BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE
The sudden death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, shocked the minds and human conscience, he was killed along with three other members of his staff in Benghazi in what should be called a senseless and vicious attack on the Consulate. The attack was fuelled by a short amateurish American-made video mocking Prophet Mohammed the founding father of Islam.
Before his sudden death Mr. Stevens took up his position last May after working as an envoy in Libya where he helped the rebels to bring an end to the reign of Gaddafi. He was highly instrumental in the struggle of the Libyan people for freedom and was admired by the rebels for his support of their cause so, why he would deserve such a heartless death along with those killed with him is a question every serious minded Libyan should begin to ask.
No doubt the video responsible for the backlash is despicable, it should be criticized by all peace loving people as meant to instigate violence and create unnecessary controversy. Call it a PR move targeted to satisfy the selfish interest of some private citizens who do not care about the consequences their action may generate and the risk to innocent lives, but at the same time, the irresponsible action of a few acting on their own personal intuition should not be seen as a legitimate justification for the brutal killing of innocent American citizens.
The death of Mr. Stevens and the other embassy officials who had worked as representatives of the U.S. in the region and who had relentlessly served both the U.S. government and the Libyan people in their quest for freedom, should be seen as a wakeup call to Western elements who because of their disdain for another religion, act without giving thoughts to the implication their decision may have on innocent people. The deaths would not have occurred had those people reconsider their moves by not allowing self gratification and interest to overcome their sense of moral responsibility.
Having said that, those who killed Mr. Steven and the innocent Americans have acted cowardly, they have taken their anger where it does not belong. Killing innocent people in the name of religion is not only morally reprehensible, it is also legally wrong and irresponsible. The fact that some private citizens acting in isolation defamed a religion or are responsible for blasphemy, should not be a ticket for angry elements to blindly take their anger upon those not responsible for the selfish action of a few.
The manner of death of Mr. Stevens and his staffers is now making some to think that maybe, it was a premeditated attack designed to coincide with the 9/11 killings. It may be an indication of the rage that still smolders in pockets around the region and may be an example of a burning desire by those who sympathize with Al Qaeda to carry out a symbolic attack on a day when Americans united to remember victims of 9/11. The senseless violence if properly investigated may have the touch of Al Qaeda. Such an attack could not have been planned within 24-hours and the presence of rocket-propelled grenades at the scene of a mere protest, should draw suspicion of a bigger plan in the making before the attacks.
The ambassador’s death and the other killings is a bitter loss. It may be time to educate the public about limits of the First Amendment and the free exercise of religious expression. While we all love our constitutionally given rights under the Free Exercise Clause, our rights may not be used to infringe on the rights of others to freely exercise or hold their religion dearly. We all know by now the importance of the Quran to Muslims and how much they revered the Prophet Mohammed, no burning of the Quran or blasphemy should be tolerated, because at the end of the day the result would be violence, destruction of property and loss of innocent lives. While it is likely the distasteful movie was used as a catalyst, the attacks could have been disrupted but for its release.
On the other hand, the Islamic world and nations in the region should endeavor to educate their citizens about the respect for other people’s rights to free expression. It is time they desist from using violence as a tool against the West and especially against American interests. It seems whenever there is an event of this kind, the leadership let down its guard allowing extremists and radical elements to seize the opportunity and attack Western interests in the name of religion.
Though the President of Libya’s National Assembly, Mohammed Magarief had apologized for the killings, his apology will not bring back those killed, the embassy and its staffs should have been protected against such aggression by criminal elements. It may be time for the Libyan government to properly take charge of security within its borders, those responsible for the deaths should be brought to justice and we as a society must desist from any action that promotes religious intolerance.
The unexpected killings should not be used as a political debate here in the U.S., it is a sad time in the history of the nation and those that are thinking about generating a political backlash over what is an unfortunate situation should caution and not attempt to score votes, by criticizing the Obama administration over the deaths. To do so, would have consequences.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E.JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ a new work of fiction. Follow on Twitter @san0670.