"Revive truth by mentioning it and kill falsehood by abandoning it," said Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph. In the case of the film "Innocence of Muslims," a morbid demonstration of Muslim hatred, the Arabs did the exact opposite. The new Arab leaders were dragged along instead of taking the lead.
The Egyptian broadcaster and journalist Ibrahim Issa says the Egyptian government and President Mohammed Morsi seemed confused. They neither assuaged their extremist public nor placated the Americans, with whom they had made a deal to obtain power and gain access to the International Monetary Fund. "They forgot that playing on the ropes is only good in the circus," Issa says sarcastically.
Indeed, it's strange that the Muslim Brotherhood was the one to cancel the massive demonstration it was planning. It's not hard to imagine what their position would have been had they not been in power. As Ariel Sharon once said, citing a famous Israeli pop song, "what you see from here you don't see from there."
Such events test the mettle of the new regime, whose excessive force against the demonstrators caused the death of two young people. This raises the question of whether the Egyptian police are reverting to the old regime's methods. Because even if the demonstrations plunge into violence, they can be handled without killing and without using guns.
The media in the Arab world - Facebook, television and radio - have taken the leading role in killing the falsehood by abandoning it. The debate has not passed over Israel's Arab community. The two television stations I watched in Egypt featured several intellectuals and political and social activists who condemned the violence that accompanied the legitimate protest. They said this violence causes the Arabs even more harm than the film itself because it portrays the Muslims and Arabs as intolerant and as advocates of violence.
Alongside the serious, painful discussion and the conspiracy industry, the caricature industry is thriving. In one caricature a demonstrator says: "When we got angry we set three police cars on fire, and if the United States continues we'll set the Cairo Tower on fire."
Another caricature, which was more of a manifesto, is about a demonstrator facing the U.S. Embassy while standing on the American flag in Nike shoes and Levi's jeans. He photographs the demonstration with an iPhone, sits in front of his Hewlett-Packard computer and uses Google to search for the words "embassy" and "flag." Then he moves on to YouTube to watch the demonstrations, clicks Like to share with his friends on Facebook and before shutting down Windows he ponders the need to be independent of the Americans.
The people in the Arab and Islamic countries took to the streets due to the justified feeling that they were not being taken into account on issues concerning them. The Arab states' leaders are largely seen - justifiably - as collaborators of the Americans. Instead of benefiting the Arab cause, this collaboration slaps the cause's face, while others receive a different kind of treatment.
For example, without noisy demonstrations, when the veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas made a deeply offensive remark about the Jews, her career was instantly and disgracefully terminated. Apparently the world understands another kind of force, an ingenious force that strikes in the right places.
Meanwhile, the outburst in the Arab states has died down. But in the brave, painful soul-searching that accompanies the events, the Arabs will learn how to wield their power, only for just causes, with ingenuity and in the right places.
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