September 13th, 2012
11:23 AM ET

My Take: A deadly link between Islamic and anti-Islamic extremists

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

What should we make of the attacks on the U.S. consulates in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens?

It depends on who you mean by “we.”

From the perspective of those who stormed the embassies, taking down the American flag in Egypt and replacing it with a black flag reading, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger,” theirs was an act of justice on behalf of the One True Faith.

The Americans had it coming, according to this view, because Americans are on the wrong side in the clash of civilizations between the Judeo-Christian West and the Muslim world. And the creation of an anti-Islamic video (ironically entitled "Innocence of Muslims") by a producer thought to be an American provided the catalyst (or excuse) for the protests.

Why Muslims are sensitive about portraying the Prophet Mohammed

Most Americans operate by a different “we.” From our perspective, the assault was an unjust and cowardly attack on (among other things) the rule of law, the institution of diplomacy and the right of free speech.

Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abushagur gave voice to this perspective when he said on Twitter, “I condemn these barbaric attacks in the strongest possible terms. This is an attack on America, Libya and free people everywhere.”

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”

In a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005, later published as "This Is Water," novelist David Foster Wallace urged student to scrutinize the “natural, basic self-centeredness” that puts “me” at the center of the world.

This unconscious “default setting” fosters the sort of “blind certainty” that manifests as arrogant atheism and fundamentalism alike, Wallace said. And the point of education is to shake us out of that “default setting” - to begin to see things from the perspectives of others.

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Wallace focused in his speech on the individual “I.” But his critique can be applied as well to another “default setting” (this one more cultural than natural): our tendency to understand the world from the perspective of “we."

According to those who stormed the embassies, "Innocence of Muslims" was not made by an individual (whoever the shadowy "Sam Bacile" may - or may not - be). It was made by an American.

Moreover, according to this groupthink, Americans as a group are responsible for the sins of individual Americans, so it makes perfect sense to strike out at embassy personnel who issued a statement before the protests turned deadly, condemning "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims, as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

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Meanwhile, the shadowy figures who produced and distributed "Innocence of Muslims" are imprisoned in some groupthink of their own, which gathers all the world’s Muslims under the category of an evil Islamic empire. Their film doesn’t just depict Mohammed as a con man, philanderer, and pedophile. It portrays his followers as dupes.

Unfortunately, the events of recent days have done nothing to jar the alleged producer out of this default setting. When questioned about his film in the aftermath of the Libyan and Egyptian attacks, a man identifying himself as "Sam Bacile" reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that “Islam is a cancer.”

You don’t need a Kenyon college degree to see how this vicious cycle of provocation and violence is fueled, and you don’t need to be a moral relativist to see that it takes two sides to keep it running.

I am an American who is justly proud of the First Amendment and its protections of freedom of speech and religion. And I believe that killing your opponents in the name of God or nation is a far greater offense than offending them with an ignorant movie.

Nonetheless, the root problem on display here is in my view what Wallace denounced as “blind certainty.”

Our world is not divided first and foremost along religious or national lines, into Muslims and Christians and Hindus or Israelis and Americans and Egyptians.

Neither is it divided into secularists and people of faith - the New Atheists and partisans of old-time religion.

The real “red line” in the modern world divides the certain from the uncertain. And in the tragic events of recent days, those who produced and distributed this hateful movie stand on the same side of this line as the killers of innocents in Libya and Egypt.

Both groups are possessed by the unholy spirit of “blind certainty,” unacquainted with both the complexity and contradictions of life on Earth and the “cloud of unknowing” that hovers over every major religion.

The great religious thinkers in Judaism, Christianity and Islam always knew enough to know that they did not know everything.

They knew the difference between the eternal decrees of the God of Abraham and the all-too-flawed thoughts of ordinary people. They knew, in short, that they are not God, who alone is charged with creating and destroying the world and discriminating along the way between the real and the illusory.

