The murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi called to mind one of my previous BrooWaha articles on Libya (Making war on the Dead, March 14, 2012). I never believed in the fake promise of the Arab Spring. Let me be even more frank: these people are incapable of freedom. They are immersed, they will always be immersed, in darkness, hysteria and fanaticism. Let me remind you of some of my previous words:
Why, oh why, I continually ask myself, did the West ever get involved in wretched palaces like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya?Why did we not just leave the people in these dreadful countries to get on with their own clannish and debased lives? We wasted precious blood and we wasted precious resources in gifting ‘freedom’ that is no freedom. All we have done is uncork the bottle, letting out the genie of ignorant fanaticism.
And so it goes on, screaming in Egypt, murder in Libya. I would ask you not to be deluded by the speculation that the latest rampage was caused by The Innocence of Muslims, a silly satire on the life of the Prophet Mohammed. The attack on the consulate in Benghazi was clearly planned well in advance. Protestors do not as a rule come armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
There is a terrible irony in this, considering that Chris Stevens was fully behind the ousting last year of Colonel Gaddafi, fully behind the attempts to ‘liberate’ Libya. He was guilty of no crime; he had shown nothing but friendship. This is his return.
Innocence or guilt, what does that matter when the ignorant have made up their minds? Chris Stevens is dead. In Pakistan, Rimsha Masih, a fourteen-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome, is living in fear of her life. They hate her, for she is a Christian. They hate her even more because she is alleged to have burned pages from the Quran.
She was arrested earlier this year under that country’s ferocious blasphemy laws, though the evidence against her was highly dubious, resting on no more than her own ‘confession’. Recently released on bail, she and her family are now in hiding. Their Muslim neighbours had already threatened to burn them alive. According to her father, an illiterate house painter, they were saying;
We are going to burn you inside the house. We are not going to spare you or your kids. Then we will burn the homes of the other Christians. Bring the girl and the family to us. We want to kill them.
This in the name of God. It’s all an excuse, of course, a reason for attacking Pakistan’s beleaguered Christian minority. It makes no difference that a local imam has been arrested, accused of fabricating evidence against the girl. His own deputy claimed the imam had added pages from the Quran to a bag full of ashes allegedly discarded by Rimsha.
What do inconvenient facts like facts matter? For many, accusation here is enough; she is guilty because she is a Christian. Even if the case is dropped, the suggestion of blasphemy is likely to hang around this unfortunate girl, also illiterate, for the remainder of her life.
In Libya the day after the attack on the Benghazi consulate a spokesman for Ansar al-Sharia, an extremist group, announced that “Mockery of Sharia and the Prophet should be met forcefully. This is a popular uprising where all Libyan people have come forward to make victorious the religion of Allah.”
There is no evidence at all that Chris Stevens personally had mocked Islam and Islamic law. No, he was just there, a convenient target, his innocence or guilt wholly irrelevant. An American ambassador and a Pakistani teenager with Down’s syndrome, two people as far apart in this life as can be imagined. But they are united as the victims of ugly extremism and blind ignorance, evils that hide under the mask of faith.