Saturday, October 20, 2007

Muslims, Terrorism, Islam, PBS, and
"Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics"

I keep telling myself that, as the current president of the United States said, "Islam is a peaceful religion." Several times:"Peaceful" and "Islam" are words that don't seem to fit well together, with the daily car bomb scores echoing on the news, Iran's leaders commending Chancellor Hitler's Jewish policy and talking about obliterating Israel, and a high probability that Bhutto's convoy was bombed by at least one suicide bomber from a nut-case Islamic group.

I'll admit I'm biased. I want to believe that
  • Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not the best that Islam has to offer
  • Islam is not a bizarre, dangerous remnant from the days of the Frankish Kingdom, Beowulf, Prince Shôtoku and the Tang Dynasty.
I found three more outfits, and a film, that let me keep believing that Islam and the Information Age can get along.

Three Outfits

The Free Muslims Coalition has a statement about terrorism which is refreshingly straightforward: "The Free Muslims Coalition believes that there can NEVER be a justification for terrorism." (from "Issues / Terrorism") They also have a remarkably perceptive view of the place of democracy in the Middle East: "The Free Muslims Coalition strongly supports the promotion of democracy in the Middle East. However, the Coalition cautions that imposing democracy on the Middle East without first promoting secularism and destroying terrorism may lead to the creation of Islamic extremist states that will ultimately reject the democracy that brings them to power." (from "Issues / Democracy")

Muslims Against Terrorism (M-A-T) claims to be the "First Anti-Terrorism NGO in the World for Global Peace and Justice / (Founded in Calgary on January 11, 1998) puts its Mission Statement right under the home page titles: "To be the leading Muslim organization in the world for creating awareness about the dangers of terrorism and it's various causes such as oppression, exploitation and injustice, and unite people to stop terrorism."

Sounds good. And, since M-A-T says "We Muslims strongly condemn the American aggression and cruelty in Iraq and elsewhere...." I'm a little surprised that we haven't heard more about this very socially-conscious organization.

M-A-T also should do its homework, though, when it makes statements about other religions. On the same FAQ page cited above, they say: "The difference between Islam and other religions is that the Islam provides complete and specific guidance to its followers in all possible aspects of life, while the other religions provide guidelines only in a few aspects of life."
start digression
I'm a devout Catholic, and have some familiarity with Church teachings. The Church doesn't cover details like how often to floss your teeth or whether cars are moral or not. On the other hand, there are rules for how to run your business and how to be an employer or an employee (2426-2436, a husband (1610, 1615, 1659), a wife (1605, 1659), a parent (2221-26), a child (2214-20). We're even told how to get ready for death (1014). The Catechism (official English edition) is a good starting point. Those four-digit numbers are paragraph references in the Catechism. Here are some more aspects of life that the Church spells out:
  • Government of nations and other communities (1877-1927, 2213)
  • Marriage (1601-1666)
  • Family (1655-58, 1625-1666, 1914, 2201-2233, 2436, 2685)
  • Education 1906, 2221-24, 2228-30
In each case, those references are just a start.
end digression
Islam for Today's "Muslims against Terrorism" makes the position of Islam for Today very clear.

Islam for Today uses quotes from the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed ("By God, he is not a true believer, from whose mischief his neighbors do not feel secure" and "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.") and a link to "Insights from Imam Tamman Adi of the Islamic Cultural Center of Eugene, Oregon."

There's more on that page, but what jumped out at me was a "memo to Usama bin Laden:" "'I would rather live in America under Ashcroft and Bush at their worst, than in any "Islamic state" established by ignorant, intolerant and murderous punks like you and Mullah Omar at their best.'" ("A thought-provoking, controversial, pre-war article by Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D., February 12, 2003")

One Film

Finally, "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics," "follows moderate Muslims who have challenged the "Islamists" who espouse a more radical view of their religion. The film shows the Islamists advocating, among other things, the imposition of Sharia law on Muslims in the West, the stoning of women who commit adultery, and even violence and terrorism."

The Public Broadcasting System bankrolled the film. When they viewed it, it was taken out of their "America at a Crossroads" series. The PBS chiefs running "America at a Crossroads" told the filmmakers that the film, called "Islam vs. Islamists" at that point, was "alarmist" and "overreaching." PBS wouldn't run it.

I do see PBS's point. The film's producers, Martyn Burke, Frank Gaffney, and Islamism expert Alex Alexiev, tracked moderate Muslims in key positions:
  • Denmark - Politician Naser Khader
  • France - Filmmaker Mohammed Sifaoui
  • Canada - Talk-show host Tarek Fatah
  • Chicago, Illinois - Former Nation of Islam member Edmond Abdul Hafeez
  • Flint, Michigan - Sheikh Kabbani, the imam
    who warned State Department officials of Osama bin Laden's terrorism influence three years before the Sept. 11 attacks
I suppose the Flint imam was "alarming:" he was trying to raise the alarm in Washington.

A Wisconsin-born Muslim living in Arizona, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, says, "The cancer that is within our community is I don't believe the majority," in the film "I think it's a minority, it's a minor, minor, minor, minority that are radicalized or violent but the majority I believe look at the lens of politics through an Islamist lens.

"If we give them and let them handle the mantle of religion that they seek to exploit for their own geo-political issues all over the globe, then we are really going to lose this war."

Maybe the film is alarmist, after all. But there are times and places for alarm, and one of them is now.

I'm going to be watching "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics" in a little less than two hours. It's airing at 9 p.m. ET today, on the FOX News Channel.

A DVD of the complete "Islam v. Islamist" DVD is available at about "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:"
  1. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Denmark
  2. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Canada
  3. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Canada - Women
  4. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Chicago
  5. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Michigan
  6. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" Arizona
  7. "Inside Islam: Faith vs. Fanatics:" France
Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred


Mohamed said...


May be you're the person number 1 Million who says that there is connection between Islam and Terrorism.

But what is your number between who really thought about what they say?!!!

Check my blog, you may hear a new thing from a Muslim.


Brian H. Gill said...


To clarify my own view: I think there's a connection between the sort of Islam that Osama bin Laden claims to believe and terrorism. The man says so, and I am inclined to believe him.

On the other hand, it is clear that there are Muslims who claim that Islam is not intrinsically violent, and they seem to have a point. The television series makes in clear that Islamic terrorists do not represent the entirety of Islam.

And, I have expressed the hope that most Muslims are about as sensible as everyone else: and on the whole prefer to get on with their lives, rather than engage in some sort of war, holy or otherwise.

Brian H. Gill said...

Back again.

Mohamed, you've got four blogs. I'm guessing that you were referring to the one titled " Islam & Muslims (The truth).

The most recent post, as of October 29, 2007, was "I'm terrorist (P. I)."

I'm sorry, but this is hardly new to me. I'm in my mid-fifties, and the status of the Palestinian people has stayed about the same since I started paying attention, sometime in the mid-sixties.

I am going to presume to compare some of my ancestors to the Palestinians. I'm half Irish: and so have a particular attitude toward the English occupation of Eire. Henry VIII is not one of my favorite people.

On the other hand, the deplorable acts of the Irish Republican Army made me as close to being ashamed to be Irish as it's possible to be.

Now, what has this to do with the Palestinians?

The Irish were under the heel of foreigners. And still are, it's been argued.

The Palestinians say that they are under the heel of foreigners. And, that may be so.

But, just as I denounce the terrorist acts of my fellow-Irishmen, however far removed, I cannot say that it's fine to be a terrorist because you have a quarrel with the Jews.

Ethical questions aside, it's a losing battle.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.