“(Muhammad) is what every Muslim works towards being,” said Isra Abdulhadi, a university student who moved to Canada from Libya when she was five. “I don’t think you’ll ever find a Muslim that doesn’t feel this strongly about him.”
Abdulhadi, who has refused to watch the anti-Muslim film, explained that its portrayal of Muhammad was deeply offensive to Muslims, the prominent religion in Libya. But she also said that the violence that followed was not indicative of Muslim beliefs and values.
“That’s not how we learn in Islam to deal with things,” said Abdulhadi. “You’re not supposed to use violence against them. Even the prophet doesn’t encourage that.”
The people responsible for the aggressive reaction, she said, are a small sect of extremists.
“This is al-Qaeda, not Libyans,” said Brenda Anderson, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Regina’s Luther College. “Muslims are not a unique group because of religious sensitivity. Just as with Christians, there may be unhappiness among many but extremely few would become violent over this.”
Anees Baayou, who lives in Benghazi, Libya, was asleep at home when the U.S. consulate was attacked last Saturday night. In an interview over Skype, he touched on the Muslim community’s response to the violence.
“Ninety-nine percent of the Libyan people are against this overreaction,” said Baayou. “They are against killing people, against killing the ambassador, against ruining the embassy in Benghazi.”
Baayou said that he wanted to apologize to North Americans for what happened in Benghazi, but he also wanted the public to stop viewing the film.
In Regina, Abdulhadi lamented the inflammatory spark of the anti-Muslim film. “This movie was the start of it all,” she said.
“It was almost as if they were doing it to just get at us.”