The killers in Libya have forgotten that. So have the not-so-innocent producers and distributors of "Innocence of Islam."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

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Filed under: Belief • Egypt • Islam • Libya • Middle East • Violence

soundoff (395 Responses)
  1. Noitall

    ALL humans have the same bloody instincts for violence. This emanates automatically from the so-called "reptillian" complex in the lower brain, primarily, but can also be activated form damage to certain emotion processing structures in the mid-brain , such as the amygdala.. "Civilised" simply means that a society can , for the time being, suppress these instincts in the majority of its population, but a look at police blotters of ANY nation will cause any reasonable human to ponder on the knife edge on which humans who now have nuclear weapons exist. So It is HUMAN to kill and maim other humans for real/perceived offenses. Crusaders thanked Giod for being able to ride their hoerses knee-deep in the blood of the infidels in the Middle east et al. I guess those events set an indelible impression in the history books of said infidels. The ONLY hope of survival (and not human extinction) is the SLIM chance that reasonable men/women can outhink the reptile in their own brains and TRY to gather concensus for moderation, all round. Hitler had damage to the amygdala and other emeotion-processing areas of the midbrain due to physical abuse of his mother while pregnant with him, andsevere beatings as a child, once receiving 230 strokes with a HIPPO_HIDE whip. And so it goes on and on.

    September 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  2. Lol just lol

    Muslims get mad and often violent if you say Muhammed was a lying child-molesting bandit for the same reason Christians get mad and often violent if you say Jesus was a lying schizophrenic homosexual--
    deep in their hearts, THEY KNOW IT'S TRUE.
    lol just lol

    September 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Russ

    Prothero: "I'm certain you can't be certain."
    Hello, pot. Meet kettle.

    this producer: "you idiot, your Muslim faith is stupid. You should think like I do."
    Muslim extremists: "you idiot, your film is incendiary & deserves this level of reaction. You should think like we do."
    Prothero: "both of you idiots, I'm certain you should think like I do."

    If the problem is certainty, Prothero (& this PC false humility of certain "uncertainty") is equally the problem.
    But that's not the *real* problem, is it, Dr. Prothero?

    September 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  4. ScottCA

    9/11 was caused by the ignorance of all faith based religious people not just the Islamic. This killing in the name of religion is all part of the same delusional ignorance. The religious are all mentally lazy and too cowardly to face the truth that their existence will come to an end, and take responsibility for their own actions. All religious people are childish murderous cowards.

    September 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • PeterVN

      As the great blog quote says,

      Religion is for the ignorant, the stupid, the cowardly, and the gullible, and for those who would profit from them.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  5. QS

    Wouldn't another example of "blind certainty" be assuming that all people are under some inherent obligation to respect religion?

    September 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  6. TomVIO

    How bad it is to have a a part of the islamic world ruin the reputation of the muslim religion. I know many people who are muslim, including my wife and her family, and they are nothing like what these arab/african extremists show us to be.

    Muslims peole are same as anyone else (Jewish, Christian, Hindu), they respect other religions and non-religion beliefs. However, these terrorists are showing the world the wrong picture about islam and the muslim religion.

    The world is not fighting the muslims, the world is fighting the terrorists who happen to be muslim.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • TomVIO

      ...and by the way. I'm Jewish, and my mom is catholic...

      September 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • PeterVN

      I'm a giant unicorn.

      September 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  7. Reality

    Only for new members of this blog:

    Stevie P. is still clueless about the effects of religion in today's world. And to think he gets paid for being an expert/professor of said subject. One more time:

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers, Flight 93 and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror like those of 9/11//2012?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    September 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Seems like the fundiot Christian nutters don't have any room to talk. Seems like you all are upset that the fundiot Muslim nutters have the balls to obey their version of your god.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Reality

      And turning now to Christianity's New Testament to some of the few passasges that are considered to have been said by the historic Jesus:

      "The eight beat-itudes in Matthew 5:3–12 during the Sermon on the Mount are stated as Blessed/Happy/Fortunate are:

      the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:3)

      those who mourn: for they will be comforted. (5:4)

      the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (5:5)

      they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be satisfied. (5:6)

      the merciful: for they will be shown mercy. (5:7)

      the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (5:8)

      the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. (5:9)

      those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)"

      September 14, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  8. Snow

    "You don’t need a Kenyon college degree to see how this vicious cycle of provocation and violence is fueled, and you don’t need to be a moral relativist to see that it takes two sides to keep it running"

    That about sums it up. You should not light a match at a gas station and expect it not to blow up in your face. Here both sides are wrong. You can not make inflammatory statements and expect free speech to cover your a$$ all the time.

