers in its online edition to answer the following question [ar]:

عرفت عدة دول إسلامية موجة احتجاجات على الفيلم المسيء للنبي الكريم صلى الله عليه وسلم، اتخذ بعضها طابعا عنيفا هل ترى بأن حرق السفارات والعنف طريقة مناسبة لنصرة الرسول الكريم؟ ام أنها شوهت صورة المسلمين ؟ وما هي افضل طريقة للرد على هذه الإساءات المتكررة برأيك؟

Several Muslim countries have undergone a wave of protests on the hate film directed against the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). Some of these protests had a violent form. Do you think that burning embassies and violence are a convenient way to support the Holy Prophet? Or has it further tarnished the image of Muslims? What, in your opinion, is the best way to respond to these repeated attacks on Islam?

Some 800 readers have attempted to answer this question and I will reproduce here a sample of their comments. The majority of comments have suggested that the best way to react to such repeated provocations is to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) and show his true character by putting his legacy into practice in all Muslim countries.  A number of commentators proposed boycotting all Western products:

الحل بـ: 1- العودة لاتباع سنة رسول الله ودين الاسلام ونشر احاديث وحث على حفظ كتاب الله 2- تفعيل المقاطعة بوضع استراتيجيات لاستعمال اموال البترول في انشاء مصانع تنافس عالميا “صنع في الجزائر” حتى لو كانت على سبيل التبعية الغير المباشرة متل الصين لكن على الاقل صنع في الجزائر وبيد جزائرية التي ستكتسب خبرة

The solution should be: 1) Following Islam and the Sunna (traditions) of the Holy Prophet, dissemination of his sayings (Hadith) and striving to preserve our Holy Book, 2) Putting boycott into practice by conceiving strategies for using oil money in development projects such as competitive factories which produce Algerian products (Made in Algeria), even if it would involve dependence on China for example. The main thing is that we would have products that are made in Algeria, by Algerian people who will gain experience in the process.

However, some commentators didn’t agree with the boycott option:

عن اي مقاطعة تتحدثون … هل تظنون أننا دولة و شعب و أمة … هم يؤكلوننا و يكسوننا … عندما نصبح دولة و شعب يأكل و يلبس مما ينتج … تكلموا عن المقاطعة …

What boycott are you talking about? Do you seriously think we are a State and a people and a nation? They feed and clothe us. When we become a State and a people who eat and wear what they produce, then you can speak of boycott

لا مقاطعة و لا محزان.يجب الرد على مثل هده الافعال الخبيثة باسلوب متحضر تجعل الشعوب الغربية تحلم بالاسلام. يجب دالك ان نراجع انفسنا ونتساال لمادا هدا. فنجد ان افعالنا و سلوكنا تجعل هؤلاء ينفرون من د يننا بل يخفونه و يكرهونه. لدا ان اردنا ان نحبب الاسلام لدى الغير فعلينا الابتعاد على العنف و الخيانة و التخلف الثقافي و الحضاري لان الاسلام يتماشى مع التقدم والتحضر و ليس بالرجوع الى الجاهلية او القرون الوسطى.

Boycott is not the solution. We need to answer such malicious acts in a civilised way which will make western people dream of Islam. We need to evaluate ourselves and ask why do such things happen? We will find that our actions and our behaviour scare others away from our religion and even hate it. So if we really want others to love Islam, we need to avoid violence, treachery and cultural and civilizational backwardness because Islam is adaptable to progress and not to regressing to the dark ages.

One citizen points out that boycott needn’t only target material possessions. He says:

- الرد يكون بعدم تطبيق الأفكار التي يدعون اليها كالديمقراطية التي يريدونها و حقوق الانسان التي ينظرون لها ….
- مقاطعة أفلامهم و أغانيهم و انتجاتهم الثقافية
- تبيين زيف ادعائهم للحرية الفكرية باثارة نفي المحرقة و تمجيد هتلر .
- اعلان وحدة العرب و المسلمين بتكتل عدة دول .
- استهداف من يقوم بالاساءة المنتج والممول شخصيا كالقس جو

The answer should be to boycott their ideas like democracy and human rights, their movies, songs and cultural products. We need to show how hypocritical and deceitful their calls for freedom of speech are by engaging in holocaust denial and glorification of Hitler. We need to demonstrate Arab unity by uniting several countries. We need to target the actual person behind such attacks, the producer and funder, Father Joe.

