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There is an old English proverb; “The mob has many heads but no brains.”
In the last two weeks there have been a series of brainless mobs in the Muslim world protesting a blasphemous film. Many of these protests have turned violent and resulted in several deaths
The film is called the Innocence of Muslims. Along with being offensive to Muslims for referring to Muhammad as a pervert and many other blasphemous things, the movie is also an affront to anyone who has any respect for the art of cinema.
The film appears to have been shot entirely on green screen, ad-libbed and done all in one take.
It seems ridiculous for anyone to protest such a frivolous movie. But once you consider the power of an unruly crowd, then you realize how easily rational people can be driven to do irrational things.
Most people have been involved in the social phenomena of a crowd. Whether it is in a school cafeteria or a sporting event, the herd mentality is visible in the crowd.
Even though groups consist of different individuals often with different motives, they tend to move in the same direction.
In order to fit into a crowd or group, people may choose to do things that go against their better judgment.
This is fine as long as a crowd is coerced into doing something silly, but when a group is persuaded to do something dangerous, the outcome can be scary.
The 2011 riots in the U.K. are a prime example of a crowd turning into a chaotic and violent mob.
This tragedy began with an angry protest over a perceived injustice.
A crowd in Tottenham gathered around a police department and demanded answers for the shooting of a suspect.
The relatively peaceful protest became more unruly. The police were heavily outnumbered and completely unprepared for the crowd. As soon as the crowds realized this, they slipped into unfettered chaos.
The looting and general violence that took place was senseless and irrational. It had nothing to do with the protest and only existed because of the irrational behavior that was masked by the herd instinct.
The Tottenham riots were leaderless and random. The riots in the Middle East were organized by political leaders.
In Egypt, the film was heavily publicized on two Islamic TV stations, and in other countries, Islamic clerics publicly denounced the movie.
For the leaders of Pakistan, it is politically profitable to defend the honor of Islam so the government of Pakistan organized a national holiday and a protest.
When the protest got out of control, it caused the death of 19 people.
Under the wrong circumstances, a group of people can become a violent mob.
Riots and mob violence can be prevented through responsibility and critical thinking.
As long as corrupt leaders exist, blind obedience is intolerable.