Security and Protests against Insulting Film

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Manijeh Navidnia
Doctorate Degree in Sociology and Faculty Member, Islamic Azad University

Once upon a time, natural disasters were the most unexpected incidents in human life. Today, however, the interactions and relations in human world are perhaps the most unknown phenomenon throughout the human form of life. Screening a movie, at times, can lead to a great social and political upheaval which, in a certain sense, seems to be unbelievable. Screening a film can also easily turn into an all-out confrontation in which rulers of countries are pitted against their own citizens. Under these circumstances, screening of a film leads to destruction and massacre in a more powerful way than any earthquake. Screening of a film takes the situation toward fighting and conflict. Where is security? Is security present or absent? Has security failed to rein in violence? Has security remained unawares of such issues? This paper aims to provide answers to these and similar questions. It also enumerates three characteristics of “modern security” before leaving the final judgment to readers.

1. Modern and modernism stand in sharp contrast to tradition and everything that is old. The modern is born out of a conflict with tradition; it has no plan to reconcile with the classic manifestations of the past life and is, on the other hand, trying to obliterate whatever belongs to the past. The reason d’être of modernity does not allow for any exceptions in this regard and covers all areas of human life. This confrontation between the new and the old is seen and has been manifested in all kinds of human activities, from the most simple and smallest to such complicated and important activities as choosing the type of food and garments, politics, and religion. The security which was previously defined in relation to conflict (namely, on the basis of risks and enemies), has proved to be a very useful companion for modernism. Subsequent to such a way of thinking, reconciliation, compromise, and understanding have been swept aside from the dominant security literature, as a result of which, at least, two world wars have so far broken out. The same literature still governs security. While in theory risk cannot coexist with security, as well as crime with safety, friend with enemy, fighting with friendship, and army with love; in real life, however, they actually coexist in parallel.

2. As communication technology progresses, various aspects of the human life have been divided into soft and hard categories. These denominations actually designate two totally different worlds some examples of which include intellect as opposed to sentiments, and the dream world as opposed to the real world. However, according to the mainstream approach to hardware and software, both of them are “tools” or “wares.” Therefore, the concept of “tool” is no longer limited to material or physical means, but also encompasses spiritual and ethical realms. More importantly, the spiritual part can be made and processed and is of no special value. As this idea has gradually turned into a norm in people’s lives, such concepts as kindness and compassion have turned into salable commodities because sentiments are also considered “tools” which only help a person to achieve his/her goals.

Modern security approaches have also divided the concept of power into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ categories, thus giving birth to such concepts as software and hardware security. The hardware security is currently tantamount to the army and the power arising from military equipment. Meanwhile, software security is associated with education, information, and culture building. Taking advantage of security, in hard or soft forms, had nothing to do with human issues and could not help to reduce bloodshed and massacre. At the same time, the use of soft power was no reason to prove goodwill and civility. At any rate, the dominance of a “tool-based thinking” has caused the “true security” to be forgotten. As a result, security is now configured on the basis of such concepts as violence, war, and conflict. At the same time, most ordinary people do not need to kill, fight against, or overthrow anybody in their ordinary lives in order to experience security -- especially food, medical, job, civil, emotional and other forms of security.

3. A modern human who has already gotten rid of his past lifestyle and traditions, and looks at the entire life through a tool-based approach, does not care for sanctities and considers as insignificant the past differentiation between sacred and unsacred, as well as between valuable and unvaluable. The current performance of mass media is good evidence to this fact. From the viewpoint of modern media, all kinds of disclosures and revelations about personal lives of people, the use of any propaganda method, as well as depiction of all kinds of human behavior (sexual, personal…)  are permissible. In the meantime, those who build or seek security, justify any measure or plan on security grounds in order not to lag behind the process of modernity. They easily break into people’s houses, apprehend whoever their like, declare war and so forth. They also plunder the public property, cause unrest in the city, attack any person and any place, and so on. As a result of ignoring sanctities, talking about security has become associated for ordinary people with terror, fear and concern, while under normal circumstances, it should be harbinger of calm and comfort just like a mother for her child or a physician for his/her patient.

With this perspective in view, the conflicts and contradictions within the concept of “modern security” are so formidable as to obliterate the possibility for reconciliation and civilizational interaction and this is the main reason behind violent protests by those who are opposed to the anti-Islam film. The soft power of “modern security” is such that it may strike human beings like a bolt of lightning at any moment, just in the same way that a sacrilegious film strips human life of hope through its desecrating and insulting approach. The disregard of “modern security” for sanctities is so profound that any measure taken by a group of people can potentially inflict pain on another group, and this is exactly what the producers of the insulting film have done. Perhaps, it is time to look for a substitute for the concept of “modern security.”

*Manijeh Navidnia can be reached at:

Key Words: Security, Protests, Insulting Film, Modern Security, Conflicts and Contradictions, Navidnia

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