Many commentators pointed out that the reply should have the same form as the attack, so initiatives to show the real Prophet Mohamed through the media, arts and literature or via interactions in virtual or real social networks should be encouraged and supported [fr]:

La création d’un fond de la protection de l’Islam avec pour objectif la réaction dans un temps record à toute menace avec les moyens adéquats passifiques et autres. Ce fond sera secret et les membres seront musulmans et pas gouvernementaux comme les lobby à travers le monde.

The creation of a fund to protect Islam. Its objective will be to react timely to any threat, using adequate and peaceful means or others. This fund should be secret and its members should be Muslim civilians all around the world and not representatives of governments or any lobbies.

Hafid El Amir reckons:

أحسن رد سيكون بإنتاج فلم بلغات مختلفة عن حياة الرسول الكريم بمشاركة جميع الدول الإسلامية. وبما أن الهدف ليس ربح المال ، فبإمكاننا نشره في الدور السنيمائية بمختلف أنحاء العالم والدخول يكون بمبلغ رمزي. هم يدعون حرية الرأي فليسمعو رأينا في دور السنما لبلدانهم. وبما أن الحرب إعلامية فأحسن دفاع سيكون إعلامي. لا للتخريب لا للقتل لا وألف لا لكل أشكال العنف الحضارة تفرض علينا أن نستخدم عقولنا وقلوبنا فالمشاعر وحدها لا تكفي ولن تفي بالغرض. سلام.

The best answer would be to produce a film in many languages about the life of the Holy Prophet, wherein all Muslim countries would contribute. As the objective won’t be commercial, we could distribute the film in cinemas all around the world for a small fee. They are calling for freedom of expression, so let them hear our opinion in their cinemas. As the war is a media war, the best means of defense should be the media. No to violence and vandalism. Civilisation compels us to use our brains as well as our heart because feelings alone are not enough.

Soufiene thinks science and knowledge are the solution:

أفضل طريقة للرد على الغرب هي العلم وثم العلم وثم العلم لأننا وبكل صراحة وموضوعية لا نقدر حتى على تمثيل أفلام أو مسلسلات عادية فما بالك بالرسوم المتحركة ولو أردنا الحرب ضدهم بماذا سنحارب لأننا جاهلون وأصبحت المادة هي التي تسيطر علينا ونسينا ديننا ونسينا شرفنا وأقول لكم بأن الشعب هو الذي يصنع مجده ولكن المجد يأتي بالغلم والعمل ولكي نصبح أقوياء أكثر منهم يجب أن نعد الأجيال فلو أن كل عائلة في الجزائر تقدم في كل عام عالم جديد من أبناءها لأصبحت الجزائر مليئة بالعلماء ولتغير المجنمع للأحسن .

The best way to answer the West is science (knowledge) because, let’s be honest and objective here, we are not even capable of acting out ordinary films or series, let alone making cartoons. If we were to go to war against them, what would we fight with? We are ignorant, we’ve become enslaved by material things and we have forgotten our religion and our honor. I tell you, it is the people who make their glory, but glory comes through science, knowledge and hard work. To become stronger than them, we need to prepare the future generations, if every Algerian family produces one scientist every year among its children, Algeria would fill-up with scientists and the society will change for the better.

Some commentators felt that the best way to deal with such occurrences should be to simply ignore them until they die away:

Zaman Twi says:

هؤلاء ناس كفرة ماذا ننتظر منهم و نحن السبب في هذه التجاوزات المتكررة لان هدف هؤلاء تتلخص في ثلاث نقاط
1- اظهار كرههم للاسلام علنا و بمظاهراتنا حققنا هذا الهدف
2- الدعاية لانفسهم بغية الشهرة و بمظاهراتنا حققنا هذا الهدف
3- اظهار المسلمين على انهم همج و بالتكسير و القتل حققنا هذا الهدف
اظن انه لو اننا تجاهلنا اول من قام بهذه الافعال لما جاء هؤلاء بعده و لو تجاهلناهم لما تكلم عنهم الاعلام
و لن يظرو نبينا الكريم في شيء لاننا نعرف من هو و من هم

These people are unbelievers, what do you expect from them when we are the reason for these repeated abuses! The goal of these people is three-fold:

1-      Show their hatred of Islam publicly and by our demonstrations, we helped them achieve it

2-      Self-publicity for the sake of fame and by our demonstrations, we helped them achieve it

3-      Prove that Muslims are violent and by vandalising and killing we helped them prove it

I think that had we ignored the very first person who did such things, there would have been no others since and the media wouldn’t have made such a fuss. They cannot harm our Holy Prophet, because we know who he is and who they are.

