Between seven and ten thousand people decided to object to the clips of what is said to be a film (of which there is nothing to prove its existence)—repugnant clips, in their absurdity and ridiculousness—and to do so by attacking Western embassies. The armed among them stormed the American consulate in Benghazi and killed who they killed, just as dozens stormed the buildings of American diplomatic missions in Yemen, Tunisia, and Sudan, and stole “ in defense of the dignity of the Messenger of Allah” a number of computers, TV screens, printers, telephones, and stationary—anything considered valuable—then set fire to what could not be carried.
Likewise, those who “triumphed” for the Prophet altogether resembled in their barbarity those idiotic actors running furiously in the snippets of the alleged film, as if they were their colleagues in the moronic “movie”—though this time with real blood, thick smoke, and with the tangible spoils of conquest.
It’s possible for one to be content with this summary of what happened this past week, with much repetition of the same images from the protests against the Danish caricatures in late 2005. It’s also possible to say that the venting of suppressed frustrations, by those marginal groups that used to be manipulated by security apparatuses, is always searching for a pretext, sometimes provided by a display of racism in Western countries. It’s also possible to consider what occurred to be an instinctual expression of anger from unemployed young men, some of whom had likely failed to obtain visas from the same embassies they ransacked.
However, that does not seem to be enough this time. There is something political, beyond all of this, something that resembles the attempts to launch “a counter-revolution”: A revolution against the revolutions of the Arab Spring and what they represent politically, in terms of restoring the relationship between time and place, via the rotation of power electorally and the right to peaceful demonstrations and voicing of objections in public spaces on the one hand, and what is expressed culturally both within the Arab world (and beyond) of the yearning of millions of citizens for a return to politics, in terms of its implications for their daily lives, for their rights, that are universal, on the other hand.
In this sense, what the counter-revolution wants to assert is a rupture between Arabs/Muslims and all other peoples of the world, using scenes of violence to confirm difference. To say the killings and beatings are “for the dignity of the Prophet” captures only one of its aspects. Things have gone in a way most pleasing to racists and supporters of authoritarianism (Western and Eastern alike), who have not delayed to seize the opportunity and promote their message: “Since repression was lifted in Arab countries, the fundamentalists have spread instability and incited their violence.”
But luckily, the “counter-revolution” has remained meager, and remains so far, despite the density of its images and the intensity of its heinousness. Fortunately as well, this time, the voices of many individuals and groups (the 30.000 demonstrators in Benghazi yesterday are only one proof) have been increasingly raised against the violence, and so it seems that the counter-revolutions and their followers will not be allowed much more “spoils”…
Translated by Jeff Reger