So another internet clever-clogs sets the Middle East on fire: Prophet cartoons, then Koranic book-burning, now a video of robed "terrorists" and a fake desert. The Western-Christian perpetrators then go into hiding (an essential requisite for publicity) while the innocent are asphyxiated, beheaded and otherwise done to death - outrageous Muslim revenge thus "proving" the racist claims of the trash peddlers that Islam is a violent religion.
The provocateurs, of course, know that politics and religion don't mix in the Middle East. They are the same. Chris Stevens, his diplomat colleagues in Benghazi, priests in Turkey and Africa, UN personnel in Afghanistan; they have all paid the price for those "Christian priests", "cartoonists", "film-makers" and "authors" - the inverted commas are necessary to mark a thin line between illusionists and the real thing - who knowingly choose to provoke 1.6 billion Muslims.
When a Danish cartoon in a hitherto unknown newspaper drew a picture of the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb in his turban, the Danish embassy in Beirut went up in flames. When a Texas pastor decided to "sentence the Koran to death", the knives came out in Afghanistan - we are leaving aside the little matter of the "accidental" burning of Koranic pages by US personnel in Bagram. And now a deliberately abusive film provokes the murder of one of the State Department's fairest diplomats.
In many ways, it's familiar territory. In 15th-century Spain, Christian cartoonists drew illustrations of the Prophet committing unspeakable acts. And - just so we don't think we have clean claws today - when a Paris cinema showed a film in which Christ made love to a woman, the building was burned down, one person was killed and the killer was a Christian. …