Anti-Islam film just a catalyst

2012-09-22 14:51

Countries see these kinds of movies as a secondary form of colonialism, says activist

The protests against the anti-Islam video featuring the Prophet Muhammad is a reaction to the history of foreign intervention in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, says Cape Town activist Shuaib Manjra.

“The movie was just a catalyst. These countries are where the direct impact of imperial intervention is felt the most and local people see these movies as a secondary form of colonialism.

“The drone attacks in these countries have infuriated the local population because of the blatant disregard for lives,” he told City Press.

In South Africa, Muslims have protest fatigue, Manjra said, and therefore the protests against the movie did not spread to South Africa.

“South Africa is removed. There is outrage by people, but it is manifested in a much more restrained way.”

He added that local Muslims see the limit of these protests and their limited impact.

“People know we can’t have this reaction every time. To go overboard is a blanket invitation for any nutter to blow something up.”

Demonstrations against the anti-Islam video spread across the world this week and left 31 people dead.

Pakistan declared a day of protest on Friday about the film, called Ishq-e-Rasool Day, following a week in which two locals died in violent protests.

The deadliest attack killed 12 people on Tuesday in Kabul, Afghanistan, including eight South African businessmen who were travelling to the airport in Kabul.

A female suicide bomber detonated a bomb by driving into the bus in which the South Africans were travelling when it stopped for fuel.

At a debate about the protests on Thursday at the United Nations in New York, Ncumisa Notutela from the department of international relations said the incident spells a return to Afghanistan’s violent recent past.

“These incidents, coupled with escalating violence in Afghanistan over the past month, could undermine the progress made towards peace and remind us much more needs to be done,” she said.

Many South Africans overseas work for security companies in dangerous areas.

“While the exact figures are not concrete, there is ample evidence that foreign private security companies recruit Africans to work in volatile situations such as Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Sabelo Gumedze in a paper on private sector security in Africa.

Nelson Kgwete, international relations spokesperson, said the government had not yet managed to repatriate the bodies of the South Africans who died, but South Africans travelling to such countries must be cautious.

“We do not issue travel advisories because the countries don’t like it when we say our people should not go there. But South African citizens can phone us to ask for advice when they travel.”

Meanwhile, a French magazine has printed a series of cartoons the Prophet Muhammad, which are set to cause more protests.

Reuters reports that the drawings in the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo risked exacerbating a crisis that has seen the storming of US and other Western embassies, the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and a deadly suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

Riot police were sent in to protect the paper’s Paris offices after the issue hit news stands.

It featured several caricatures of the Prophet, showing him naked in what the publishers said was an attempt to poke fun at the furore over the film.

The French government, which had urged the weekly not to print the cartoons, said it was shutting embassies and schools in 20 countries as a precaution on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers.

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