The threat of war is responsible for the unrest in the Middle East
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 21:09
Last week, the film “Innocence of Muslims” set areas in the Middle East world on fire. Four Americans were killed in Libya and rioting and violent demonstrations against the U.S. followed soon after.
The media coverage of the events have largely focused on a religious angle — that conservative Muslims are upset because of the Prophet Mohammed’s portrayal and have thus acted out violently.
This is true.
The film triggered religious-based anger, but to attribute the violence to religion alone is to miss the larger context of what is happening in the Middle East.
It is not a coincidence that a war-torn, impoverished region of the world is home to the religious furor being seen. It is the only environment in which that mindset can exist.
There is a documented decline of religious beliefs in western nations that has coincided with increased standards of living.
As people invest themselves in hobbies, acquire goods to make their lives more comfortable and live in a safe, well-defined society, the drive to invest time and energy into religion decreases. There are other things to focus on.
Yet taking all that out of the picture — the television, sports and creative self-expression — would make life considerably duller.
Then add the poverty, the military occupation and clashing cultures found in the Middle East.
Think of a life in which suicide bombings are a reality, where extremist organizations pump anti-U.S. propaganda — some fabricated, some legitimate — into the populace. A life without paved roads or running water or any sense of security.
People are poor with nothing to do and surrounded by violence while being fed propaganda. It is easy to see how one could be angered living in an environment like this.
That is where the problem in the Middle East truly lies.
In the frustration and anger caused by perpetual war and an inability to reign in the chaos, in living life in a fragmented society absent of social programs or the unifying force of nationalism. Religion is merely the means used to express this frustration. It is an outlet that gives people a target at which to aim their anger.
This takes time to process and understand, time the media doesn’t have.
There are commercials to air and pitches to make. Simplify the situation down to a ten-second byline, and send it out.
It’s easier and more profitable.
It is important to make the distinction, because to ignore it is to breed bigotry. Any online article’s comment section about the situation in the Middle East will show this.
People attribute the violence to religion and nothing more, putting all Muslims into one large category, as followers of a violent religion that permits killing those who offend it.
This could not be further from the truth.
I know Muslims, and I know the love and compassion they show for all life.
I know that they tolerate other’s opinions, no matter how inflammatory or offensive they may be.
I know that what is happening in the Middle East isn’t because of a religion’s hypnotic power to so easily sway it’s believers to violence.
I only hope the media will show the same.
Daniel Serrano is a senior double major in English and journalism and a contributing writer for the Daily 49er.