Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Islam Versus The West: A Deadly Kultur Kampf?

As the protests sparked by the latest anti-Islam film has now sent 12 people to their deaths, will the Kultur Kampf between the Christian West and the Islamic world ever be resolved?

By: Ringo Bones

To everyone who worked with him in the rebuilding of the post Gaddafi Libya, Ambassador Christopher Stevens – the US Ambassador to Libya – seems to be the highest profile victim of the widespread protests caused by the uploading of an ant-Islam film to the internet that eventually caused offense to everyone in the Muslim world. Though Ambassador Stevens was friendly to the Libyans he was working with in facilitating to improve their country after 40 years of the Gaddafi dictatorship, many now wonder if Stevens is just one of the unfortunate bystanders in these current clash between Islam and the West.

This is not the first time that an “artistic” work created in the somewhat liberal West had offended the generally conservative sensibilities of the Islamic world. First of these that gained worldwide press attention was Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses – a work of literature that disparages the Prophet Muhammad that eventually made the then Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a Fatwa against the author. In our post 9/11 world, there was that controversial Prophet Mohammad caricature that was published by a Danish newspaper that sparked widespread anger and protest in the Islamic world a few years ago. And the latest one was a low-budget anti-Islam polemic style documentary that was made by an Egyptian born Coptic Christian living in the US who was a few years ago convicted of a real estate fraud and whose posting of the controversial video back in June 2012 supposedly violated the offending filmmaker’s parole.

The outrage caused by the offending anti-Islam film seems not going to die down anytime soon as the security arrangements of US and other Western embassies in Muslim majority countries around the world are beefed up in anticipation for protests that may go out of hand. Given that it can be very hard to separate religion and politics in the Islamic world, such incidences of a “Kultur Kampf” will continue to happen because Western style freedom of expression will never be compatible with the conservative sensibility that is part and parcel of being a devout Muslim in the Islamic world.

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