In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and anti-American protests in Cairo, Egypt, VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott and videographer Japhet Weeks spoke with Said Sadek, Professor of Political Sociology at American University in Cairo. They asked him to comment about the reported role in the violence of an amateur anti-Muslim movie produced in the U.S. as well as about extremism in general.
Below are excerpts of Said Sadek’s responses. To hear them, click the sound file below
Misunderstanding free expression
There is a misunderstanding in Muslim countries [about] the relationship between government and media. They still believe it’s like in autocratic regimes, the government orders the media to do this or to do that. President Obama did not order that movie about Islam is made. In fact, he is being accused in America that he is pro-Muslim.
Making a mountain out of a mole hill
The problem is that sometimes extremist groups [single out] one media product and they exaggerate it and inflate it and make it a big issue – agenda setting. Those forces have their own political agenda. They want to [make themselves visible]. They want to distract from local issues so they would [grasp] for such things. There are many sites and many films and books against all religions. You can find them online. Nobody reads them, except a minority. Why do you all of a sudden [shed] light on a particular film and ignore the others? This has to be a politically motivated process.
The influence of extremism
The majority of people, Muslims and Christians, are not extremists but they are captives of those extremists on both sides. Each side is provoking something and then the others are responding and they try to push the silent majority into extremism, and suspicion, and intolerance and this is a real problem.
This is the price of extremism. If those who made the film wanted an extremist reaction, the got it. They succeeded.
To hear Said Sadek’s comments, play the audio below (1:44)
Cairo Bureau chief and regional correspondent, Voice of America. Reporting news of the Arab Spring and other developments across the Middle East and North Africa