DAMMAM: SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS STAFF
Wednesday 12 September 2012
Last Update 14 September 2012 2:24 am
A number of Saudi academics and journalists roundly condemned the killing of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on Wednesday.
They also condemned the highly provocative and obscene movie by an unidfentified filmmaker that provided the pretext for the extremists to carry out the heinous crime. They called for bringing the killers of the Americans and the foul-mouthed filmmaker to justice.
“As a Muslim, I strongly condemn this attack (on American envoys) because it contradicts every principle that Islam promotes,” Khaled Al-Awadh, a Qassim-based short-story writer, told Arab News. “Islam is the religion of peace and such crimes are prohibited.”
Al-Awadh said there was no justification for the killings. “I personally do not think the violence is related to the film on our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). There are some deviant parties and groups who try to launch such terror attacks during times of crises to achieve certain political goals,” he said.
Al-Awadh did not specify the possible motives of the extremists but pointed out that the international focus had now fully shifted to Libya from Syria. “Politics is such a dirty game … You have witnessed how the media has now trained their cameras on Libya … the tragedy in Syria has taken a backseat,” he said.
Journalist Hadi Faqihi blamed the attacks on the rising tide of extremism. “What happened in Benghazi is a direct result of extremism. On one side is the director of a film who propagates hate against Islam through an obnoxious movie, and on the other are those extremists who kill innocent people sending a totally wrong message,” he said.
Faqihi said there was room for coexistence. “But unfortunately the shrill cries of the extremists have all but extinguished the voices of reason and sanity.”
Referring to a placard carried by a Christian woman during the recent 9/11 memorial ceremony which read, “Muslims didn’t do it,” Faqihi wondered if she would carry the same after what had happened in Benghazi.
“While there is no doubt that American foreign policy has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocents, what happened in Benghazi is neither justified nor acceptable,” Faqihi added.
Hasan Al-Harithy, a journalist based in Taif, said there was ambiguity surrounding the killings. “What we know for sure is that Islam rejects the killing of innocent people, whatever their religion. I hope and pray that this will not provide the Americans with yet another excuse to kill more Muslims,” he said.
The Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) joined world leaders in condemning the attack. In a written statement, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said he was shocked by the attack. “It cannot be condoned on any grounds,” he said, and also expressed grave concern at the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo.
Ihsanoglu said the violence emanated from extreme emotions aroused by the production of a film that has hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.
“The two incidents demonstrate serious repercussions of the abuse of the freedom of expression that OIC has consistently been warning against,” he said. “While the film is a deplorable act of incitement, resorting to violence resulting in loss of innocent lives cannot be condoned,” he said.
The OIC chief called for restraint and urged the law enforcing officials concerned to take all necessary measures to bring the situation under control.
“The international community cannot be held hostage to the acts of extremists on either side,” he said.
Ihsanoglu believed the solution could only be found by addressing the issues pertaining to the freedom of religion and freedom of expression through structured international engagement.
He referred to the OIC initiative embodied in UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 and the Istanbul Process for its consensual implementation, which provide the avenues for such engagement.
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