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Anti-Islam film: Christian and Islamic fundamentalists leaning on each

A cheap, crude, anti-Islamic film entitled The Innocence of Muslims, produced and promoted by reactionary Christian fundamentalists in the United States

Anti-Islam film: Christian and Islamic fundamentalists leaning on each

Written by Fred Weston Wednesday, 19 September 2012

*A cheap, crude, anti-Islamic film entitled The Innocence of
Muslims,produced and promoted by reactionary Christian fundamentalists
in the
United States and posted on the internet in July, has led to demonstrations
in many countries around the world, including attacks on US embassies and
in the case of Libya to the killing of four US diplomats at the US
Consulate in Benghazi. We look into why all this is happening?*

According to reports, the film originally had the title *Desert Warriors* and was not
about Muhammad at all. Actors who had taken part in the film have claimed
they were unaware of the fact that the film was about Muhammad, and that
the storyline which transformed the film into the format in which it
eventually appeared on the internet was the result of dubbing. The
scripting was deliberately designed to be insulting to Muslims.

Initially it was not even clear who was behind the film. The story being
spread around the internet was that a certain "Sam Bacile" had made the
film with finance provided "by over 100 Jewish donors". The intention was
clear: to give the impression that the film was an American/Jewish
production and to provoke a backlash among Muslims around the world.

Later the truth was revealed that Sam Bacile did not exist and that the
real maker of the film was a convicted fraudster, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula,
a Coptic Egyptian who has links to extreme right-wing evangelical
associates in the USA, who also helped in the shooting of the film. Among
these there was a certain Steve Klein, an ex-Marine who has been involved
in training militiamen in California churches. Among his activities are
also protests against abortion clinics, mosques in the United States and
even against* *Mormon temples.

The "film" was only screened once in Los Angeles, with a very small
attendance. The notorious Florida-based "pastor" Terry Jones - who last
year hit the headlines when he publicly burnt the Koran - tried to boost
the film's fortunes but with no success. In July the makers of the film
posted it on You Tube, but hardly anyone noticed it. At this point that
could well have been the end of the story and the film would have joined
the many others like it and been forgotten.

Clearly not happy at the lack of interest in their film, the makers then
had it dubbed into Arabic and placed this version also on YouTube. Even
then, in spite of the valiant efforts of these reactionary, right-wing
bigots, the film was failing to make any impact.

Then enters the scene a certain Sheikh Khaled Abdallah. Who is Abdallah? He
is an Egyptian TV personality who runs a programme on the Islamist
satellite-TV station al-Nas. He has been compared to America's Glenn Beck
who has run TV and radio shows that supposedly have defended "traditional
American" and Christian fundamentalist values. Abdallah is no friend of the
"Arab Spring" and according to some reports he is quoted as having
described the courageous Egyptian youth that were the main protagonists of
the Egyptian revolution that overthrew Mubarak, as "worthless kids". And
just like Glenn Beckin the USA, he is intent on fomenting conflict between
Christians and Muslims.

Having discovered the film, *The Innocence of Muslims, *on September 8, he
broadcast an offensive clip from it in which the actor playing Muhammad
calls a donkey "the first Muslim animal." It was after this that the whole
thing snowballed. Abdallah clearly understands the old Roman method of
"Divide and Rule". He pays particular attention to fomenting hatred for the
Egyptian Coptic Christians, who make up about ten per cent of the

Let us recall that during the most intense and massive mobilisations
against the Mubarak regime, ordinary working Copts and Muslims in Egypt
joined hands in a united struggle. In this we saw the potential for working
class unity, which was expressed on more than one occasion. After Mubarak
fell, the old regime in the clothes of the military organised provocations
aimed at breaking the unity that had been forged in the revolution, by
organising tit-for-tat attacks between Christians and Muslims. Abdallah's
TV show is part of this ongoing attempt to divide the workers and youth of
Egypt along religious lines. He concentrates much of his attention on
Egypt's Coptic Christians.

The broadcasting of the infamous clip on Abdallah's show is what attracted
a wide viewing, especially among the Salafists, the Islamic fundamentalist
movement that is the second largest grouping in the Egyptian parliament. Up
until then small groups of organised Salafists had been trying to build up
a protest movement with regular rallies outside the US embassy in Cairo,
but with little success. Then Abdallah came to their rescue, whipping up
anti-American feelings with the aid of the now infamous film.

The protest in Cairo was followed by the events in Benghazi where four US
diplomats were killed, and from there the protest spread to Bangladesh,
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco, Indonesia and other countries. The
media in the West then picked up on this to paint a picture of an "Islamic
world" dominated by reactionary, extremist fundamentalists.

The truth is that the numbers actually taking part in the protests were
quite small. In Tehran for example, no more than 500 took part in protests
chanting "Death to America"; in Lebanon no more than 200 people took to the
streets; in Jerusalem around 300 protested; in Morocco the reports indicate
that "hundreds of Salafists burned US flags". The biggest reported
demonstration was in Jordan, where it was claimed 2000 turned out.
According to Al Jazeera the total number of people across the whole of the
Middle East and beyond that came out to protest last Friday after prayers
was around 5,000. This is in no way a "mass movement" of reaction. It is in
fact very small and is actually being hyped up by the world media to look
far bigger than it really is.

