Anger in the Middle East – More than Just a Video

Starting on September 11th this year, protests erupted in front of U.S. embassies all over the Middle East, spreading to North Africa, and as far away as Pakistan, Indonesia, and the immigrant communities in Europe. These protesters around the world have gathered to express their anger at the target which makes the most sense to them – the United States.

The protests began after the release of a video on Youtube called “The Innocence of Muslims”. This video was a badly made 14-minute film using amateur actors. The film was designed to insult every aspect of the Muslim religion, portraying the prophet Muhammad in a vulgar way. The film was produced in the U.S. by a right-wing Christian of Egyptian origin, supported by money and publicity from right-wing U.S. evangelical groups.

This video became a spark which enraged people worldwide. In Cairo, groups of protesters climbed the U.S. embassy walls and tore down the American flag. Armed groups took advantage of the protests to launch attacks. In Libya, an attack on the U.S. embassy resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Since these initial demonstrations, there have been continued protests in Egypt and Libya, and the anger has spread to Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, India, Pakistan and other countries. The U.S. has been forced by this outpouring of anger to withdraw its personnel from Sudan and Tunisia.

The politicians and news media focus everything on the insulting video. They tell us that the story begins and ends with an insult to the deeply held religious beliefs of people in the Muslim world. But would thousands of people protest, demonstrate, and even attack U.S. embassies just because of an amateur video made by some racist idiot in the U.S.?

The politicians and media have also pointed out that the protests and attacks on American personnel have involved organizations in the Middle East claiming to be Al-Qaeda or other Islamic political groups. Certainly the attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens was organized by such a group.

But what the politicians and the media do not want to say is that there is more to this story than religion and the actions of armed groups. The anger we’ve seen directed at U.S. embassies comes from the history of violence and imperial domination that the U.S. has forced on many countries in the world.

For decades the U.S. has used its economic and military power to dominate the Middle East. The U.S. has supported Israel with an average of two billion dollars per year in economic and military aid. Israel has bombed and invaded almost all of the surrounding countries in the last 60 years.

The U.S. has also supported the brutal regime of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years. His police would kidnap, torture and brutalize people using equipment labeled “Made in the U.S.A”.

And since September 11th, 2001, the U.S. has invaded two countries in the region – Afghanistan and Iraq. These invasions have resulted in over two million deaths, and the absolute destruction of the infrastructure of these societies. And it’s not just a story of the Middle East. The United States has been deeply involved in supporting brutal dictatorships in countries like Pakistan and Indonesia.

How many thousands of children died in violence which the U.S. had a hand in? How many people lost wives, mothers, brothers, or fathers? In the last month, thousands and thousands of people came out to demonstrate anger against the U.S. in over two dozen countries around the world. This isn’t just about some stupid video. This anger is against the U.S. and the violence it commits all over the world.