On the “Muslim Riots” and More

by Patricia V. Davis 

  2012 Muslim Protests Niko Volonakis

None of us like to believe that we’re gullible or lazy, but when it comes to discerning what is reality and what is media and political spin, we are both. We so badly want to believe our chosen political party, our favourite newspaper or news program that we let ourselves be easily persuaded. And we’re so involved  with what’s happening in our own families and jobs and lives that we have no energy left to exert ourselves when we do begin to suspect that we might…just might… be being misled.

Take for example the so-called “Muslim riots” of which we’ve been hearing so much. The most recent reliable estimate of Muslims in the world is 1.57 billion. Using that number, Muslims represent about 22% of the world’s population. They’re the second largest religion in the world with only Christianity being larger, having 33% of the world’s population at a little over 2 billion.

Islam is growing about 2.9% per year, faster than the total world population which increases about 2.3% annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger percentage of people. In North America, the estimates of the number of Muslims vary widely from just over one million to over seven million. The disparity in number seems to be related to the  percentage of Muslim immigrants who  abandoned Islam when they arrived in North America, or who still consider themselves to be Muslim, yet don’t participate in religious activities at their mosque. But let’s assume for the sake of argument that the mean number between 1 and 7 million is a reasonable estimate of people who practice that religion in North America. That makes 4 million people in the US and Canada who are Muslim.

By now some who are reading this are feeling quite alarmed. And that’s because we’ve been being coached by our media and politicians to believe that all Muslims are terrorists.

Yes, we have.

But let’s look at this logically. With 33 percent of the world’s population as stated above, Christians could have a compelling affect on the world if they all decided to unite and begin terrorizing the rest of us. (Just look at the havoc they’ve managed to wreak over gay marriage, reproductive rights and so on.)  But not every Christian is like every other Christian ─ there are Christians who go to church every Sunday and Christians who attend church only for weddings and funerals. There are Mormons, Catholics, Protestants and Seventh Day Adventists. Each subgroup within the larger group labeled “Christian” is different from the other subgroups. And yet they are all Christians.

This is also true of Muslims. Muslims have been part of the world’s population for generations without creating the kind of anxiety their existence has created in the last dozen years. Now suddenly we need to be wary of all Muslims, suddenly we get jumpy whenever a particularly dark-haired person sits next to us on the plane. And this has been so ever since the terms “9/11” and “Al Qaeda” have been imprinted on us, ever since we’ve been hearing the names “Osama bin Laden” and “Mohammed”, eer since YouTube videos have caused riots and killings.  Or not.

What do I mean by “Or not?”

The above photo was taken in Athens, Greece. It’s of a protest over the YouTube video “Innocence of Muslims” a film short which is reported to have caused riots in Libya, Egypt and other parts of the world, not to mention the assassination of the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.  The photo looks violent and yet, if you look carefully, what you see are fleeing unarmed protesters being attacked by Greek riot police.

Here’s the account of what happened at this protest according to the photographer who took this photo:

“This protest had gone on for nearly 4 hours before any violence started taking place. Many of the Muslim demonstrators who’d organized the event kept trying to prevent a select hundred or so people amongst more than a thousand from throwing rocks at the police. From what I observed it seemed that the police had been instructed by the Greek government to allow the situation to escalate as much as possible so that the few rioters (as I said, about a hundred out of a thousand) could cause damage and fuel more anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment . The chaos that eventually ensued then justified the police making sweeping arrests of any immigrant in sight. The kids I saw getting arrested were all those who were simply without papers who were just attending the protest, while those who had smashed cars and shops were long gone. And the ones who had done the most damage had their faces covered so it was hard to tell if they were actually immigrants or Greeks.”

So according to this account, the Greek government was attempting to trick its citizens by allowing violence to escalate. What would be the purpose of such a scheme?

The answer lies in the economic crisis in which Greece currently finds itself and with a neo-fascist group called “Golden Dawn.” By pointing out the failures of the socialist government in the Euro zone crisis Golden Dawn is attempting to infiltrate parliment, and has already been partially successful. Allowing protests to get out of hand, then blaming immigrants for the violence gives the branch of politicians that want to overthrow the current government the excuse to institute martial law with the help of Golden Dawn. This is a very frightening prospect for Greece which fought long and hard to get itself out from under a dictatorship in the late 1960s and early70s.

When I first heard this theory it sounded much like paranoia. But shortly after this account was posted on Facebook by the photographer along with several photos, a disturbing video published by The British newspaper, The Guardian came out:

Notice the Pakistani man who is speaking fluent Greek? He’s been living in Greece as a productive working member of society for years, but is now considered a problematic immigrant by Golden Dawn.

But what about the violent protests we heard about that took place in Egypt? Once again social media paints us a different picture than mainstream news reports. As told to us from the ground in Egypt by American students studying there:

“There are no Muslim protests. There are just a bunch of hooligans using the video as an excuse to vandalize and loot.”

You mean like the Giants “fans” in San Francisco who were responsible for this damage?

And then there is this quote we obtained from Egyptian filmmaker, Taher Medhat, who wrote for HSR magazine during the Arab Spring protests in Tahrir Square:

“When it comes to the ‘Muslim riots’ it’s important to note how we non-participants feel about them. A parallel can be drawn between these events and the Salman Rushdie affair in 1989, or the infamous Dutch cartoons, but I think the absurdity of storming U.S. embassies so soon after the world saw Arabs in a positive light has made a good majority of the Arab people condemn the behaviour which they generally supported in those two previous cases. Our own struggle with suppression of ideas and speech has made us, I hope, slightly more able to take criticism and respond without force. Even in family gatherings where people would usually be quick to bring up religious defamation the topic has become more focused on how to deal with, or outright ignore, this kind of speech. The actions committed by the rioters are truly not representative of the vast majority of Muslims.”

Spoken like a true Arab terrorist.

So if we buy into the idea that the reports on the Muslim protests were greatly exaggerated as easily as we bought into the idea that they were not, we then have to ask ourselves for what purpose are these reports being exaggerated? Is the U.S government like the Greek government hoping to distract us from something else? If so, what? Perhaps it’s hoping that we’ll be so frightened of Muslims that we’ll eagerly take up the next administration’s suggestion that we must continue our drone attacks on Pakistan? Or are the powers that be planning a possible invasion of Iran to order to decrease the “Arab threat?”

This time, based on what happened with the “weapons of mass destruction” which never materialized in Iraq, and based on the toll the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq took not only on our economy but on our American soldiers, we should at least allow that swallowing wholesale what our Congress or media or administration want us to swallow would be gullible, indeed. So this time, let’s not be gullible. Let’s not be lazy. Let us, let all of us ─ together ─ not as separate political parties ─ question, debate and think. We could save so many lives.

Last 5 posts by Patricia V. Davis