Of films and fear
Last week's controversy over the NYPD's showing of the documentary "The Third Jihad," which I narrated, has brought horrendous distortion of the film and my body of work against radical Islam. It seems obvious that The New York Times, and in its wake the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg, is buying into blatant inaccuracies peddled by the Council on American-Islamic Relations — a group named in federal testimony as linked to the terrorist organization Hamas and one to which the FBI has broken off all ties.
Let's start with the Times' most outright error: As evidence for the charge that "The Third Jihad" paints most American Muslims as extremists, it reported that the film (that is, me, narrating it) says, "This is the true agenda of Islam in America." In fact, it says, "This document shows the true agenda of much of Muslim leadership here in America."
More, the film opens with the text: "This is not a film about Islam. It is about the threat of radical Islam. Only a small percentage of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims are radical."
The Times also fails to note that I am an observant and devout Muslim, that the practices and pillars of Islam are a central part of my life. I doubt its editors — eager to paint themselves as the righteous defenders of a victimized American Muslim minority — bothered to view the documentary before penning their editorial, headlined "A Hateful Film."
The facts outlined in "The Third Jihad" are almost entirely based on documents submitted into evidence by federal prosecutors in the largest terrorism-financing trial in American history, US v Holy Land Foundation et al. Those documents show the common Muslim Brotherhood origins of CAIR and many of the other groups courted by most of the US media and many government officials, especially since 9/11.
The Muslim Brotherhood may have vast differences with al Qaeda on tactics, but they share the same Islamist, global goals.
The point is not that the small Islamist minority could ever take over the United States, but rather that they pose as moderates as they seek to weaken our advocacy of liberty while Islamists take over Muslim-majority nations abroad and drown out other, genuinely moderate Muslim voices here at home. The imbroglio over the film shows how effective they are at portraying criticism of Islamism as a criticism of all Islam and Muslims.
One of the chief ways that radical Islamists across the globe silence anti-Islamist Muslims is to publicly push them outside of Islam, to declare them non-Muslims, not part of the community (ummah), and so subject them to takfir (declaring them apostates). That is what the vicious distortions about this film do to my work and the work of so many others within the House of Islam who are trying to publicly take on the American Islamist establishment.
Ironically, this slander is in keeping with the Jan. 25 post at an al Qaeda-used outlet, Al-Fida, which incites readers to keep me, "the devil" (Iblis) away from the Syrian opposition, citing among a litany of supposed apostasies from Islam, including my allegiance to the US and its military.
I participated in the documentary because we Muslims need to have a true jihad against the radicals who seek to hijack our faith. In this country, millions of us cannot be represented by any single leader or lobby; we are far too ideologically diverse.
Political Islam is the lifeblood of groups like CAIR; they will never publicly acknowledge its incompatibility with western liberalism and Americanism. Were Americans ever to finally become educated to the slippery slope between nonviolent Islamism (political Islam) and Islamist militancy, the legitimacy of these Muslim-Brotherhood-legacy groups would evaporate.
In fact, many of us who have long sought to take on the Islamist establishment in America formed the American Islamic Leadership Coalition, a group Mayor Bloomberg and the Times would do well to reach out to in the future before trying to apostatize any movies narrated by observant Muslims.