Protests sparked by an American-made video mocking the Prophet Mohammad are expected to intensify across Pakistan. Ahead of the protests, the United States issued a travel warning advising American citizens to avoid traveling to Pakistan. American officials even released television advertisements showing President Obama condemning the incendiary video.
Ansar Abbasi, Pakistani journalist, explains why this video has angered so many Pakistanis. "You need to understand that why, under the garb of the freedom of expression, such movies are allowed to be on the internet, and why there is no action being taken against those who are committing blasphemy."
Abbasi points to laws that protect Jews against antisemitism, and asks why there are not similar laws protecting Muslims.
Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University and Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom, describes the impact this could have on U.S.-Pakistan relations.
"I think it is a hate crime in the sense that we no longer are talking of free speech. It is like shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater, and almost calculating that people will be angered. There's cause and effect here," Ahmed said.
"We have to discover a new paradigm of how to treat each others' cultures and civilizations. The argument here for free speech is countered by arguments of Muslim societies, like Pakistan for example, where the constitution protects the integrity and the reputation of the Prophet of Islam."
Ahmed attributes much of the violence to a lack of understanding between the two cultures, and having watched incidents like this one occur periodically over the last few decades, he is frustrated to see that so little has changed. "We have to come up with a solution, because every life is precious."