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Since a video ridiculing the prophet Mohammed appeared on YouTube, anti-American protests have erupted in the Middle East. The violence led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya, the storming of the U.S. embassy in Yemen and clashes with riot police. What does this mean for the future of U.S.-Middle Eastern relations? Should the U.S. get further involved? How do we balance democracy with diplomacy?

Guests:
Mona Yacoubian, senior adviser, Middle East at the Stimson Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution for enhancing international peace and security
Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and former adviser to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and the Iraq Study Group
Peter Bartu, visiting scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley and former senior mediation expert for the United Nations
Jane Wales, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council and former senior director of the National Security Council

  • Chris Perry

    Hi Michael,
    I have called in a few times to your show and most recently when you had a show about Afghanistan.  I spent the majority of my time over the last 8 1/2 years in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  On balance I would like to say that most of the Muslims I have lived and worked with are wonderfully gentle souls and quite devote followers of the Muslim religion.  It seems that there are folks everywhere looking for an excuse, take the Rodney King beating.  It was a terrible event to be sure but the extent of the riots was equally awful.  The film short that kicked this last uprising off was not even sponsored by our government just allowed by our 1st ammendment rights.

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    If not on today’s show maybe on a future show go in-depth in explaining just what is ridiculing the prophet Mohammed.  Is it anything that isn’t positive?  Or amounts to encouraging non belief in him? 

    And just how many of these rioters have even seen the YouTube video?  Seems most are illiterate and are being encouraged to riot by others. Often others who like OBL had others do the destruction and killing while they themselves stayed safely out of harms way.

    And would someone please explain why our country gives billions of dollars to these countries who then encourage their people to hate and harm us? Why go out of your way to kiss a rattlesnake?

  • Colin

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday to demand that the Obama Administration set “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear program.  Isn’t Netanyahu blackmailing Obama into getting the U.S. involved in another costly Middle Eastern war by threatening to whip up a powerful domestic interest group against Obama’s re-election?  Even if Iran were able to produce one or two atomic bombs in the next year, how could that even be a remote threat to U.S. national security?

    • Kelly McArthney

      No. Listen to the speech again.

  • Gabe

    Why do we refer to all of this reaction as “protesting”? Who are people protesting? The filmmaker? The west? There’s a long tradition of social protest, but it seems to me this is better described under the more general terms “assembling”, “rallying” or, in some cases, dare I say “rioting.”

  • Rusanoff

    Do we need Islam anymore? I say we need to fight for Free Speech! and leave the rest to live in darkness and intolerance!

  • Jonah Stein

    Why do reports focus on this film being made in America instead of made by and  Egyption born Christian who immigrated.  Also, given that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been convicted of at least 2 felonies in the US, why hasn’t his citizenship been revoked and  he been deported back to Egypt already?

  • Brent

    Nobody has the right to not be offended

  • Rusanoff

    Peter Bartu,
    appeasement [əˈpiːzmənt]n1.
    (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the policy of acceding to the
    demands of a potentially hostile nation in the hope of maintaining peace

  • BGibbs

    President Obama should give a second address to the Muslim world, whether from Cairo or somewhere else. Not sure what he should say, but perhaps beginning with an introduction to the 1st Amendment and the separate branches of government–aimed at an overseas audience. I think this could dampen down some of the protest movements.

  • mike

    As a citizen of the United States and the world,  I feel it is my obligation to respect and understand the traditions and cultural sensitivities of the rest of the world.  I think most westerners understand what Muslim’s hold sacred, and are willing to live and let live when it comes to certain aspects of the Islam that westerners find deeply at odds with what we find important namely the equality of women.  Hoping that more modern or moderate forms of Islam will one day chage these practices. Is there some portion of the Islamic worlds population that also understands Western traditions of Democracy, like free speech.  After 9/11 President Bush acknowledged that there  was a distinction between Islam and the terrorist.  Yes the movie was offensive, but should’t we expect that more leaders and more of the people in the Isamic world would stand up and say something like,  “Westerners-  Americans hold dear this concept of Free Speech as much as we believe in the sacred nature of the Prophet and the Koran.  We need distinguish between the few crackpots in the west and  majority of their people who want to livein peace with us.    Is that too much to ask?  
    Ask your guest what percentage of the Islamic worlds population have a grasp of how dear we hold the concept of free speech?

  • Storm Russell

    The guests say this is unIslamic behavior – How do your guests explain the concept of the fatwa? – The
    guest noted that the violence is only on the part of a few extremist
    crackpots.  Respectfully, I
    disagree.  Literally thousands of people
    are currently involved in these protests and this is far from the first time
    such things.  I would be interested in an
    explanation of the concept of the fatwa – from my understanding, specifically
    an Islamic order that may include execution.

