CAIRO – Violent protests in Sydney against a US-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) have triggered condemnations from the Muslim community in Australia, amid calls for Muslims to reflect the peaceful teachings of Islam while protesting the provocative material.
"The ICV [Islamic Council of Victoria] is appalled by the riots in Sydney," spokesman Shereen Hassan told Herald Sun on Sunday, September 16.
"While it is abhorrent that individuals should disrespect Prophet Muhammad, it is even more abhorrent that Muslims should defile his peaceful teachings by acting in such a vile manner.”
Scores of Muslims marched Saturday in Sydney’s Town Hall in protest against a US film defaming the Prophet.
The march degenerated into violence after protestors clashed with police, leaving 17 people and six policemen injured.
"It's against society and probably against the law to (do that) on the street," Nobel Park imam Ibrahim Omerdic said.
"Peaceful protest, but not violence."
At least nine people died in violent protests in the Muslim world in days of protests against a film produced by an American-Israeli real estate developer that insults the Prophet.
Titled “Innocence of Muslims”, the film portrays the Prophet as a fool, philanderer and a religious fake.
The film was posted on YouTube in June but drew attention until last week when an Egyptian-American Copt produced a trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and e-mail newsletter publicizing the movie.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet, saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
While condemning the provocative film, Muslim leaders around the world have denounced attacks on foreign diplomatic missions, calling for a measured response to the movie.
Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh said Saturday that attacks on foreign embassies over the film run counter to the peaceful teachings of Islam.
"Such acts damage the Muslim religion, are not permitted by God and are incompatible with the teachings of the Prophet,” he said.
While condemning the anti-Prophet film, Australian community leaders stressed that the offensive material does not represent the view of most non-Muslims toward Muslims.
"Inflammatory films or provocative actions such as burning the Qur’an are ... activities by bigots who are the fringe of society,” Hassan, the ICV spokesman, said.
“They do not represent the feelings of (most) ... non-Muslims towards Muslims.
“These people are best ignored or their offensive and inaccurate ideas countered by rational and factual ones expressed in a peaceful manner, as encouraged by our religion."
Australian politicians have condemned the offensive film as well as the violent protests to the material.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard denounced the film as “repulsive”.
“But the making of that video does not condone violent conduct and I absolutely condemn the violence that we have seen on Sydney's streets,” Gillard told The Australian.
“To anybody who wants to replicate that behavior today, I just want to say very strongly that this kind of conduct has no place on the streets of our country.”
New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell said the violent protests against the film could undermine Australia's successful multicultural society.
“We don't need to bring from overseas ethnic protest to this country, we certainly shouldn't bring from overseas religious conflicts,” he said.
“We've got 200 different nationalities in this city but what we saw yesterday was the unacceptable face of multiculturalism.
“The Islamic community understands the damage that has been done not just to their religion but to Australia's multicultural reputation,” O'Farrell said.
Tony Abbott, the Leader of the Opposition in the Australian House of Representatives and federal leader of the centre-right Liberal Party of Australia, said the violent protests did not fairly reflect the Islamic people of Australia.
“I think that's the message that has got to go from every Australian to those people on the streets of Sydney yesterday,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“I don't believe we saw an acceptable face of Islam yesterday.”
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.In post 9/11-era, Australian Muslims have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.
Related Links:Embassy Attacks ‘Un-Islamic’: Saudi Mufti
US Muslims Urge Prophet-like Behavior
UK Muslims Want Prophet Manners
Muslims Urged to Ignore Prophet Film
Prophet Film Fuels Muslim World