If radical Islam is to be countered in North America and Europe it seems that it will take much more than military force and positive education. The key to a successful resistance against jihad is quite likely to be found in the efforts of moderate Muslims who resist the Islamic fascists inside their own communities. Thankfully there are a number of courageous Muslims who are willing to make this very dangerous effort in the West.
The 2007 documentary film Islam vs. Islamists: Muslims Against Jihad, produced by Canadian novelist and veteran documentary filmmaker Martyn Burke, tells the story of these moderate Muslims and their efforts to resist radical Wahabbism. (Wahabbism is the radical Muslim sect that is the force behind the most militant expressions of Islam.) The story of attacks upon moderate Muslims by Muslims is very troubling. It is most troubling because Westerners have little or no grasp of the real dangers inherent in this courageous Muslim stance. This two-disc documentary ought to be required viewing for everyone who wants to understand this important struggle for the future of Islam.
I believe the West is not only ill-informed about Islam but we fear opposing the radical voices of Wahabbism lest we be guilty of intolerance and bigotry. The protection of tolerance and freedom actually requires us to be vigilant. Filmmaker Martyn Burke has given us one of the finest resources I have seen to counteract our malaise. The tragedy is that Burke’s excellent documentary has itself been overtly controversial. This should not be since Burke is not a political partisan in any meaningful sense. He is a green-card carrying Canadian and considers himself neither conservative nor liberal. His wife is a member of the ACLU. His concern, in this documentary, is to show how moderate Muslims are being silenced and intimidated by the Islamist extremists. Anyone can easily see that he keeps politics completely out of this series if they view it for themselves.
So what is so controversial about Burke’s documentary? In the spring of 2007 PBS aired a series on post-9/11 America titled “America at a Crossroads.” Originally Burke’s material was to be included in this series but it was cut because it was not completed on time (Burke denies this point) and, more importantly, because it was deemed “alarmist” and non-objective. Having seen the video I have to tell you I think that charge is unadulterated rubbish.
Burke received $700,000 from public funding to make this two-part series. He now regrets this arrangement since the public source then had the power to censure the final product. In an interview dated April 17, 2007, posted at www.frontpagemag.com, Burke explained how the project broke down and why. The real reasons are revealing and, quite frankly, deeply alarming. If you think the freedom of the press is not threatened you should check out this controversy. Whether from the left or the right freedom of press is a freedom that we far too easily surrender, especially in times of conflict.
The documentary portrays the struggle through the stories of a number of moderate Muslims in Denmark, France, Canada and the United States. Each of them has been threatened and several are even required to have body guards 24/7. Burke says, of the project, “We hired a team of journalists, some of the best we could get our hands on, who are reporters from major newspapers in France, Denmark and Toronto. We had a Pulitzer Prize nominee and a woman profiled in the New York Times for the excellence of her team. We were just about making a documentary on this topic but we found ourselves enmeshed in politics unlike I have never seen before.”
All documentaries clearly have a point of view. This is the nature of the genre and everyone knows it. Burke’s point of view was clear to PBS from the start—there are a considerable number of moderate Muslims who are afraid to speak up because of the attacks of Islamists. Burke says PBS wanted his film to become an apology for the Islamists. He says PBS wanted him to represent the Islamists as a more moderate strain of Islam and thus to downplay the real moderate forces in the Muslim world and the West.
So why did PBS finally reject Burke’s film? Their answer is that he would not fire his two partners, Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev. Both partners are political conservatives. This is not in question. PBS argued that Burke (photo right) should have checked out his associates in advance. He said he did not, and would not, blacklist anyone because of their political views even though he is not a conservative. He had known these two partners from covering other stories with them and he believed them to be good journalists. Burke said in 2007 that he had never dealt with a more “politically biased” network than PBS. (He has worked in France, Britain, Canada and the United States for more than two decades.) He said in the April 2007 interview, “It’s just raw politics taking precedence over journalism.” So much for freedom of speech.
This series, rejected by PBS, was finally aired by Fox News. Fox News is not always the best source for both sides of a debate but in this case they showed courage and proved that alternative news sources, both conservative and liberal, do have their place in a free society. You can now buy or rent these two DVDs at Netflix. I assure you that they will open your eyes to understand just how hard it is to really resist radical Islam here in the U.S. You will clearly see the duplicity of Muslim leaders who say one thing to the American press and quite another to their own followers. This is so apparent as to be beyond debate. (Do you know where most all of the money for the huge mosques in your city comes from? What if I told you it was petro-dollars from Saudi Arabia? And what if I told you it was money given based on a compromise reached after the 1979 Wahabbi uprising at Mecca?) We had better wake up and help all the moderate Muslims we can. If this war is about minds and ideas then the trench in which this war will finally be won will be filled by earnest and freedom loving Muslims. In the days ahead I intend to find and support moderate Muslims wherever possible. Through their noble and courageous efforts our long held commitment to freedom can be preserved where it really counts, in our neighborhoods and communities.