DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Protests in Egypt and Libya may not have been tied to a controversial movie after all. U.S. intelligence officials think they may have been planned for some time, especially the attack in Libya that took the life of the U.S. ambassador there.
How should Americans sort through all of this to decide what it means? We asked for guidance from the political science department at U-T Arlington. Associate Professor Brent Sasley suggests we understand that America doesn’t have the influence there it once had.
“In some ways it’s not surprising,” Sasley says of the attacks. “You should take that America’s moment in the Middle East is changing. That things are never going to be the same.”
He believes incidents like this on a smaller scale have been brewing a long time, especially among the Salafist sect of ultra-conservative Muslims. “And we’ve had signs that this kind of widepread dissatisfaction has been there for this whole time.”
He agrees with U-S officials, that while the Egyptian protest may have used the film to justify a pre-planned protest, the killings in Libya were much more sinister and that al-Qaede may have played a role.
According to Sasley, “It looks like new evidence is coming out that the protests and riots in Libya are not due to the video and the movie, but that the movie was used as a cover. These protests were pre-planned, and there may even have been a pre-planned attack on the consulate.”
Meantime Mike Ghouse, local spokesman of the World Muslim Congress think tank, cautions not to condemn the Muslim faith, which he claims is being misused by 1% of its followers. “Right now, the 1% in Islam are very loud, very vociferous, very violent; it is a shameful thing,” according to Ghouse.
He condemns the killings and wants the attackers brought to justice, pointing to a verse in the Koran which says killing one person is like killing the whole of humanity.
“But what these criminals do is wrong. And we, as a society need to not buy their argument that, ‘I’m doing it for Allah, I’m doing it for Mohammad,’ No! They’re not doing it for them, they’re getting their frustration out and using this excuse. We shouldn’t buy that, we should say, ‘You are a damn criminal.’”
A Muslim himself, he believes even some religious leaders have it all wrong. “There are idiots out there calling themselves Imams that are issuing Fatwahs…they’re wrong, dead wrong. Read to me…where do you find this violence in the Koran? If it is not in the Koran, where are you coming from?”
Ghouse makes this charge to anyone using his holy book to promote violence. “You can use any excuse but that is not what your religion teaches; show me in the Koran that it tells me you can do what you’re doing. If we take that approach we can find many solutions.”