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This question refers to protests, sometimes erupting into lethal violence, as in the 2015 Paris attacks in response to cartoons published in a French satirical weekly and in the 2012 Benghazi attack against two American government facilities in Benghazi, Libya, purportedly in response to the film The Innocence of Muslims which was derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslim leaders and organizations worldwide, even in countries that restrict the publication of such offensive material, vigorously condemned these instances of violence. The great majority of Muslim Americans and many Muslims elsewhere affirm the right to freedom of expression.

In addition, it is important to stress that these violent reactions have generally been fueled by political issues that compounded anger at the offensive images. Investigations into the Benghazi attack found that it was in fact long planned by militants, while the Paris attacks were the work of militants who may have been trying to recruit French Muslims to al-Qaeda by creating an incident that would isolate them from other French people. In both cases, the offensive representations served as a pretext.

At the same time, many Muslims find the lack of respect in many secular societies for sacred symbols, regardless of the religion involved, to be offensive. The Prophet Muhammad respected other religions and their sacred symbols, and the Qur’an prohibits reviling the followers of other religions and that which they hold sacred.

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