Friday, 20 December 2013

Islam vs. Islamism: A PBS documentary that almost got killed

This documentary was posted by Tarek Fatah, who is a well-known critic of Islam and Islamism, a talk-show host based in Canada.  For those not following Islamic issues closely, there is a big and ongoing debate in the community critical of aspects of Islam, as to whether it is right to differentiate between "Islam" and "Islamism": on the one side those who say that "Islam is Islam" (which includes -- ironically, along with many others in the counter-jihad community -- Erdogan, the PM of Turkey); and on the other side those who say that there's the Islam of the majority of peaceful Muslims, and then there's the Islam of extremists, who they call "Islamists".  In its most extreme form the split is: (a) all Muslims are to be suspect because they adhere to an inherently violent religion and (b) Islam is a "Religion of Peace", while Islamists are "hijacking", "twisting", "misunderstanding" or "misrepresenting" it.
I'm rather of the former category, though not at the extreme end of it. That is, the doctrines of Islam -- the Islamic trinity -- are clear and unambiguous, as are the actions of millions of its adherents over its history.  Yet clearly there are many Muslims who don't act in accordance with those tenets. I recall being in northern Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt in 2011, where most people are Muslim. Yet when the call to prayer went out, five times a day, no-one budged: they kept on with whatever they were up to.  In any case, it seems to me that even if there is only "Islam is Islam", nevertheless we ought to act as if there is the split, for that is the only way to counter it, at least so it seems to me.  Quite simply: We can't take on the whole of Islam.  Or, at least, politicians will not do so, and to expect that is simply unrealistic.
That's what led Prince Charles to make his recent statements about Islamism. And the comments on that post illustrate the tensions between the two views, where there are those in camp (a) and those in camp (b) and shades between.
We need, in short, to ally the counter-jihad efforts with those of Muslims such as Fatah, Dr Zuhdi Jassar quoted in the film, who seek to fight the supremacism of Islam, to counter their violent co-relegionists and seek to find within Islam reasons for a more peaceable religion.  For even if their task is Sisyphian, it seems to me it's the only hope to counter the resurgence of an Islam bent on bringing Sharia to the world.
The documentary titled “Islam vs. Islamists,” was produced by ABG Films with $675,000 in public funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It was originally slated to run as part of PBS’ “America at a Crossroads” series. However, after viewing the film PBS executives told the filmmakers that it was “alarmist” and “overreaching” and that PBS would not run it.
The film 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.
Read the rest..