Where on Earth are the moderate Muslims? Thanks to PBS, they’re not on public television.
PBS has blocked the broadcast of Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center
. This new documentary — funded with a $675,000 Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) grant — contrasts the ubiquitous bearded, burka-covered Muslim radicals with others seldom seen: men and women who wear Western attire, shave daily, show their female faces, and prosper without slaughtering “infidels.”
While moderate Muslims may appear elsewhere on PBS, Uncle Sam’s TV channel declines to air this compelling, even-handed, and surprisingly tame film that explores the struggle between modern Muslims and their backward brethren. Produced by Canadian filmmaker Martyn Burke and the Center for Security Policy’s (CSP) Alex Alexiev and Frank Gaffney, Islam vs. Islamists is no fire-breathing, Islamophobic screed. While it sympathizes with mellow Muslims targeted by their hotheaded co-religionists, it simply lets individual Muslims speak for themselves, with limited commentary — none of it inflammatory.
Capital HQ — a New York-based public-affairs organization — quickly arranged a sold-out screening of Islam last Tuesday night (after CRC Public Relations had done the same in Washington, D.C,. the week before). Even after benches and folding chairs were dragged in from the Union Square 14-plex’s lobby, guests still clogged the aisles.
The film showcases brave, moderate Muslims like Naser Khader, a Syrian-born Danish legislator who preaches the separation of mosque and state. The mere fact that he votes in Copenhagen’s parliament enrages Muslim zealots.
“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.”
Rather than submit to such Muslim crackpots, Khader fled Copenhagen for a small Danish town. He also requires 24-hour police protection. This is hardly paranoid. During the deadly Muslim overreaction to those newspaper images of Mohammed in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, Danish Muslim fanatic Ahmed Akkari said, “If Khader becomes minister of integration, shouldn’t someone dispatch two guys to blow up him and his ministry?”
The man who videotaped Akkari’s words also appears in “Islam.”
Mohamed Sifaoui, a peaceful Algerian-French journalist, infiltrated a Parisian band of Muslim extremists. Some appeared via hidden camera. Others hammed it up, thinking Sifaoui was shooting an Islamist propaganda and training movie.
Since French TV showed his film, bodyguards have surrounded Sifaoui.
It is highly newsworthy that moderates such as Khader and Sifaoui need security agents to shield them from Allah’s potentially homicidal followers. Nonetheless, PBS has nixed this film.
“Islam vs. Islamists had not completed the production and review process for PBS,” says presenting station WETA’s statement. “They [sic] program still has not.” Despite minor audio glitches, the screened film appeared complete.
The documentary “was irresponsible because the writing was alarmist, and it wasn’t fair,” WETA executive Jeff Bieber has complained. (Full disclosure: I was a panelist on WETA’s Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered.)
Islam is abundantly fair. Those in it, all Muslim, represent themselves. They range from thoroughly relaxed, perfectly patriotic Arizona physician Dr. Zuhdi Jasser to Canadian imam Aly Hindy, who embraces the fatal stoning of adulterers. “It’s not controversial,” he laughs, waving a Koran. “This is Islam.”
Burke claims PBS executives told him to fire his conservative production partners, which he refused to do. WETA’s statement disputes this, adding:
While PBS and CPB were concerned about Mr. Gaffney’s office [sic] role with the CSP a decision was made early on to judge the film on its merits rather than excluding Mr. Gaffney because he runs this conservative advocacy group.
WETA’s communiqué calls the CSP “a right-wing think tank.”
Tariq Fatah also appears in Islam. This Toronto-based TV host calls himself “a 9-to-5 Muslim.” He wears suits and wields no rocket-propelled grenades. Like other Muslims in this picture, he has endured violent attacks from Islamists who detest his joviality.
“These people are opposed to happiness,” he told his Manhattan audience. “And a constitution that mentions the pursuit of happiness is a problem for them.”
Fatah argues that politically correct PBS executives “believe you are a genuine Muslim only if you look like a Muslim.” Sans beards, burqas, and blood in their eyes, Fatah says, PBS officials regard Muslims like him as inauthentic and thus unworthy of consideration.
Gaffney, one of Islam’s executive producers, wants Americans to “raise some hell,” until PBS either shows the film or lets another channel broadcast it. He hopes citizens will call PBS at 703-739-5000 and urge them to air the documentary. FreeTheFilm.net suggests other ways to promote this movie.
“Everyone whose tax dollars went into making this film should have the chance to see it for themselves and make up their own minds,” Frank Gaffney says. “That’s all we ask.”