Trending Topics

American Reaction to Muslim Protests Exaggerates ‘Muslim Rage’

While the headlines in American newspapers and magazines give the impression that the entire Muslim world is angrily trumpeting its hatred of America, the protests in Egypt and the Middle East represent just a tiny portion of those countries, according to writer Dan Murphy.

Prompted by a cover story in Newsweek proclaiming “Muslim Rage,” Murphy writes in the Christian Science Monitor that such blaring headlines give the mistaken impression that the Muslim world is full of angry, hateful, anti-American mobs intent on destroying and killing every emblem of America in their paths.

Murphy, who has written frequently about the Middle East, claims that this inflamed, distorted coverage on cable news and magazines like Newsweek continue to feed Americans a cliched, stereotypical view of Islam that is far from the truth.

“It’s time for some perspective,” Murphy writes. “The protests in more than 20 Muslim countries, over a deliberately insulting YouTube video, have been small. Small as a proportion of the world’s Muslims, and small when compared to other Muslim ‘insult’ protests in the past. And almost certainly small, when their impact is considered a few months from now.”

Murphy points out that most of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world have no desire to spend their days raging against the United States or a dumb movie made by some amateurish bigot.

“Most Muslims aren’t raging at the US or anything else,” Murphy writes. “Some are raging at rude taxi drivers. Others are kind of nervous about problems at work. And still others are thinking about maybe having a sandwich.”

In his piece, Murphy compares the total number of protesters who have popped up in Egypt, Libya and other nations to express their outrage over the anti-Islam movie produced in California and shows how little it is when held up against the enormous scenes we have witnessed during the Arab Spring over the past two years.

But Murphy also sees the smaller protests as a sign of progress in a way—though they don’t justify the inflammatory headlines of the American media.

“If you expect the occasional mass freakout like this, as I do, there’s actually a small sign of progress in these protests,” he writes. “The protests over the Danish cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad in 2006 were larger and more violent, and there was far less in the way of condemnations of the violence and apologies from Muslim-majority states than there have been this go around.”

Murphy says an associate of his in Cairo estimated that there were about 1,000 protesters out on Friday—and most of the damage was caused by “football hooligans” just looking to pick a fight with the police.

“This doesn’t mean that there’s no story here or events are worth paying attention to,” Murphy writes. “It’s just that there’s nothing new to learn about the ‘Muslim world’ in all this. Yes, it’s true that many Muslims are intolerant of perceived insult of their religion. Yes, a lot of Muslims don’t much like the US. If you think that’s news, try getting out more.”


Back to top