You are both right, but your analysis is trivial and his is slightly less so.
A fuller way of combining both would be:
The showing of a movie, specifically to rile up people who would otherwise not have cared, is the application of power to send a political message.
Yes - the message is being generated by a system that uses religion as a major ideology. ~~The system is also populated and maintained~~ edit: The system contains both actors actors who care little for religion, but completely for economic/political/personal gain, and actors who are acting irrationally under a set of irrational data.
Either way, this chain of thought is more likely to immediately generate a flame war, in a thread mourning the loss of Vile Rat.
And all of them are tools to move atoms around! So it's not really about power or religion, but atoms! This is an example of false reductionism: just because it is about one thing does not mean it's not also about a subtype of that thing. Superficial though my analysis might be, it is at least not contrary to fact.
Religion is in the chain of events, but it's just a carrier. That's why I think it's not about religion but totally related to the political tensions. They just needed an excuse to take violent actions. It could have been something totally different for the exact same effect, an official insulting an inhabitant, a driver doing a hit and run, a cultural misunderstanding...
I'll admit my original reply was a little bit of an aphorism for the sake of the punchline.
Yes, why on earth would a population subjected to invasion and ongoing occupation by imperial western powers find an attack on their culture objectionable and representative of their entire daily situation?
MUST BE THOSE IGNORANT SAVAGES AND THEIR MYSTICAL NONSENSE
Because the US (or any other "imperial western power") has invaded Egypt and Libya? Damn, I should start watching the news a bit more!
Or are you suggesting that the invasions of Iraq / Afghanistan can be seen as "attacking their culture"? If that's your point, you've actually demonstrated that the root cause is in fact religion, because there really isn't much else that Afghanistani and Iraqi culture share with Egypt and Libya..
How else do you define a group led by royalists and other rich western expats, backed by the IMF and armed and supported by NATO, taking over the country and installing themselves as a puppet government in service to western interests? Is a South American coup not a US assassination just because the CIA only supplied the training, money, coordination, and intel and someone else pulled the trigger?
Gaddafi was hardly a beacon of good government, but debt-slavery to the IMF and open doors to the ransacking of national resources by western corporations is hardly an improvement. Not to mention little things like the incidents of ethnic cleansing.