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In violence over anti-Muslim video, a new world disorder

Welcome to our new world, where no one is in control – neither the West of its social media nor Arab rulers of their liberated subjects. This is a combustible mix that goes beyond the recent anti-Muslim video to the overall message of Western-shaped globalization.

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Protesters take part in a demonstration near the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 14. They condemned an anti-Muslim video, made in California. Op-ed contributor Nathan Gardels writes: 'Sending warships, loaded with weapons, to the region can’t undo what Facebook and YouTube, loaded with messages, have done.'

Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

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The events of recent days in the Middle East only forewarn of future turmoil as the democratization of the media in the West meets the political awakening in the Arab world. 

The now-marginalized children of Facebook may have inaugurated the Arab Spring, which unleashed – some say liberated – anti-Western voices and actors long crushed by brutal autocrats. But now it is YouTube’s turn to roil the region. A 14-minute preview of a movie called “The Innocence of Muslims” – posted by a marginal Florida minister on what he refers to as “Judge Muhammad Day” (9/11) – is setting the region aflame as its spreads across the Web.

Welcome to our new world, where no one is in control – neither the West of its social media nor Arab rulers of their liberated subjects. This is a combustible mix.

Anything, no matter what the production value, from home videos of pets to porn to blasphemy, can go up on the Web without curation or editing. In the free Middle East, anti-Western groups are either now tolerated because the mainstream, including the new rulers, shares their views or because the new democratic states have yet to establish their monopoly over violence that makes them truly sovereign.

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