There are many infuriating facts surrounding the tragic deaths of US ambassador to Libya, J Christopher Stevens, and three other American citizens who were killed this week during violent attacks on US diplomatic compounds in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
One is that the violence may have been sparked, at least in part, by an amateur Islamophobic film trailer. The clip, a 14-minute preview of the Innocence of Muslims, was largely unknown until Florida pastor Terry Jones promoted it – the same pastor who caused international outrage when he put a Koran on trial and burned it in March 2011. The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a paedophile, womaniser and a fraud, and is yet another example of cynical Muslim baiting that sparks predictable fury and indefensible violence in the Islamic world.
Another is that once the violence begins, the media focuses on the hateful content of the film, the supposed "clash of civilisations" between east and west, the gory details of the deaths and even the search to find the producer of the film. We need to be informed of all the facts, yes. But this kind of reporting creates more division, instead of a path to peace and sanity.
Let’s be clear: extremists thrive on fear and ignorance. To break the cycle of insults and violence that leads to these tragedies, we need to hear and share the multiple voices of tolerance and compassion – and drown out the hate.
Here is how many of the citizens of Benghazi reacted to the news of the ambassador's death. They came together to send the message that this cycle of violence is not in their name:
If you think it's time that we started bringing people together rather than pushing them apart, add your own message of peace in the comments below and share this with everyone you know.
Sources: BBC, Tampa Bay Times, Washington Post, Guardian, New York Times, Huffington Post