by VIJAY PRASHAD
Al-Nass (The People), and other television channels of “Satellite Salafism,” broadcast news of a year old mediocre film trailer about the life of the Prophet Mohammad, made by an Israeli-Californian and championed by a Florida-based Christian pastor. Across the waters, radicals spurred each other on. The reactions in Cairo and Benghazi were swift. Crowds formed in front of the US embassy in Egypt and the US consulate in Libya, storming them, and, in Benghazi, a rocket-fired grenade – it seems – killed four US officials, including the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.
The crowds in both Cairo and Benghazi included not only radical Islamists, but also groups such as Egypt’s Ultras, the soccer fan club that played an important role in the 2011 revolution. The media has concentrated on the presence of bearded men and black flags to paint these protests as the work of Salafis, and to point the finger at Ansar al-Shariah and other fringe groups. The black flag (the banner of the eagle) does not, of course, belong solely to al-Qaeda or even to Islamic radicalism. It has become a commonplace symbol used by those who want a more robust Islamic presence in the public sphere as well as by those who want to live under an Islamic theocracy. Both claim the flag, so its presence is not conclusive about the currents that took part in this, and other such events. It will take time to fully understand the roots of such violent acts, after careful forensic reporting on those who came to the protests. Nevertheless, some preliminary observations can be made regarding the ongoing social convulsions, at least in the Libyan case.
For more on this story, visit: Humiliation and Rage in Libya » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.