    Would you keep quiet if some unrelated person stands in front of your house and makes derogatory comments about the members of your family, your kids, etc (who are important to you)? or would you go over and sock him in his pie hole? I know I would, and that raises the question of who is guiltier.. The man who was provocative or the man who was violent? Therein lies the problem

    September 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • QS

      Violence should always be a last resort – if that guy was out in front of my house....I'd call the cops; no need to get physical with someone who is simply being....simple.

      Self defense is one thing, but a violent reaction to anything that does not directly threaten to physically harm, including speech, will always be the more guilty party.

      That said, it's a sign of immaturity as far as I'm concerned to try to intentionally provoke people and then try to hide from the consequences by citing freedom of speech...but it's long been a problem in this country that people seem to forget that the freedoms we enjoy come with responsibility as well.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Reality

      In the real world, you would call 911.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Timmy

      You are so right if someone insulted one of my kids I would go to another state and kill 3 random people who had nothing to do with it.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  9. Yo

    If they don't like it,don't watch it? In reality,the film does NOTHING to their faith between Allah and them.Hey atheists,they usually act in large numbers because they are too afraid to voice their own opinions.Blame religion but you also are blind.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  10. A Muslim

    The Quran doesn't direct muslims to kill non-muslims. References in the Quran to attacking non-muslims were referring to ordering the Prophet to fight back against the attacks and persecution by the pagan arabs whom had the stated intent to kill all muslims. The Quran was reveald to the prophet in stages, when muslims were being attacked then the direction to fight the non-believers was stated to him. There is also direction that muslims should not be an aggressor and that if the other side stops fighting you, you are to stop fighting them. The Quran is meant to be taken as a reference to how life was dealt with at that time and try to apply it to what ever time the reader is in. Individual muslims or groups that attack others, in their minds, believe that they are responding to an attack or ongoing attack, i.e. occupation of palestine, iraq, etc. Are there instances in history where the initial aggressor was clearly muslim, I would'nt be surprised, but that's because they're human beings, not because they're muslim.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Reality

      o On the koranic passages and world domination:
      "Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

      Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

      Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

      Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

      Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like

      a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

      In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

      Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

      Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

      A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

      Don Richardson

      September 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the new members of this blog:

      As the koranic/mosque driven acts of terror and horror continue:

      The Muslim Conquest of India – 11th to 18th century

      ■"The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      and the 19 million killed in the Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C by Muslims.

      and more recently

      1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

      1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

      2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

      3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US troops killed in action, 3,480 and 928 in non combat roles. 102,522 – 112,049 Iraqi civilians killed as of 9/16/2011/, mostly due to suicide bombers, land mines and bombs of various types, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/ and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/casualty.pdf

      4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

      5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

      6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

      7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

      8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

      9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

      10) – Afghanistan: US troops 1,385 killed in action, 273 killed in non-combat situations as of 09/15/2011. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror

      11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

      12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

      13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,

      14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations.

      15 The daily suicide and/or roadside and/or mosque bombings in the terror world of Islam.

      16) Bombs sent from Yemen by followers of the koran which fortunately were discovered before the bombs were detonated.

      17) The killing of 58 Christians in a Catholic church in one of the latest acts of horror and terror in Iraq.

      18) Moscow airport suicide bombing: 35 dead, 130 injured. January 25, 2011.

      19) A Pakistani minister, who had said he was getting death threats because of his stance against the country's controversial blasphemy law, was shot and killed Wednesday, 3/2/2011

      20) two American troops killed in Germany by a recently radicalized Muslim, 3/3/2011

      21) the kidnapping and apparent killing of a follower of Zoraster in the dark world of Islamic Pakistan.