    • Storm Russell

      Clarifying this – I fully understand that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful.  At the same time, I suggest that no philosophy or belief is above review and that there are significant challenges associated with Islam, most troubling for me is a frequent association with violence (but respect for women is not far behind).  Virtually all religions have had associations with violence, but today in nearly all those places on the globe troubled by religious violence, the common factor is Islam.  Consider the amount of violence Muslims commit against other Muslims in Iraq, and Afghanistan in the name of religion.  Consider the religious violence taking place in Nigeria (Christian vs Muslim); Israel/Palestine (Jew vs Muslim); Pakistan/India (Hindu vs Muslim); not to mention religious violence in Indonesia, and the Philippines (and then there are the more ambiguous situations in Chechnya and the former Yugoslavia) – the common factor is Islam. Obviously, no religion is immune, but in my experience, no other religion is more associated with violence today.  I think the current outbreaks over this crude film are also troubling.  I think Salman Rushdie put it well in his interview on NPR today:
      It is the “mindset of the fanatic, mindset of the tyrant” to respond to an insult to one’s religion with violence, Rushdie told host Steve Inskeep. “To murder people who had nothing to do with it,” he added, is a “deeply uncivilized attitude.”
      My concern is that the mindset of the fanatic appears to me much more widespread in the Islamic world than in other places and I urge Muslims to review their own philosophy.

      • Colin

        Anders Breivik isn’t a Muslim.  Neither was Baruch Goldstein.  You are stereotyping an entire religion based upon the actions of a few.  Supposing that you are a good Christian, why don’t you review how often your own co-religionists have failed to live up to the Golden Rule during the past 2000 years?

        • Storm Russell

          I appreciate your comments, yet respectfully disagree on several points.  While both of the men you mentioned are clearly extremists of non-Islamic religions, they’re also mass murderers, which strongly suggests they’re mentally ill to me, rendering them irrelevant to this discussion.  The actions I’m concerned about are more widespread than the actions of psychos or a relative few extremists.  A former student of mine reminded me of the Christian carnage Catholics and Protestants wrought on each other for centuries across Europe but, as I noted in my earlier comments, the only religion involved in violence today on a global scale is Islam (which you do not dispute).  Additionally, you are incorrect about my religion (about which I’ve said nothing for you to make any supposition).  My feeling is that all religions have important contributions to the world community, but just as it’s important to recognize the religious violence on the part of Christians in the past (very likely its much closer incorporation with government than exists today), in order to avoid it, so we must also consider the possibility that there are things about Islam, or intrinsically associated with it (even if directly not of it – such as “honor killings”) that lead to greater violence associated with it than with other beliefs. You suggest that I’m stereotyping on the basis of the actions of a few, but what I’m pointing to are the actions and religious conflict involving hundreds of thousands, and that’s just relating to the Muslim-on-Muslim violence in Iraq.  Additionally, my concern relates not only to the most direct actions of those directly involved in such violence, but to the public order which fosters it. Jesus is depicted every day, somewhere, in some demeaning way with minimal protest on the part of the wider community, but institutions from Comedy Central and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’ to the Hague Municipal Museum base their actions on fear of violent protest on the possibility that muslims might be offended. It’s clear that the video which sparked this most recent violence is offensive, but I suggest there’s something seriously wrong when a cheap video results in violent riots by a particular group around the globe.

  • Farah Muhsin

    As an Arab living in America, I have been witnessing the outrage that broke out in the Middle East. A lot of people here do not understand why does it upset Muslims the representation of the prophet Muhammed when this issue isn’t upsetting to Christians when Jesus is depicted in many forms, often insulting, and the majority don’t seem to be upset by it. The other issue, which I think is more important, is the fact that the movie is executed badly, the dialogue, the editing, the directing, etc. The timing of bringing up this movie makes me personally, and many others wonder about why now?! Why on the anniversary of 9/11?! Not only that, but people here in America didn’t even hear about the movie until the outrage broke out in Egypt and Libya.

    • Clairette Rose

      You say you are an Arab living in America, but like the violent “protestors” in the Middle East, you clearly lack  any understanding of the meaning of the right to free speech and its absolute necessity in a democratic society.  You should read the U.S. Constitution and learn about the guarantees to US citizens of free speech and free assembly.  Your question about why people in this country didn’t hear about the film until demonstrations and murders occured in Egypt and Libya further displays your lack of understanding of how a free society works.  No one heard about the film because it was privately produced and financed and had nothing to do with our government.   On another note, the alleged “protestors” destroyed a German embassy because they had heard that a mosque in Berlin had been defaced by grafitti.  Again, this had nothing to do with the film, nothing to do with America, but everything to do with absolute ignorance about how free societies function.   If a mob were to rise up and destroy everything in sight everytime a Jewish synagogue was defaced, or a Muslim newspaper portrayed Jews or Christians in an ugly or insulting way, there would be scarcely a building standing in the Muslim world. 

  • James

    Praise to Forum producers for today’s above-named list of panelists, esp. Prof.  Telhami, whose reasonable voice and insistence upon a nuanced view of events in the Middle East are ALWAYS welcome.   

  • John

     

    This tragic event could be used as an opportunity to teach
    the world about American Democracy and how it works, and send a powerful
    message to these fledgling democracies in the Islamic World.

    The President standing next to the Constitution…the Real
    Constitution…Describing how it came into being and how our democratic system
    has survived and flourished because of it. He would then focus on the 1st
    Amendment and its guarantee of free speech. How this is the cornerstone of The
    Constitution and how a true democratic society can’t exist without it.