Abdou says agrees but for a different reason:

احسن رد على هذه الاساءاة هو عدم الرد
لان اغلبنا لا يجيد الرد
والمسلمون يسيؤون الرسول صباح مساء

The best answer would be not to answer because most of us (Muslims) are not good at answering such abuse. In addition, we Muslims do abuse our Prophet day and night (by not applying his teachings).

A few commentators focused on specific aspects of Islam as the best way to answer such abuses. For example, Tarek says:

أفصل طريقة للرد هي المداومة على صلاة الجماعة فوالله ليس هناك أكثر ما يخيف أعداء الإسلام غير الانتظام للصلاة جماعة فهي عماد الأمر

The best way to answer is to make a point of attending the Friday prayer, because, by God, there’s nothing that scares enemies of Islam more than mass prayer for it is the pillar of Islam.

Abou Abd El-Barri thinks the best way is for all Muslim women to wear the veil:

بسم الله والصلاة السلام علي خير البشر أجمعين اما بعد: فخير طريقة للرد لبس بناتنا الحجاب وعدم ابراز الصدر والارداف ان كتم تحبون الله والرسول

The best to answer is for all our daughters to wear the veil and not expose their bosoms and legs if you really love Allah and his Prophet.

Alaidrous, from Kolea in Algiers, thinks that the Salafis adopt a double standard in the way they deal with such things, he says:

قال تعالى ..قاتلوا الذين يلونكم من الكفار وليجدوا فيكم غلظة……يبدوا ان دعاة السلفية الذين كثيرا ما اطلو علينا بخطابات نارية اذا ما تعلق الامر بالشيعة لم يجدوا غطاء اخر لخذلهم للمسلمين..هذا طبعا بعد سقوط تميمتهم المعتادة في وجوب عبادة السلاطين والحكام وقيام ثوراث ضد عبدة دعاة السلفية….لم يجدوا الا عبارات للالتواء على الراى العام في العالم الاسلاميفانا منذ يومين يطرق سمعي عبارة..انصر نبيك باتباع سنته..طبعا هده العبارة هي كلمة حق اريد بها باطل…هؤلاء المتمسلفة كما عودونا دائما وجه للانخذال وخ

Allah says: “O ye who believe! Fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him”. It seems that these Salafi preachers who systematically grace us with inflammatory discourses about the Shia, after failing in their endeavours to convince us of the duty to worship kings and rulers and the revolutions against worshipers of Salafi preachers, found nothing but slogans to offer to the Muslim public opinion. Two days ago, I heard the phrase: “Support your Prophet by following his path”. This is of course a word of truth but it hides sinister intentions. These Salafis, like they’ve always accustomed us, are the epitome of humiliation.

On another front, Asma is angry at the Algerian government for failing to uphold the Constitution:

أناجزائرية حكومتي مبنية على دستور من ثاني بنود هدا الدستور الدين الاسلامي وحكومتي هي المدافعة عن الدستور الدي يمثلني و أنا اخترتها لتدافع عني فأين حكومتي ونار الغضب تلهب صدري اين حكومتي و قد ضربت في دستورها اين حكومتي و قد أخجلتني أمام خلق الله أنا أتبرأ من حكومتي فبأس الحكومة حكومتي أنا لاتمثلني حكومتي

I am Algerian. My government is based on a constitution whose second article declares that Islam is the religion of the State. My government should defend this constitution, which represents me and I chose this government to defend me, so where is this government when the fire of anger is burning within my chest? Where is this government when it’s been hit in its constitution? Where is this government which has embarrassed me in front of all Allah’s creatures. I disown this government, it is the worst government and it does not represent me.

Abdel Qader, from Adrar, sees in this a conspiracy to push Algerian people to revolt. He says:

هذه القضية مدورسة وهذا لنتفاضة الشعوب الاسلامية المتبقية علئ حكوماتها وخاصة الجزائر لان شعباها رفض تعبير با العنف والتغير من طرفا املاءات من طرف الخارج ولانه شعب ضاق المرة في العشرة السودا والحل هو مقاطعة البضائع المستوردة من كل الدول الامريكية والاوربية وخاصة فرنسا ومقاطعة السياسة والاعتماد على النفس……

This affair was well-planned and aimed to push the Muslim peoples who have not yet revolted against their governments to do so. In particular, Algeria, as its people refused change through violence and foreign dictates, and because its people have experienced the worst during the black decade. The solution is to boycott all American and European products, especially France and to boycott politics and rely only on ourselves.

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