ANTAKYA, Turkey -- Some Syrian anti-government activists expressed frustration Wednesday that a controversial video belittling the prophet Muhammad is generating more outrage among Arabs than the rising death toll within Syria.
Comments on social media sites by some opposition activists said the protests over the video in Cairo and Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans were killed, epitomize a focus on symbolic and religious issues versus a relative indifference over the desperate plight of Syrian civilians.
"The only thing that seems to mobilize the Arab street is a movie, a cartoon or an insult, but not the pool of blood in Syria," wrote one Syrian activist on Twitter.
Since anti-government protests broke out in March 2011, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by the security forces of President Bashar Assad and rebel forces, according to United Nations figures.
"One thing is clear," tweeted Shakeeb Jabri, a Syrian activist. "Syrians are quite pissed off at those who protested the Mohammad movie and not Assad's shelling of mosques.”
Another activist, known as @SyrianSunnyBoy, offered a tongue-in-cheek suggestion: "Syrian filmmakers should also make [a] film 'insulting' Prophet Mohammed if that would mobilize ppl [sic] in Egypt against [the] embassy of Syria in Cairo."
A Syrian film director, who asked not to be identified by name, wrote on his Facebook page about what he viewed as a double standard.
"You killed an American Ambassador for a silly film but people are dying on the streets, women are being raped, Palestine is gone," he wrote. "All the ignorance and lack of knowledge in the Arab Muslim world is ok. But 'don’t touch the Prophet.'"
Domary, a popular Syrian satirical Facebook page, carried the following commentary:
"The Arab people are emotional.
Films make them laugh.
Films make them upset.
Films make them cry.
Films make them angry and let them go crazy and kill.
But when they see in Syria mosques and churches getting shelled.
Koran books getting burned.
Women being insulted.
It doesn't move them.
Because it is not a film.
We wish that what is happening in Syria was a film.
At least Arabs would do something for us."
-- Rima Marrouch
Photo: Egyptian protesters climb the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, tagging them with graffiti in Arabic that reads "any one but you God's prophet" during protests on Tuesday. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press