We have a right to feel affronted at this weekend's demonstrations against an obscure film by an American, entitled The Innocence of Muslims.
It clearly does not reflect the views of the majority of Australians who have welcomed Muslims from many parts of the Islamic world. In order to continue the largely harmonious relationship between Muslims and the rest of us their responsible leaders should demand an end to these violent demonstrations, which only serve to undermine the goodwill that this country has extended to Muslim immigrants and refugees in places like Wollongong. Holding Australians responsible for overseas films or cartoons by means of violent demonstrations is not only unacceptable; it is counterproductive.
After all the efforts of the United States and other western states like Australia, including military interventions that have cost many lives, evidently the precarious relationship between the world of Islam and the West remains steeped in suspicion and distrust.
Indonesian Muslim leaders have urged their followers not to react to the film but we can be sure that radical groups will be out to exploit it, so Australian tourists will need to take care.
This film's alleged blasphemous contents have introduced another irritant into America's uneasy relationship with the world of Islam. With a presidential election in two months, Mitt Romney's pledge to strengthen support for Israel's hawkish government is not helping the West's position, including in Afghanistan.
The Arab Spring is rapidly taking on a bleak autumn appearance, especially in Europe where EU nations' capacity to cope with a far greater flow of refugees that we are confronting, has diminished. In these circumstances we could have done without the film.
One thing it makes clear - the Arab Spring has not led to greater tolerance or understanding despite our hopes that democratic change would result in greater tolerance.
If anything, the Muslim world is more sensitive today than ever before, despite the efforts of some countries, to prevent outbursts of violence.
Inevitably, this provocative film has made Afghanistan a more dangerous place for ISAF troops, with new attacks being launched by the Taliban.
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The recent APEC leaders' conference at Vladivostok hardly attracted a lot of attention; not least because our Prime Minister Julia Gillard was forced by the sudden death of her father to withdraw from it.
There may have been some progress towards free trade, but the meeting did not address the worrying issue of peacekeeping at a time when there are several problems over disputed islands, north of Japan, south of Japan and, of course, in the South China Sea.
The time is surely right for Australia to launch a diplomatic campaign to counter this trend. I have in mind a conference of all the major powers, with an agenda to reduce costly defence spending, diverting the considerable savings into the eradication of poverty and disease among the more than 300 million Asians who continue to languish in squalor.
It would be a great initiative to divert the world towards greater peace, justice and harmony.
James Dunn is an author with four decades of experience as a foreign affairs official and with UN agencies.