  • Ellis

    Michael,

    Face The Nation yesterday had the
    Libyan President on, he said that foreigners were responsible and
    that they had been planning this attack for months.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-3460_162-57513754/libyan-president-50-arrests-in-consulate-assault/?tag=showDoorFlexGridRight;flexGridModule

    The second problem “is our policy.”
    Article from PressTV

    24
    Afghans killed in US-led airstrikes

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/09/16/261870/23-afghans-killed-in-usled-airstrikes/

    The third problem is our incessant
    meddling in other countries. We went out of our way to take down the
    Libyan Government. It has now been well documented that the “viagra
    Libyan Toops” raping women was a lie.

    The werckage left in the wake of
    overthrowing Gadaffi in Libya extends to Mali and surrounding
    countries – we destablized the area.

    NATO Knowingly Handed Libya to Al Qaeda 

    Indeed, the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center
    (CTC) noted
    that Benghazi and the neighboring city of Darnah served a
    disproportionately high role in supplying foreign fighters to wage
    terror against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan – foot soldiers
    brought in to fuel a destructive and divisive sectarian war that
    undermined a united Sunni-Shi’ia resistance to Western troops who
    had invaded.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-backed-terrorists-murder-us-ambassador-in-libya/

    Some of the damage done to Mali

    http://mwcnews.net/news/africa/20075-shrines.html
    reported this quote from these fanatics;

    “There is no world heritage, it doesn’t exist. The infidels
    must not get involved in our business,” said a Tunisian who gave
    his name only as Ahmed and said he was part of Ansar Dine’s “media
    committee”.

    “We will destroy everything, even
    if the mausolea are inside the mosques, and afterwards we will
    destroy the mausolea in the region of Timbuktu,” he said.

     

  • Kelly McArthney

    Dear forum;
    In my view the Islamic world
    and Western world
    civilization has no word in common,
    and for a long time will not have any understanding.

    Between fifty to
    sixty generations of Muslims were educated in Islam to rape the
    human nature – not
    to use the power of thinking, not granting individual
    rights. 
    Evil is not just black or white, but when you derive your basis from the Koran, evil is black or white.
    I am not saying Muslims are not capable or not wanting free society. The lack of education, critical thinking of religion and patriarch society are some of the causes to slow Muslims to catch up with Western countries.
    I wish they would invest in their societes to build the roads and bridges for the future.

  • EIDTV

    THIS IS NOT A MOVIE. IT IS 14 MINUTES TRAILER IT IS MADE IN VERY BAD TASTE VULGAR TRASH. THE MAKER THIS HAS AN HIDDEN MOTIVE AND HE KNEW IN ADVANCE THAT MAY BRING ABOUT A RIOT WHICH
    CAN CAUSE HARM TO OTHERS WHICH NOW WE KNOW IT DID………….
    GOOD INNOCENT PEOPLE DIED BECAUSE OF THE ACTION OF THIS CRIMINAL CREEP. HE KNEW THAT SOME OF THE LEAST COMMON
    DENOMINATOR IDIOTS WHICH ARE VERY SMALL NUMBER WILL REACT
    TO HIS GARBAGE, WHILE OTHERS TOOK ADVANTAGE TO COMMIT
    CRIMES AGAINST ALL PEOPLE INCLUDE THEIR OWN WHEN THEY ARE GIVEN THE CHANCE, AND THAT CREEP JUST GAVE THEM THAT
    I WONDER WHY NOW  WHEN THE U S ELECTION IS IN FULL MOTION
    COULD THIS CREEP HAVE BEEN SET BY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO
    SEE OBAMA DEFEATED. MAY BE IT IS THE FIRST OCTOBER SURPRISE
    FINALLY I SHOULD MENTION ALL OF THE DEMONSTRATORS AGAINST
    THIS TRASH WERE COUNTED IN THE HUNDREDS AGAINST THE MILLIONS OF LAST YEAR EVEN THOUGH THE U S MEDIA TRIED TO MAKE IT BIG DEAL  BY NEVER MENTION THE VERY SMALL NUMBER
    OF PEOPLE WERE THAT INVOLVED THIS TIME
     

    • Dweems

      Quit using the film for an exuse for their violence. If everyone acted like this every time they where offended. These people need to be exterminated. I would love to see Obama defeated, but come on now your stretching
      .

  • EIDTV

    Through world history more people killed because of conflict between the three
    western religion than any other .In my own believe all three are responsible for
    for the sad state of affair we have not only today, but also through history. I do
    blame religion leaders who not only promote the division but also use religion as commodity , and they go out of their way to emphasis the difference rather than the common bond between the three. Today religion leaders have become religion merchants instead, because they use religion for financial gain and the massesthey just follow

    In my own opinion the three religions are fairy tale stories from the middle east
    in particular ancient Egypt……Please read the book of the  dead or the pyramid text

  • Susan

    I’m wondering why this segment was scheduled for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year when most Jews are in synagogue. I think a lot of folks would have wanted to participate in the conversation, since Israel is directly in the midst of these 56 ‘on fire’ Muslim states.

    And Michael – why weren’t you in synagogue?

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