Violence in the Middle East – Our Prayers can make a difference
Images streaming in from the Middle East are disturbing to say the least. The charred remnants of the embassy building in Benghazi, Libya, street fights involving improvised incendiary weapons in Cairo, Egypt and thugs murderously brandishing semi-automatic guns in the Sinai Peninsula appear more like an apocalyptic movie. As the rest of the world watches in shock, violence appears to escalate.
It all began with the circulation of an offensive film trailer in Egypt. A film made in the Los Angeles area by an anonymous Sam Bacile whom the Associated Press later identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian. (Associated Press) The film, Innocence of Muslims, first began making the rounds on YouTube in July. The disparaging film portrays the Prophet Muhammad as "a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser." (NBC) It is reported that the acting crew were kept in the dark about the end product of the film and the name Muhammad and every derogatory reference to Islam were dubbed into the audio track of the film, post production. Later the film trailer was dubbed into Arabic and publicized by two hardline Islamist television channels in Egypt.
Protests against the film quickly erupted on the streets of Cairo and began to spread like an untamed wildfire to nearly two dozen other countries in the region, including Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Sudan, and Lebanon.
In a region of the world where independent broadcasting and "first amendment rights" are as alien as a snow storm in Summer, an easily aggravated section of society wrongly sees the United States government as being involved in the making and publishing of the film. And hence the anger has rapidly shifted from the filmmaker(s) to the United States itself.
Every slight, intended or incidental, is met with a response that is fierce and violent. However not all the violence stems from an obligation to defend their faith. Some of it can be attributed to "political grandstanding" where eager politicians make use of a misguided and poorly informed population. An idea further substantiated by the fact that the film trailer was released so close to September 11 an anniversary that is as charged in the Muslim world as it is in the United States. (Economist)
"One misguided extremist in America made the video, and another lot of misguided extremists in the Arab world picked on it." (Economist)
This utter lack of responsibility from the filmmaker and the crazed crowd has resulted in the loss of lives. The lives of peacemakers like Ambassador Stevens and three other embassy workers along with the lives of Libyan security personnel were needlessly lost. The lives of those caught in the crossfire were exchanged for conniving grandstanding and uncontrollable wrath.
Another cause for considerable concern is the plight of the Christian population in the region. There already exists religious tension among Muslims, Christians and Coptic Christians. They are targets of sporadic acts of violence and Christians fear for their safety in the wake of the film trailer and the ensuing protests that have turned violent.
There is indeed much to be learned from this demonically charged incident. It is a lesson in maturity and responsibility we should all strive for because the actions of the one do affect the many. And the actions of the many affect the nations of the world.
Much prayer is needed.
God's peace would wash over these troubled nations. (Philippians 4:7)
For the protection of Christians throughout the region. (Psalm 34:7)
For the safety of the innocent, nationals and expatriates in the region. (Psalm 91:1,11)
For healing and restoration. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
God's comfort for those whose loved ones were needlessly murdered. (Genesis 4:10)
God frees those who are held captive to deception and delusions of Islam.(2 Corinthians 10:4)
God opens the hearts and minds of the people in the region to hear His Word and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. (Matthew 13:23)
For a sense of maturity and responsibility in each one of us. (Hebrews 6:1)
Muslims are healed and delivered from the spirit of offense. Pray they learn to forgive those who have failed or offended them. (Matthew 6:16, 11:6)
These freedom fighters will receive a revelation of the democracy they fought to achieve for their nations.
Sources: Associated Press, Economist, NBC
Images sourced from: http://www.guardian.co.uk