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While Libyan and Algerian bloggers condemn the film defaming Islam, many are stunned at the misdirected anger of violent protestors
By Mouna Sadek
ALGIERS, Algeria – An amateur film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) unleashed a week of raucous protests on the Arab street. Online reactions were no less forceful.
While bloggers roundly condemned the offensive nature of the film, they equally denounced acts of violence and destruction.
The author of the Algerian "Mozabite" blog called on Muslims to follow in the footsteps of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and not seek revenge.
"Don't use violence to respond to those who want to attack the Prophet Mohammad, who represents the whole of humanity," he wrote.
The producers of the scandalous film intended to sow fitna among Muslims, wrote blogger Dézedien, by releasing the trailer September 11.
For his part, blogger "El Sahafi el Djazairi" argued that freedom of expression, though a fundamental right, has its limits. In a letter to the US Ambassador in Algeria, he called for an apology to the Algerian people and Muslims across the world.
The deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi is indicative of the internal tensions simmering in the country and could portend "a new Afghanistan," warned journalist Akram Belkaid.
"Many observers feel that the Libyan government will sooner or later enter into conflict with the salafist militia, who reject any alliance with the United States and its allies," he commented.
Activists posting on the Facebook page "Algerian Special Envoys" made little distinction between the defamation of Islam and violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.
"Muslims are easily manipulated, and that's exactly what the makers of the film wanted to achieve," commented bank clerk Lokmane Bouider. "The main aim behind all this is not to paint the Prophet in a bad light (peace and blessings of God be upon him), but to provoke Muslims and steer them to violence, killing foreigners and burning down embassies in response, so that they can say: 'Look, these Muslims are barbarians'."
In Benghazi, still reeling from the deadly attack on the US consulate that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others, activists mobilised online to decry the violence. Some wondered about the country's future in light of last week's incident.
"We are entering a stage of chaos that would lead the country to dangerous turns threatening Libya's existence and undermining our hopes about building a modern democratic state based on constitution, law and peaceful rotation of power," Badri Sharif El Manai blogged.
"Therefore, where do those people want to take Libya to? To hell? To another Somalia or Afghanistan, where our country turns into a hotbed for every adventurer?!" he wondered. Some Libyan internet users expressed disbelief at the misdirected anger of Benghazi protestors.
They reminded readers that the US diplomat was not responsible for releasing the anti-Islam film and that peaceful demonstrations would suffice to show protest.
Blogger Anas Abu Mees commented that raucous protests only contributed to "disseminating and promoting such works."
"What happened in Benghazi this evening is only a repetition of many other similar situations: a nobody produces a work (a film, book, etc.) denigrating Islam, and then crowds of people react with volcanic anger that burns, destroys, and, in today's case, kills everything in its way without any regard to man's blood," he wrote in an article, entitled "Defenders of the Holy."
Some Libyans created Facebook groups and staged demonstrations to mourn the death of the US ambassador.
On the Facebook page "Opposing the Death of Chris in Tripoli," Abdallah Fazzan posted: "We mourn a great friend of the Libyan people in ambassador Stevens, and we apologise for failing to protect an honoured guest."