What's really behind anti-Western protests?

A protester picks up a tear gas canister to throw it back to the police during a demonstration near the US embassy in Cairo September 14, 2012.

Credits: REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih


OTTAWA - Defence Minister Peter MacKay is casting doubt on whether an amateur online video mocking Islam's prophet Mohammed really sparked spontaneous, violent protests in Cairo and across the world this week.

"No, I think these are simmering issues that we have to continue to try and address," MacKay said in Toronto on Friday. "There are tensions in these regions - some of which have nothing to do with the Western world quite frankly - for centuries."

Meantime, Yigal Carmon, president of the Middle East Media Research Institute, says he believes Islamist leaders have orchestrated anger over the "Innocence of Muslims" video.

"It's an attempt to bully America, maybe, to have this new initiative of 'blasphemous' speech to be prohibited in the West," Carmon told QMI Agency on Friday.

Carmon's fears appear to be bolstered by an English statement posted on the Muslim Brotherhood website on Thursday, calling for laws against "crimes and assaults on Muslim sanctities."

"Certainly, such attacks against sanctities do not fall under the freedom of opinion or thought," the Muslim Brotherhood said.

Others point to the original goal of the protests in Cairo planned long before the controversial video was well known.

"Al Gamaa Al Islamiyya, a US-designated terrorist organization, announced weeks ago that it would protest in front of the US Embassy on 9/11 to demand the release of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind cleric mastermind of the first World Trade Center Bombing in 1993," said David Schenker and Eric Trager with the Washington Institute of Near East Policy.

In a New York Daily News op-ed this week, they say the Mohammed video may have bolstered the number of protesters' who showed up in Cairo Tuesday, but didn't cause the protest.

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