|Still from the film|
Right now, the army has been called in to quell the protests in Pakistan. What? Over a “stupid” film? Wait! Let us not ignore that this is a country that has had to suffer from the extremism of the Taliban and drone attacks. Most of those killed every day are Pakistanis.
Yet, what do you think is happening? It is the citizens of the country who are damning the mayhem. An announcement was made that there would be protests. The government did not plan for it. These are anti-US protests. What does this say? That these people are not much concerned about a film; this is a cumulative reaction. I am not discussing the merits of such an attitude. But. what about the attitude that implies, “Look at those Muslims, they cannot leave in peace”? Certainly, there is much disaffection in many Islamic countries.
They are fighting their own battles, trying to bring about change within, overthrowing their own dictators, which they have a right to do. It just becomes worse when outsiders come in or are called in. Did not America fight a civil war? Was not Europe fractured into so many pieces?
When I write, I refuse to take a middle path. The ifs and buts don’t work. Sitting on the fence, the iron can enter the soul and render it numb. I shall skip the mandatory, “Of course, whatever the reason, such protests are wrong”. How many of these people sitting in cosy comfort said the same when their people were being killed in airstrikes?
Oh, those were tribals, the unkempt hordes.
Today, when the protests reached the posh Serena Hotel in Islamabad, there was much concern. One person even said, “I am trapped in the hotel, but at least it is a safe prison”. It is disgusting. How many of us have been inside prisons and seen the conditions of the people there, many of them arrested without trial? I am not alluding to Guantanamo Bay. I am talking about prisons in Pakistan, in India. I won’t say I know. I went there as a darned voyeur scavenging for a heart-wrenching story. There is no respite. I will skip that. I do not know about the piss dried up on the floor, the shit bowl in a corner, the insect-infested mattresses. The dark days. And years later the release because the person was innocent. It happens. Ifs and buts? Want to slap someone? Come along.
And people are saying it is not about us. Everyone wants to keep their distance from these dirty people doing dirty things like protesting. Can’t they take out peaceful protests? Oh, honey, this is not Gay Pride or Slutwalk. This is not even a film, if you care to look closely.
If you want the stuff about the film, then the US actress who played a small part in it is suing the director.
Cindy Lee Garcia accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula of duping her into a "hateful" film that she was led to believe was a desert adventure movie.Lawyers for Ms Garcia contend that changes in dialogue during post-production casts her in a false light."[Garcia] had a legally protected interest in her privacy and the right to be free from having hateful words put in her mouth or being depicted as a bigot," the lawsuit says."There was no mention of 'Mohammed' during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms Garcia was aware," it adds.
There is this scene where the Prophet, summoned by the lady, goes into the tent but returns within seconds to tell a young boy not to finish off the shank of raw meat. The film served no purpose. Not all films do; much of Hollywood is mindless. Or, provocative. So, as people ask with nonchalance, why the heck does a “stupid” film like ‘Innocence of Muslims’ result in so many protests across the Islamic world?
I’d like to flip the argument: why did the creator who was first called ‘Sam Bacile’ not reveal himself? Does that not convey the purpose? Why were there so many different versions about his identity? The budget was $5 million? 100 Jewish donors backed it? This was made into an Israeli plot designed to get certain Muslim groups’ hackles up.
The culprit changed. In fact, he became a culprit by virtue of being a porn filmmaker. The morality factor was easy to bring in here. Bad guy sponging on sexuality has no sense of propriety anyway. He got another faith. Or faithlessness.
The latest is a Coptic Christian.
Whoever he is, he obviously did not expect to release the movie and have people queuing up with tubs of popcorn.
However, in hiding he has been vindicated. For news channels and social networking sites this is a popcorn moment. With tissues. And the morning after hangover of dealing with self-righteous indignation.
Innocence of Muslims, indeed.
(c) Farzana Versey