      22) Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN 3/30/2011) - Hena Akhter's last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl. Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public. Hena dropped after 70 and died a week later.

      23) "October 4, 2011, 100 die as a truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of compound housing several government ministries on a busy Mogadishu street. It was the deadliest single bombing carried out by the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group in Somalia since their insurgency began. "
      o 24) Mon Jun 4, 2012 10:18am EDT
      BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-packed car outside a Shi'ite Muslim office in central Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 26 people and wounding more than 190 in an attack bearing the hallmarks of Iraq's al Qaeda affiliate.
      The bombing on a Shi'ite religious office comes at a sensitive time, with the country's fractious Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs locked in a crisis that threatens to unravel their power-sharing deal and spill into sectarian tensions."

      25) BURGAS, Bulgaria | Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:27am EDT
      (Reuters) – A suicide bomber carried out an attack that killed seven people in a bus transporting Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the interior minister said on Thursday, and Israel said Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants were to blame.

      26 ) September 12, 2012
      Envoy to Libya dies in rocket blast

      September 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  11. Religion is psychosis

    I think a smart bomb or three into the gathering places for these nutball extremists would do the trick nicely.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  12. PRISM 1234

    There is much more to rise of islamism in times we're living in then what meets the eye!
    They are the scourge of God on ungodly Western nations, which have become god to themselves....arrogant , wise in their own eyes, given over to all sorts of ungodliness, not regarding to basic laws given to them by God, by which He instructed them how to live and keep their societies from being swallowed in darkness....
    He shone His light on them, giving them knowledge to know the difference between right and wrong, but they spurned His commandments and exalted themselves in futility of their own minds, throwing Him out of their midst. Yeah, one day with God is as thousand years, and thousand years as one day, so the rottenness can be hidden for a long time... But whatsoever man/nation sows, he/it will also reap!
    God will turn those who reject Him to the 'mercies' of their enemies, look for the pattern of His dealings with His people of old, Israel, how He dealt with them. And who are we that we would escape His judgment if we turn away... who can withstand the judgments of the LORD?
    I know that things written here are not what peopel want to hear, but it is nevertheless the truth. We need to stop cuddling ourselves an minimizing the condition and shape in which our western societies have allowed themselves to sink into!

    September 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • .

      It's a Christian Taliban....Run!

      September 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Primewonk

      They worship the same god you do Prissy.

      It's like this – You hate your cousins, because you think their grandfather is evil. Your cousins hate you because they think your grandfather is evil. And none of you are smart enough to understand it's the same grandfather!

      September 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      You can spew your insults at those who don't sugarcoat the truth, and deny it all you want, but it won't change what it is! History proves itself over and over!

      September 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • QS

      Labeling your own opinion or belief as "truth" is what people don't want to hear anymore.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Prissy – the "truth" is that fundamentalist nutters – of any stripe are simply dangerous thugs.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Wonk, say, you don't see yourself as a fundamentalist nutter of your own stripe? Well, some hide their stripes, but are still the same! Holocaust is the proof!

      September 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • *facepalm*


      Hitler was a Catholic, genius.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • PRISM 1234


      *Hitler was an EVIL GENIUS
      *He was catholic only by association.
      *He was NOT a Christian, he was deeply in occult. He used The Roman Catholic church to "ride it" for his own political purposes.
      Anything else you may claim, has no 'leg to stand on'!

      September 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • *facepalm*


      Doesn't your book tell you that lying is a sin? I challenge you to provide any credible reference supporting your bogus and false claims.

      September 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      *face*, you've provided none for yours, why should I?
      www. is full of them if you care to know!

      September 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  13. Roxana

    Moral equivalency strikes again!

    Apparently making a movie against Islam is equivalent to murder in Liberal eyes. Why am I so unsurprised.

    Of course only the ignorant believe these 9/11 attacks had anything to do with an obscure movie.

    September 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  14. Bill T

    My god can beat up your god! Why were these people killed, over a myth based belieft system? Really? This makes sense to someone?

