Yes but. Yes it’s good to point out that “Muslim rage” about the video is actually a tiny fraction of Muslim opinion on the subject, as Avaaz does. But it’s not so good to sort Islamists into the bad radical ones and the “moderates,” as Avaaz also does. Moderate theocracy is still theocracy, and it’s bad.
Like everyone else, many Muslims find the 13 minute Islamophobic video “Innocence of Muslims” trashy and offensive. Protests have spread quickly, tapping into understandable and lasting grievances about neo-colonialist US and western foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as religious sensitivities about depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. But the news coverage often obscures some important points:
1. Early estimates put participation in anti-film protests at between 0.001 and 0.007% of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims – a tiny fraction of those who marched for democracy in the Arab spring.
2. The vast majority of protesters have been peaceful. The breaches of foreign embassies were almost all organised or fuelled by elements of the Salafist movement, a radical Islamist group that is most concerned with undermining more popular moderate Islamist groups.
That looks alarmingly like a wedge strategy, or a move the window strategy – separate the “more popular moderate” Muslim Brotherhood from the Salafists so that the MB will seem not so bad after all. The MB is still so bad after all! Especially if you’re a woman, or gay, or a Christian or an atheist or an “apostate.”