I’m not surprised that a film trailer which insults the Prophet Mohammed is being blamed for an assault on the US consulate in Benghazi which reportedly killed the US ambassador to Libya. When viewed through the prism of religious fanaticism, the deadly attack appears to be just another knee-jerk, emotional reaction to a slight against Islam.
If only it were that simple.
While the film is undoubtedly being exploited by religious opportunists to win popular support, it is NOT the spark that ignited the firestorm against western interests in Libya. If it was, a frenzied mob would have stormed the US consulate, not a well- trained, well-equipped militia. This attack was lucid and well planned—most likely in advance. Executing it during a wave of popular fury over a film trailer was merely good PR. Moreover, this was not the first time western diplomats in Libya have been targeted by extremists. Back in June, the British Ambassador to the country narrowly escaped with his life when his convoy was rocketed approximately three hundred meters from the gates of the consulate in Benghazi. A week before that, a bomb was lobbed at the US mission in the city.
Peel back the veil of religious indignation and the true motive of these assaults is all too clear. Islamic extremists in Libya want power and having lost out at the ballot box, their only recourse now is to seize it forcibly from the western-backed government in Tripoli. Continue reading