    September 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  15. derp

    Congratulations muslims!

    You have the dubious distinction of being the only group of crazies that scare me more than christians.

    Well done!

    September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  16. Rufus T. Firefly

    I don't always find myself on the same page as Prothero, but his point is well taken. Those who hold all Muslims responsible for the acts of these barbarians are following the same logic as these barbarians that hold all Americans responsible for the viewpoints of the filmmakers. That said, I find it much more acceptable to express opinion through a campy, imbecilic film than through arson and murder. Those aspects are not comparable.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Who's holding ALL Muslims responsible? I think that the prophet is responsible. Islam is responsible.

      September 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  17. HINDU




    September 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      SUCK MUHAMMED'S 8==> OR HAVE AISH'S (__!!__) but stay away from my MAMA YOU KAFEER!!!!!!!

      September 14, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  18. WOT

    When we, Americans get our own house in order, then and only then should , we try to tell other how to live! Leave those people alone: as some people you can not help. The whole world is angry with America because of envy. MYOB!

    September 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Invaded countries seldom envy their conquerors.

      September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • derp

      When did we invade Egypt?

      September 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      30 years of US military and economic intervention has violated Egypt's popular sovereignty and locked the country in a web of debt.
      US-backed military, police and state security forces enabled the most palpable forms of state violence practiced throughout the Mubarak era, some of which continues today. This includes violent attacks on protesters, unlawful detention of activists, and use of torture.
      structural violence – which impacts the lives of millions of Egyptian citizens today, is perpetrated by a whole range of domestic and international actors, including state inst.itutions, private corporations, financial inst.itutions and foreign governments, most importantly the United States and its Gulf allies.
      With political and economic support of the US government, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's regime established a pervasive and omnipresent state security apparatus to control and suppress opposition to the government and its foreign and domestic policies. Although Mubarak has been deposed, it is clear that his repressive security apparatuses continue to maintain significant influence over the government, the economy and civil society. Today's military regime, led by the SCAF and various state security inst.itutions associated with the Interior Ministry, serves as a counterrevolutionary force bent on maintaining the very state structures against which the Egyptian people revolted in early 2011.

      September 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  19. Paul Nay

    Prothero's comments are the sanest I have yet seen on this whole miserable business. (That of course means they echo my own opinions.) As a retired educator I hope at least a few people treat this as an opportunity for learning, meaning weakening the hold of "blind certainty" on their thought processes. There are lots of books one could recommend – assuming anyone still reads! – but two that occur to me are "Doubt: A History" by Jennifer Hecht, and "The Open and Closed Mind" by Milton Rokeach.
    I seem to be treating you folks as students. That is not meant to be an insult.
    Regarding those behind "Innocence of Islam": their opus has resulted in destruction of a consulate and murder of (at present count) four Americans including an ambassador. If they had been El-Quaida agents could they have accomplished more for that cause?
    As for all the anti-Islam folks reading this, here's a little assignment: look up the meaning and significance in Islam of the phrase "b-ismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīmi". (Hint: Google on the phrase "merciful and compassionate".) I'd ask Muslims who excuse, or eagerly participate in, violence against whomever they define as unbelievers to think hard about that phrase also – if any are reading this.

    September 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Joe800

      ...so youre saying 'those ideas which offend me must be suppressed'?...what did you teach?...dog obedience?...how about this then, all religion offends me therefore, all religion must be suppressed?....or the color of your skin offends me, you must be suppressed....really?...an educator?

      September 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Outrageous nonsense!

      September 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  20. sana

    This is so much more than religion. I think our presence in their country for more than 60 years is turning back. The countries themselves can't get involved in war but if u cover it up in the name if religion than u get ur revenge but still there is no further damage. Why are we still in these countries to enrich their lives or protect our oil and other wealth?? they don't like us interfering with their freedom and religion just as much we hate them violating our freedom of speech

    September 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • ME II

      "I think our presence in their country for more than 60 years is turning back."
      Which country? I thought we were talking about Libya and Egypt primarily. Does the US have a presence there?

      September 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.