Friday, June 15, 2007

Screening of Islam vs. Islamists [and vs. PBS] at the Writers Guild Theater in Los Angeles

Where on Earth are the moderate Muslims? Thanks to PBS, they’re not on public television.
-Deroy Murdock,
National Review

Wednesday, I happened to catch Dennis Prager mention a free screening of Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, Thursday evening. I emailed in for tickets, and within moments, my name was added to a shrinking list.

I must say, my schedule has been packed (hence, the light blogging and blog-visits) and this opportunity coming up was throwing a monkey wrench into the tire of my already tired schedule. I almost talked myself out of going, being weary and being unsuccessful in finding a last minute friend (regardless of political affiliation, although I did check in with the conservative choir first) who would be free to attend.

My Thursday had one thing after another pretty much overlapping. I arrived at work late and left early. As it turned out, leaving work early wasn't necessary, as I arrived at theater in under 15 minutes (they even had free parking!).

The film focuses on the lives of four Muslim 'moderates': Naser Khader, a Danish lawmaker; Mohamed Sifaoui, a French journalist; Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, an American physician; and Tariq Fatah, a Toronto-based TV host [looks like a blogger as well- check it out!]. All four are portrayed as valiant protagonists working against the influence of extremist imams and terrorists who are trying to hijack Islam for their own purposes. Jasser explains, "I wouldn't be taking this time away from my family and my profession…unless I felt that I was trying to struggle for the soul of my faith."
Dr. Jasser, Frank Gaffney, and Martyn Burke gave a Q & A right after the airing, which I managed to record with my digital camera (at one point, I tried to get a picture with my phone camera in one hand, digital camera on movie mode still recording in the other). Their message and the message of their film is an important one. A message that, most of all, needs to be heard in the Arab world to counter the propaganda of the puritanical extremists who are making the loudest noise today, and defining Islam, in the eyes of the world. It is pathetically funny that the clerics in the film characterize themselves as the moderate majority, and Muslims such as Jasser as the radical, dangerous extremists.

Separation of Mosque and State

The power and influence of the wahhabist and sulafist fundamentalists who want to impose Sharia Law upon the entire world (of interest in the film is Saudi money funneled into the building of mosques in Chicago and elsewhere in the U.S. for the purposes of promoting wahhabism- basically indoctrinating our own citizens against our culture and way of life), who all but demand for a parallel court and society to be imposed upon Muslims in western societies, is quite shocking (and when those European societies allow it to occur- such as here, here, and here).

One of the problems that comes through in the film, is the marriage of politics and religion amongst the radical Islamists, who demand all should live by Sharia Law. It is the "perfect state"; after all,
“To make laws — only a god does that. And there is only one god in Islam, and that is Allah,” says Slimane Abderrahmane, an Algerian-Danish alumnus of al Qaeda’s terror camps and, later, Guantanamo. “So you’re saying, ‘I’m just like Allah.’ And you can’t do that.”
The moderates in the film, such as Dr. Jasser, deplore how Islamic clerics are dictating how Muslims should feel on issues of foreign policy, rather than confining themselves to matters of personal relationship with God and His Prophet; with simply being a good human being.

Waging Jihad on the "Jihad"

In one part of the film, Tarek Fatah interviews an Imam, who tells him "we should wage jihad on jihad".

I still believe that part of that entails taking the language of legitimacy out of the mouths of the terrorists and calling them for what they are: hirabahists. Not Jihadists, which is how terrorists want to perceive themselves as being; just as they wish to convince fellow Muslims and the world at large that we non-Muslims are in a war against Islam.

If we are to win against the hirabah Islamists, we need to nurture an alliance with Muslim moderates; not alienation. Rather than attacking the flaws we see inherent in their religion, we should focus more on attacking the interpretation of that religion by radical, militant, fundamentalist, extremists engaged in hirabah against the world, including against Muslims who are not them. Courageous Muslims such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, at risk to his own life and the lives of his family, are trying to speak out against the radicals (who, ironically label Muslims like Jasser as radicalized), for, as a good Muslim, he is engaged in the Jihad of fighting for the soul of his religion.

It is utterly baffling to me, that PBS refuses to air this film. If nothing else, it encourages the very notion from the politically correct, multiculturalist left who insist that Islam is a religion of peace. I guess the fact that there are Muslims who wish to join the rest of the world in modernity do not qualify as "Muslim moderates" who speak for Islam.

For those who couldn't be there and for those who wish to hear and to help spread the message...

The following is just a 2 minute introductory audio by Martyn Burke, before the screening of the film:

I know this is long, at just over an hour; but, friends, it's well-worth the listen to:

See the Trailer at What the Crap?
Hugh Hewitt transcript of interview with Frank Gaffney Audio
Review at Libertas
Review at Pajamas Media

Excellent link by Andrew Sullivan to Rod Dreher's review. It's a good "food for thought" read.