If we compare these numbers to those participating in what has become known
as the "Arab Spring", i.e. the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and in
other countries, then we get a much truer picture of the real balance of
forces on the ground. And while much media coverage is given to the
protests organised by the fundamentalists, very little is said for example
of the protests in Libya of ordinary people coming out against the

However, having said that, one also has to register the fact that there is
a genuine anti-imperialist mood among the masses in the Middle East and
beyond. Let us not forget that US imperialism for decades backed,
financially and militarily all those rotten regimes that for years
oppressed ordinary working people. To this day they are still backing
regimes such as the one in Saudi Arabia. They conveniently turned a blind
eye when Saudi military forces went into Bahrain to suppress the revolution
there. They have been manoeuvring behind the scenes to sow confusion among
the masses and to promote reactionary forces, such as the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt and in other countries. The US ruling class is no
friend of the working masses of the Middle East.

All this also explains why anti-American sentiments are so easily promoted
by reactionary individuals such as Sheikh Khaled Abdallah. Unfortunately, a
healthy anti-imperialism is then diverted along reactionary lines. This is
possible because there is no mass workers' party in Egypt that is capable
of uniting the working masses on class issues. In such a vacuum the
reactionary elements find room to manoeuvre.

Hiding behind their false anti-imperialist demagogy, the fundamentalists
promote their own reactionary agenda. Let us not forget that Islamic
fundamentalism has been promoted, financed and exploited by US imperialism
many times in the past when it suited its interests. When the US were
trying to overthrow the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan - a product of the
1978 Saur Revolution - they had no qualms about supporting some of the most
reactionary, backward elements within the country, that were to become
known as the Taliban.

The fact is that the Islamic fundamentalists exploit what is a genuine
anti-imperialist feeling among the masses, but they do so to divert it
along completely reactionary lines. Long ago, Lenin could see this danger.
In the *Draft Theses on National and Colonial Questions for The Second
Congress of The Communist International*, he wrote the following:

"With regard to the more backward states and nations, in which feudal or
patriarchal and patriarchal-peasant relations predominate, it is
particularly important to bear in mind:

"first, that all Communist parties must assist the bourgeois-democratic
liberation movement in these countries, and that the duty of rendering the
most active assistance rests primarily with the workers of the country the
backward nation is colonially or financially dependent on;

"second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential
reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries;

"third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to
combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism
with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners,
mullahs, etc."

Today, unfortunately, there are people on the left who have forgotten - or
have never understood - the basic position of Marxism in relation to the
reactionary Islamic clergy. It is clear that the most reactionary elements
within the Islamic clergy have played an important role in attempting to
whip up a hysterical reaction, using this latest provocation on the part of
extreme right-wing reactionary Christian fundamentalists in the United
States. This clergy is not genuinely anti-imperialist, but uses the real
anger of the masses to push forward its own agenda, one which is designed
to undermine the revolutions that have erupted in the Middle East and North

According to reports from Egypt, the organizers of these protests have been
mainly reactionary Salafist groups. However, the Muslim Brotherhood, for
fear of being outflanked by the Salafists, have also called for
demonstrations. Both the Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood are working
to undermine the Egyptian revolution, and what better way to achieve that
than by dividing the workers of Egypt along religious lines. The lack of
any significant change in the lives of ordinary workers and youth in Egypt
since the fall of Mubarak has also led to some tiredness and
disillusionment among the masses who took part in the revolution. In such
circumstances protests of a few hundred, or at most a few thousand, of the
kind we are witnessing in these past few days can appear far more important
than they really are. What they are trying to do is to to cut across class
struggle in the country, defeat the workers and push the country to the
right. The task of Marxists is to expose all this and emphasise the need
for workers' unity.

What has to be highlighted is that the Christian fundamentalists, and the
reactionary right wing in general, in the United States and the Islamic
fundamentalists in those countries where Islam is the dominant religion
actually lean on each other and use each other. The provocations, such as
this recent one, organised by reactionaries in the USA provide
fundamentalists in countries like Egypt with ammunition with which to whip
up the anti-US sentiment. This reaction in turn is used by the right-wing
Christian fundamentalists in the USA to portray a picture of an
American-hating "Muslim world". Both aim to divide workers; both are
working against the Arab revolution; both are enemies of workers in all

In moments like these it is easy to be taken in by all this media hype. Its
purpose is to distract attention from what is really going on. The crisis
of world capitalism expressed itself in the Arab world with the Tunisian
and then the Egyptian revolutions. These inspired the workers and youth of
the world. In the United States during mass protests such as that in
Wisconsin in early 2011 we saw how the American workers identified with the
mass protests of the Egyptian workers. There was even the slogan "Fight
like an Egyptian". Later the mass #Occupy movement in the United States
inspired workers and youth around the globe, including in the Arab world.

In spite of all their crude attempts, the reactionary right-wing in the USA
and their counterparts in the Arab world will not succeed in their
manoeuvres. The crisis of capitalism is relentless. Life for working people
in all countries is becoming ever more unbearable. And everywhere the class
struggle keeps surfacing. We saw it in Cairo, we saw it in Wisconsin, then
New York, then in Athens. At present we are seeing it in a big way in Spain
and Portugal. It is spreading everywhere.

*That is why we can expect more crude attempts to whip up national
chauvinist and religious sentiments. But whatever they come up with, they
cannot hide the fact that the capitalist system globally has failed.
Because it is taking away from workers everywhere all the hard fought for
gains of the past, this system is doomed. Class struggle on a global scale
is what is being prepared, and that is what terrifies the ruling classes of
all countries. The final words of the Communist Manifesto, "The
proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to
win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite!" have never rung truer.*

*See also:*

- *Islamic world up in arms - Sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind
< http://www.marxist.com/islamic-cartoons-mohammed-west070206.htm>**, by
Maarten Vanheuverswyn, February 7, 2006*
- *Islam and America... Friends or
Foes?< http://www.marxist.com/islam-america-friends-foes.htm>
** by Lal Khan, May 11, 2004*