September 13, 2012

Libyan Embassy Attack: 'Irresponsible Use of Free Speech'

UA Professor of Middle Eastern Studies weighs in on events in Libya

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The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that left four Americans dead, including ambassador Chris Stevens, has provoked strong reactions around the world, including from local communities.

Leila Hudson, associate professor of Middle East studies at the University of Arizona and associate director of the new School for Middle East and North African Studies, says the video that ostensibly led to the attack on the embassy needs to be scrutinized.

“Advertising and promoting a hateful video such as this, designed to bring out the worst in unstable Middle Eastern populations is akin to yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater,” says Hudson. The protection of free speech is paramount, she adds, but people should be held accountable for the irresponsible use of media designed to leverage violence.

Hudson says the video originally surfaced earlier this summer without much notice, but extremist groups orchestrated the release to provoke a reaction. She says this event in Libya illustrates the delicate nature of Middle East conflict dynamics.

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