- In many Muslim countries, the Friday prayer isin danger of turning into a day
of violence. The
scandal caused by the US youtube film and Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in
France, is likely to become an excuse for extremists to exploit. Many
diplomatic missions of the United States and France were closed for fear of
attacks similar to those that led to the death the U.S. ambassador to Libya,
Chris Stevens. So far,
30 people have lost their lives because of the blasphemous film.
In Pakistan, the government has declared today a "Day of love for the Prophet" and called for peaceful demonstrations. Parades have developed in Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, Nowshera, Jacobabad and other cities. But already there are reports of violence against some government buildings in Nowshera. Yesterday in Islamabad a police station was set on fire and there were 50 wounded. Today, warehouses, shops and markets are closed and in 15 cities, the government has blocked the use of mobile phones.
So far there has been no violence in Malaysia and Indonesia, but the U.S. embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta were closed.
Yesterday, there were demonstrations in Kabul (Afghanistan) and Tehran. In Zaria (northern Nigeria), thousands of Muslims demonstrated and burned Israeli and American flags.
Many governments are trying to curb the spread of the 15 minute film posted on Youtube. Pakistan and Sudan have blocked access to the film. Google (which owns YouTube), for its part has restricted access to the film in Egypt, Libya, Malaysia and Indonesia.
As the climate of tension grows, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told reporters that "freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right and a privilege, should not be misused to commit a outrageous and shameful act," such as the anti-Islam film.
Many nations are now pushing for a UN directive prohibiting offense to the religious symbols of Islam and all religions. In Lebanon, the proposal is supported by the March 14 movement (Christians and Sunnis) and the March 8 coalition (Christians, Hezbollah and Druze), as well as a group of Greek-orthodox politicians. The Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai suggests a UN law against the defamation of religions, for the preservation of harmony between religions.
A similar question has been expressed by various Islamic organizations. Some Anglican bishops of North Africa have written an open letter to Ban Ki-moon asking for international guidelines that "outlaw the intentional deliberate insult and defamation of people (like the prophets), symbols, texts and expressions of faith that are considered sacred by believers. "