VOICE OF LIBERTY: IN THE NAME OF A MOVIE – Reflections on the Despicable Anti-Islam Movie and Rights ~ Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede


In utter amazement, the world watched on as the Arab world shook to its feet during what was popularly termed the Arab Spring. Here, we saw people of different cultures and faith stand up together to demand for a less authoritative, and people-representing government. The result of this in some parts were highly successful, while in some other parts, was a price too heavy to pay for the protesters courtesy of those that lost their lives in the protest.

In another fashion however, the world was taken by storm by angry and in some cities, violent protests by Muslims against a movie produced in Hollywood, depicting at best, an insulting message to believers of Islam throughout the world. Lives have been lost, properties have been destroyed and anger has been exercised. However, a lot of questions will most likely remain forever unanswered. One of such is the very motive of the movie, and the intent of its producers.

In a not too distant past, a US fast food restaurant, Chil-fil-A stirred non-violent protests against its chain president, Dan Cathy’s publicly voiced anti-gay sentiments. The inspired movements that followed as described by Huffington Post’s Timothy Stenovec were not only peaceful, but effective in expressing their disagreement over such comments. Attempts to plunder the law by some public office holders in holding the restaurant illegally accountable by denying location expansion was actively and publicly denounced by seasoned rights advocate such as Tom Palmer in this CATO Institute publication where he reiterated Dan Cathy’s right to his views.  

However in similar contrast, a planned miss world pageant scheduled to hold in Nigeria was not only aborted and compulsorily rescheduled, but also led the loss of at least a hundred lives as reported by The Telegraph in the aftermath of a protest by followers of Islam over a reported newspaper article that suggests a religious blasphemy regarding the founder of Islam, prophet Mohammed.

Reflecting on the reaction of the groups involved in both instances, one would want to consider the influence of a greater followership on the manner and outcome of their protests. It is evident then, that non-violent stand against Dan Cathy’s statement bore no sub-differences among the inspired movement, but all came under one umbrella to stand for what they believe in, while on the other hand however, a greater fragility exists in the handling of religious differences which represents the majority of the world’s population, divided between Christians and Muslims. The unity and peaceful co-existence of these two large diverse world groups holds a key influence in the political and socio-economic stability of the world.

While the post-traumatic effects of 9/11 and other religious conflicts around the world abounds, one wonders the reckless necessity for inciting a religious war that is capable of bringing the world to a deadly halt.

Nonetheless, the point here is not about depriving oneself of the individual rights to free speech or freedom of association in lieu of preserving the global peace, but, that of the application of rights and its relative respect for the rights of others.

In the case of Dan Cathy, his views were expressly expressed without restraint or concern for others who might not find his views acceptable, but also was his view responsibly echoed. In the case of this violent inciting movie however, the physical and emotional trauma inflicted by the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, regarded as the founder of Islam on followers of the religion is potent enough to lead to extremism and hatred for everything the producers stood for.

Part of what the producers stood for was being American (Hollywood production) and anti-Islam (theme and nature of film), both of which are already being paid for from locations like Tunisia to Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Istanbul, Malaysia, and across other  Muslim and non-Muslim states such as Nigeria were too much a price for the pleasure of a few, including murders such as that of the late US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stephens.

While the extremist violent reactions to this by Muslims all over is reckless, unnecessary, unjust and uncalled for, the producers also should acknowledge the extremism of their exercise of rights through the produced inflammable and despicable movie in the words of Hilary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and make up for its attendant damages.

There is absolutely a need to embrace tolerance on either side of the coin.


Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede, a young Nigerian Christian, is an Associate of African Liberty and a columnist under the VOICE OF LIBERTY Project

Fiyin argues against unnecessary incitement of religious sentiments