Other noteworthy past blogposts on the matter:
Ace of Spades
Blogmeister USA
Chatterbox Chronicles
Gates of Vienna
Little Green Footballs (elaborated and updated on by Frank Gaffney)
Pajamas Media
The Claremont Institute
The Hedgehog Blog

What you can do:
  1. Call Pat Harrison (president of CPB). 202-879-9600.
  2. Politely thank her for allowing this film to be made.
  3. Request that she clear the film for showing outside of PBS.
Go to Free the Film, for more.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Blogger Mike's America said...

I heard that PBS will allow stations to show the film if they want to. I hope it shows in my area soon.

We've been asking the question: where are the so called moderate Muslims and here they are! You'd think PBS would want to highlight them.

Did they go into PBS's reasons for not wanting to show the film?

Friday, June 15, 2007 8:10:00 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I'm new here. Hugh Hewitt is the person who got me started in blogging back in 2004. I have an interesting thread of email between me and State U. inviting me to a seminar called "Teaching About Islam in the Public Schools."
If you go to my blog, look in the April archives and scroll down to April 26 and 27. Your comments there are still welcome.

Friday, June 15, 2007 8:59:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

mike, when you get a chance to, take a look at the video. About PBS airing it, from Frank Gaffney:

Last Wednesday, the Oregon Public Broadcasting Service announced it had reached an agreement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that seemed, at first blush, to represent a breakthrough: The national Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) would no longer prevent the airing of a film CPB commissioned as part of its "America at a Crossroads" series called "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center." Instead, PBS' Oregon stations would make it available to the more than 350 other affiliates across the country.
As one of the film's co-executive producers, I began to receive a number of congratulatory messages from all over the country. Most were from people who had followed the saga of this documentary about moderate Muslims who have courageously challenged co-religionists known as Islamists -- adherents to a totalitarian political ideology seeking to dominate the Muslim faith and, in turn, the world. Like innumerable editorialists, bloggers and ordinary citizens around the country, the authors of these messages had been frustrated and outraged when PBS and its Washington flagship, WETA, culminated months of efforts to alter and then censor "Islam vs. Islamists" by refusing to broadcast it, as planned, as part of the "Crossroads" series rolled out last month. They assumed the Oregon announcement meant national distribution was imminent.
Unfortunately, the CPB's arrangement with the Oregon PBS means no such thing. Far from the treatment accorded other "Crossroads" series programs -- nationwide broadcast by the Public Broadcasting Service, in prime-time with a substantial promotional budget -- "Islam vs. Islamists" would simply be "made available" to PBS stations. Maybe some would decide to run it over the next few months. Maybe they would do so at 3 a.m. or Sunday afternoons when practically no one is watching. There are no guarantees of pick-up in any, let alone all, major markets.
Worse yet, the Oregon distributors have announced they will accompany the film with the equivalent of a consumer warning label -- a "discussion" that will provide "context" for viewers. Presumably, this means the sort of "context" our film's critics at PBS and WETA kept trying to impose on us: Changes they believed would make it, in their words, less "one-sided" (read, fairer to the Islamists) and less "alarmist."

If past practice is any guide, those recruited to provide such "balance" will likely be representatives of organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA). Though these groups are well-known Saudi-funded, pro-Islamist fronts, their views were exclusively and highly sympathetically featured in a documentary called "The Muslim Americans." PBS seemed to have no reservations about airing this wholly one-sided film during the "Crossroads" series roll-out in April.
In short, now that widespread criticism has made it impossible to sustain PBS' suppression of "Islam vs. Islamists," the anti-Islamist Muslims who are its subjects are to be remanded to decidedly second-class coverage. Call it CPB's version of the "Rosa Parks treatment."
Recall that Rosa Parks could have got to her job via public transportation -- as long as she "knew her place" and agreed to ride in the back of the bus. So, too, moderate Muslims can have their stories, as recorded in a film produced with some $675,000 in public monies, shown on the public airwaves -- in at least a few locations at some point in time.
But these heroic figures must know their place, too. And their place is not in prime time, nor national distribution. Only Islamists and their apologists are entitled to front-of-the-bus treatment from those like Robert MacNeil (the host of the "Crossroads" series and producer -- thanks to a sweetheart deal -- of "The Muslim Americans" show), Sharon Percy Rockefeller (wife of one senator and daughter of a former senator, Jay Rockefeller and Charles Percy, respectively, and president of WETA) and the handful of others responsible for PBS' rejection of "Islam vs. Islamists."
If ever there were a time when the American people are entitled to the most comprehensive presentation possible of information concerning the struggle for the soul and future of Islam, this should be it. After all, last week a Pew Research poll found roughly a quarter of the Muslim-American population thinks suicide bombing is legitimate in at least some circumstances. An even larger percentage claimed not to believe that Arabs perpetrated the attacks of on America of September 11, 2001.
The particular irony is that the whole idea behind "America at a Crossroads" was that it was intended to offer the American people 20 programs featuring differing viewpoints and a variety of stories that would, taken together, help inform the public about the post-September 11 world. This creative vision demands that the experiences and warnings of authentically moderate, pro-democratic and tolerant Muslims be treated at least as favorably as the portrayal of those in the Muslim community determined to stifle their voices. Certainly, public broadcasting should not be party to such suppression.
A bipartisan group of legislators have called for prompt, national distribution of "Islam vs. Islamists." They have been as impressed by the quality of the film PBS doesn't want you to see as they are outraged by how people entrusted with responsibility for the public airwaves have handled it and those involved in its production. The "Rosa Parks" treatment is not what they have in mind, what the courageous anti-Islamist Muslims deserve, nor what will be acceptable to the national audience that expects to be able to view this documentary without further delay.

