Chennai Protest of Innocence of Muslims

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On September 14, 2012, the U.S. consulate in Chennai, India was attacked in response to a YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims as Muslim protesters threw stones and footwear at the building. This event was part of a series of attacks that carried on from September 11, 2012 through September 29, 2014, throughout worldwide Muslim communities. Windowpanes and walls were damaged and 25 people suffered minor injuries.[1]

Chennai, India[edit]

Chennai is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and is the largest industrial and commercial centre in South India and is a cultural, economic and educational hub. As the sixth most populous city in India, has a greater population of approximately 8.9 million people, making it the 31st largest urban area in the world. Tamil is the primary language spoken in Chennai and English is sometimes mixed with Tamil by the white-collar workers.[2] Hindus make up about 81.3% of the city’s population with 9.4% Muslims, 7.6% Christians, and 1.1% Jains as the other major religious groups.[3]

Depiction of Muhammad[edit]

Depictions of Muhammad have long been an issue of concern in the Muslim religion, and many consider it to be blasphemous. While written and oral descriptions are universally accepted by Islam, the Hadith (a supplemental teaching of the Quran) prohibits Muslims from creating any visual representation Muhammed.[4] The biggest concern in this tradition is that an image could promote idolatry.[5] This tradition has been long lasting and the few depictions that do exist throughout Islamic history, Muhammad is veiled or he is represented by symbols such as a flame.[6]

Innocence of Muslims[edit]

The anti-Islamic film that was written and produced by Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, was uploaded in two versions to YouTube in July 2012 under the titles The Real Life of Muhammad and The Muhammad Movie Trailer.[7] The videos were dubbed in the Arabic language and anti-Islamic content was added in post-production without the consent of the actors who starred in the film.[8]

The original script was written about life in Egypt 2,000 years ago but with the overdubbing and heavy use of the phrase “Muhammad,” The New York Times stated: “the trailer opens with scenes of Egyptian security forces standing idle as Muslims pillage and burn the homes of Egyptian Christians. Then it cuts to cartoonish scenes depicting Muhammad as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.”[9]

YouTube eventually blocked the video in Egypt and Libya, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore and India and Turkey, Brazil and Russia soon followed.[10] In September 2012, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and the Pakistani governments blocked YouTube completely in response to it not taking down the video.[11]

State Reaction[edit]

Security was heightened at the US embassy in Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad.[12] Furthermore, the Indian government was quick to discuss the banning of the video and the home ministry forwarded a formal request of the Jammu and Kashmir government to block all webpages where the film is accessible to the director general of Computer Emergency Response Team India for immediate attention.[13]


  1. ^ George, Daniel P (September 14, 2012). "US consulate targeted in Chennai over anti-Prophet Muhammad film". The Times of India. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  2. ^ Siddique, Zahra (2008). Ethnicity, Race and Gender in the Labor Market. ProQuest. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-549-50781-9
  3. ^ "Area and Population Archived 2013-08-30 at the Wayback Machine" (PDF). Government of Tamil Nadu. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  4. ^ T. W. Arnold (June 1919). "An Indian Picture of Muhammad and His Companions". The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 34, No. 195. pp. 249–252. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  5. ^ Eaton, Charles Le Gai (1985). Islam and the destiny of man. State University of New York Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-88706-161-5
  6. ^ Brendan January (1 February 2009). The Arab Conquests of the Middle East. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8225-8744-6. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  7. ^ Zachary Zahos (September 19, 2012). "The Art of Defamation". The Cornell Daily Sun. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  8. ^ Dan Murphy (September 12, 2012). "There-may-be-no-anti-Islamic-movie-at-all". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  9. ^ David D. Kirkpatrick (September 12, 2012). "Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  10. ^ Google Has No Plans to Rethink Video Status, The New York Times, September 14, 2012.
  11. ^ Rory Mulholland, Fresh protests as prophet cartoons fuel Muslim fury, AFP.
  12. ^ George, Daniel P (September 14, 2012). "US consulate targeted in Chennai over anti-Prophet Muhammad film". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
  13. ^ George, Daniel P (September 14, 2012). "US consulate targeted in Chennai over anti-Prophet Muhammad film". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 April 2014.