CAIRO - The US-made film defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and the angry Muslim protests to the insult reflect the deep cultural divide between the West and the Muslim world.
We never insult any prophet not Moses, not Jesus so why can't we demand that Muhammad be respected? Khaled Ali, a 39-year-old textile worker and one of the protesters at the American embassy in Cairo, told The New York Times on Monday, September 17.
Holding a handwritten sign in English that read Shut Up America. Obama is the president, so he should have to apologize, Ali was among hundreds of angry Egyptians protesting the film.
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Egyptians were the first to take to the streets to protest the film that portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
Following suit, thousands of Muslims around the world took to the streets to protest the insulting material and demand an apology.
Despite condemning the film as repulsive, the US government has not apologized for the insulting movie, defending the Americans' right to free speech.
We want these countries to understand that they need to take into consideration the people, and not just the governments, said Ismail Mohamed, 42, a religious scholar who once was an imam in Germany.
We don't think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression. We think it is an offense against our rights.
The West has to understand the ideology of the people.
Youssef Sidhom, the editor of the Coptic Christian newspaper Watani, echoes a similar view.
Comparing to the Western reaction to insults to sanctivites, he referred to Egypt's move to ban the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, which was seen as an affront to aspects of traditional Christianity.
This reaction is expected, Sidhom said of the protests to the film, and if it had stayed peaceful I would have said I supported it and understood.
Analysts say the outrage against the video had built up over a long period of insults of Muslims and their sanctities.
This is not the first time that Muslim beliefs are being insulted or Muslims humiliated, Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo, told The New York Times.
He said it was easy to see why the protesters focused their anger on the United States government.
The United States has earned the ire of Muslims after it invaded Iraq on claims of massing weapons of mass destruction, a claim never proved true.
Images of abusing prisoners in Iraq have badly tarnished the image of the US in the Muslim world and fuelled anti-America sentiments around the world.
A more recent burning or desecrations of the noble Qur'an by troops in Afghanistan and a pastor in Florida and detentions without trial at Guantanamo Bay added to the Muslim anger.
Prominent Muslim intellectuals were also denied US visas where political campaigns against the specter of Islamic Shari`ah inside the United States enflamed Islamophobia.
There is a war going on here, Shahin said.
This was a straw, if you will, that broke the camel's back.
The message here is we don't care about your beliefs that because of our freedom of expression we can demean them and degrade them any time, and we do not care about your feelings.
Yet, some Muslim commentators regret the violence which overshadowed the underlying argument against the offensive video.
Our performance came out like that of a failed lawyer in a no-lose case, Wael Kandil, an editor of the newspaper Sharouq, wrote in a column on Sunday.
We served our opponents something that made them drop the main issue and take us to the margins this is what we accomplished with our bad performance.
Mohamed Sabry, 29, a sculptor and art teacher at a downtown cafe, agrees.To see the Islamic world in this condition of underdevelopment, This is a bigger insult to the prophet.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net