With arrest of ‘Innocence of Muslims’ maker, Obama sends wrong message

What does the new Egyptian government have in common with the U.S. Justice Department under Barack Obama?

Both have desired to arrest the man behind the crude anti-Muslim film that allegedly sparked demonstrations throughout the Middle East, including the one in Libya that ended in the deaths of four Americans at a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

That’s expected of a country like Egypt. It’s disturbing for the United States.

Yes, filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (that’s only one of his names) was arrested for violating the terms of his parole on a bank fraud conviction, not for making the film, “Innocence of Muslims.” Apparently, one of the conditions of his parole was that he not access the Internet for a time.

But as this Wall Street Journal piece notes, the Justice Department doesn’t go after everyone who violates a term of parole like that. Not only was he arrested, he was denied bail and deemed a flight risk.

I’ll stipulate that the film he made is disgusting and a misrepresentation of the Muslim faith. He apparently also faces problems with a principal actress, who claims he never told her what the film was about.

But in this country, it isn’t a crime to make an offensive movie. If it were, much of Southern California would be in lockdown.

As this piece on the First Amendment notes, if we start punishing people for making misleading religious films, we would soon lose our freedom of religion, as well as of speech. Which government board would be put in charge of reviewing all films before they are deemed worthy to show?

It seems as if Obama is trying awfully hard to placate Islamic extremists. On the one hand, he talks about the freedom of expression. On the other, the government has tried to persuade YouTube to remove the video (which it hasn’t done), and it has arrested the filmmaker.

Contrast that with the way Denmark reacted when a political cartoonist there was assailed for drawing cartoons that caricatured the prophet Muhammad. The nation stood firm behind its principles despite protests at Danish embassies. “Buy Danish” campaigns broke out in many civilized countries.

Nakoula is apparently not a nice person. He may well have violated his parole. But a larger principle is at stake here. The Obama administration isn’t going to placate extremists by arresting him for a parole violation.

It could have gained something, however, by postponing the arrest for a while to emphasize that the United States stands on principle even in the face of rampages from people who most likely are affiliated with terrorists.

About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

4 comments

  1. Chaz Martel

    Dhimmi President Obama Sabotages the First Amendment.

    You can rest assured that had this poorly crafted trailer on YouTube not been used as an excuse by the Salafists and other radical loons in the Islamic community to manufacture Islamic rage worldwide, that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the creator of “Innocence of Muslims” , would never have been arrested. The reasons given for his arrest, even if legitimate, were implemented on the order of the Dhimmi President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, to cowardly appease the Muslim world. The appeasement of the raging Muslim world over this idiotic trailer by arresting this poor man, (who incidentally is a Coptic Christian who was persecuted in Egypt for years before being forced to emigrate to the U.S.), says in effect to the entire world that the U.S., is now controlled by the abomination which is Sharia law which makes it a crime punishable by death to ridicule and/or criticize the prophet or Islam. How disgraceful. Whatever happened to the First Amendment in the American Constitution which protects Freedom of Speech? The First Amendment was ignored by this Dhimmi President whose job it is to DEFEND the Constitution. Should this ‘Manchurian Candidate’ Obama be re-elected in November, you can kiss the world’s foremost democracy goodbye with the rest of the democratic world soon to follow.

  2. Howard Lauther

    During my own long life, it seems that every time I hear someone like Mr. Evensen jump upon the soapbox marked “It’s the principle of the thing”, there’s usually nothing else lying around that’s worth standing upon. Blood can flow in all directions and buildings be reduced to rubble, but if it occurred in the name of principle – well, that’s all that really matters. Whose principle? Immaterial, of course. As long as it’s been firmly established as such, then it must stand like an impenetrable fort, despite the fact that it defies the slightest trace of common sense from leaking through. Mr. Evensen embraces the First Amendment as a hallowed principle, for it houses our freedoms of speech and religion, but he neglects to say anything about the enormous grief those two freedoms have provided us when they are used by people who have no conscience and who only want to satisfy their own urgings. Pontificating about principle is a nice, leisurely exercise – except when there are more important things at stake.

  3. mohokat

    A prevue of coming attractions from King Barry. This is exactly what to expect from obama. Rule not govern.

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