Islamic protests and attacks have swept through Europe the past several days, causing widespread fear and panic. Many are blaming the frequently violent protests and riot on Nakoula Basseley Nakoula’s film, The Innocence of Muslims. Supposed trailers for a longer film were uploaded onto Youtube in early September, but were in fact, pieces of Nakoula’s film. A fragment of the film was broadcasted on an Egyptian television station, sparking controversy due to heavy anti-Islamic overtones. The recent surge of protests and attacks in the Middle East has been blamed on the movie, but is this true?
Days before the initial attacks on U.S. and foreign embassies, the White House was given warnings that there would be attacks, but the threats were apparently cast aside. Multiple sources have confirmed that a warning was sent, but curiously, the White House has denied the fact. Many news outlets have ignored these facts and instead fixated themselves on the idea of the film being the source of the violence. Claiming that the attacks were in response to The Innocence of Muslims (one can choose to watch this video on Youtube), numerous leaders within the White House are now changing their stories and backpedaling away from that story in light of recent news. Receiving flak from foreign-policy analysts, the White House has been trying to move away from blaming the movie and has moved towards a more ambiguous explanation. In a statement, Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “Well, what I can tell you is that we have provided information about what we believe was the precipitating cause of the protest and the violence, based on the information that we have had available. There is an ongoing investigation. The FBI is investigating. And that investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.” It is unclear whether or not there was some sort of communication or intelligence error, but that is where speculation points.
Regardless of whether the attacks were caused by outrage against the film or whether they were pre-planned with political and social motives, the protests have spread rapidly. The attacks and protests have made their way to Asia, even though most of the unrest is still concentrated in Europe and parts of the Middle East. These recent protests may not be linked to the original attacks against the embassies, as many of the present participants are blasting the film. Many countries with large Muslim populations have proposed blocking the video on Youtube and have urged theaters not to show the film. Others have opposed such propositions, invoking the freedom of speech with some even supporting Nakoula. While the initial violence has decreased and the number of peaceful protests has increased, all of the western world seems to be engulfed in this crisis.
Nakoula was recently (and willingly) escorted by Los Angeles police officers to be questioned by federal officers. According to NBC News, the questions were “aimed at determining whether he violated the terms of his 5-year probation by uploading a video to the Internet.” Several people involved with the film have backed away from it in an effort to avoid major criticism.