Friday, June 15, 2007 9:42:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Welcome patterns of ink! I've seen you somewhere before. Whose blog? Jennifer's?

Thanks for the tip on your posts.

Hugh Hewitt is also one of my primary influences on entering the blogosphere. I remember him posting on free blog services, mentioning blogspot, among other choices. Took me a while, still, until I finally opened my own blog, inspired by Ex-Donkey Blog, who seemed much like me. I then thought, I can do this.

I just realized earlier today that I passed my 2 year mark as a blogger.

Friday, June 15, 2007 9:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Darn, Wordsmith. I wish this had come up last week. I'm going to have to save the link to this article and watch this when my daughter isn't here! I will watch it, I promise, and I'll get back to you when I do. Right now I only have time to visit a few of my favorite bloggers, then it's off on a shopping trip with my daughter. Every day of her vacation will be pretty busy except for two, when she's visiting friends. I should be able to watch it then. I'm looking forward to it!

Congratulations on you blogging anniversary! :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:50:00 AM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

This is such an abortion on toast. PBS and, moreover, CPB should have ALL funding PERMANENTLY CURTAILED by the US government. I recommend a bake sale to purchase Greyhound bus tickets to Canada for all CPB staffers.


Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:07:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

There's no doubt that removing the program, which they had already paid for with taxpayer funds, from the regular prime time lineup is unconscionable.

I don't know when anyone will have the guts to take on PBS. Apparently, they can use taxpayer funds to promote the left's values. Imagine what they would say if Rush Limbaugh were given a weekly program funded by the taxpayers?

Saturday, June 16, 2007 7:00:00 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Mike's America: Omigawd, can you imagine? Let the bloodletting and screeching commence!


Sunday, June 17, 2007 8:32:00 AM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

It would be fun to watch BZ.

Sunday, June 17, 2007 5:58:00 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Finally we (Walt and I) got around to watching this. I'm glad PBS changed their minds regarding their completely unreasonable decision to not watch the film. I do hope that when it is aired Walt and I will have a chance to see it. We don't watch PBS as a rule, so I don't know if we will know when it airs.

It is good to know that their are Muslims here that do not agree with the terrorists, but we do need to here from them. I hope this film will make a difference, because quite frankly, Muslims worry me. We can't tell the good guys from the bad ones! Of course that's stating the obvious, but the more of them that speak out the better it will be for everyone.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 5:06:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks for taking the time to watch. I realize it is an hour long, and not as exciting as being there. Something is lost in the energy of the moment.

I also fear that many of my fellow conservatives have pretty much written-off Islam as a religion of intolerance and violence and backward 7th century-thinking. Even if it's true, aknowledging the reality of it doesn't mean one has to abandon the art of diplomacy in helping to encourage the moderate voices within the Muslim community, who wish to see religious reform and who are trying to bring Islam into modernity, without abandoning the love they have their religion.

The physical field of battle isn't the only arena in which this war will we won. We need to make Muslims our allies, and distinguish between the violent radicals and the peaceful moderates. We don't do that by alienating the moderates with inflammatory language like "f**k Islam". It doesn't help.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Fox News is going to show excerpts of the show Saturday night at 9 PM EST

Thursday, June 21, 2007 4:30:00 PM  
Anonymous skye said...

Mike, it is good to know we can depend on Fox News to get a more balanced picture of this issue with Islam.

Wordsmith has a point in the recognizing the benefit of forming relations with moderate muslims is a strategic front in this battle with global terrorism.

Friday, June 22, 2007 8:09:00 PM  

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