A new documentary Islam: What the West Needs to Know has recently been released.
An examination of Islam, violence, and the fate of the non-Muslim world, the documentary features numerous experts. Today we have invited three of them to discuss the new film. Our guests are:
Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who has become an ardent Zionist and evangelical Christian. He is the author of Why I Left Jihad. The Root of Terrorism and the Return of Radical Islam.
Serge Trifkovic, a former BBC World Service broadcaster and US News & World Report correspondent, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles, and author of The Sword of the Prophet. The sequel, Defeating Jihad, was published by Regina Orthodox Press in April. Read his commentaries on ChroniclesMagazine.org.
Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is The Truth About Muhammad.
FP: Walid Shoebat, Serge Trifkovic and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Magazine.
Walid Shoebat, let’s begin with you. Tell us a bit about this new documentary and your contribution to it.
Shoebat: Ever since I left radical Islam, I have consistently run into westerners who are oblivious to the mind-set of radical Islamists, and being on both sides of the fence, I have felt like I am Captain Spock of Star Trek -- always having to explain to Captain Kirk how the aliens thought. Yet the first problem I encountered when speaking to westerners is that they always think that the Muslim world has the same aspirations as they do, seeking liberty, equality, modernization, democracy, and the good life.
Today, Islamism, a forgotten giant that ruled the ancient world and was finally wounded by the West, is now coming back to life - quickly. In many countries with a Muslim majority, secularism and socialism is out of style, and we have a new trend (actually very old) that is having a come-back, and is growing like wild-fire -- radical Islam.
This documentary I participated in links Islam’s history from it’s beginning until now showing the myths and facts. The documentary relies primarily on Islam’s own sources with the undeniable statements made by Muhammad, Islam’s founding father, and how his teachings still live in our modern time. While all this evidence is discussed, many statements by world leaders and politicians deny the undeniable - that Islam in its core teaching is not simply a "beautiful and peace loving religion", but a system of government as well to be forced on the rest of the world.
While the East already knows Islam since it lived with it from the beginning, the West is still oblivious not only to Islam’s history, but its growth in the West as well.
It’s a documentary that every westerner must see, especially since we still have our freedom to critique Islam, at least for now.
FP: Serge Trifkovic, how come I have a feeling this documentary won’t be part of the curriculum for too many university courses?
Trifkovic: I’d say that your feeling probably isn’t entirely intuitive. It is also based on ample empirical evidence that the elite class that controls the education, media, and entertainment all over the Western world does not want a serious debate about Islam’s tenets, historical record, and geopolitical designs. Worse still, since you ask about university courses, our educators don’t want to educate young people about Islam as it is – for which purpose “What the West Needs to Know” would be an excellent tool – but to indoctrinate them into accepting the elite consensus.
That consensus, as we see in the opening clips of Blair, Bush and Clinton, rests upon the implacable dogma that there is something called “real Islam” (peaceful, tolerant, and as American as apple pie), and then there is “extremism” that is an aberrant and unrepresentative deviation of Muhammad’s faith. (Blair’s assurances that the 9-11 attackers were not “Islamic terrorists” but “terrorists plain and simple” would have been on par with FDR declaring, after Pearl Harbor, that the attackers were not “Japanese airmen,” but “airmen” plain and simple.)
Let me offer a striking example of this dogma, lengthy for the symposium format but useful as to what gets into college courses and school curricula. It is provided by Houghton Mifflin, publishers of a history textbook, Across the Centuries, that is compulsory for 7th grade students in California. It employed one Shabbir Mansuri, a man with terrorist connections and a founding director of the Council on Islamic Education in California, to help with the book’s chapter on Islam. The results, while predictable, defy belief.
The first verses of the Qur’an, the textbook teaches 12 and 13-year-old Americans, “were revealed” to Muhammad in AD 610, and the initial revelation came from “a being he later identified as the angel Gabriel.” Such quasi-factual statements would befit a textbook used in a Pakistani medressa, but not one used in an American public school. More egregiously, Across the Centuries states that “some Jewish leaders would not accept Muhammad as God’s latest prophet,” and blithely glosses over the fact that Muhammad reacted to the Jews’ refusal to accept his prophetic claims with a host of violently Judeophobic “revelations” in the Kuran. Such injunctions from Allah paved the way for the ethnic cleansing and eventual extermination of all Jews under Muhammad’s domain. To omit his Endloesung from the history of early Islam is equal to the history of the rise of Nazism purged of the Kristallnacht and the Nuremberg Laws.
Another bold misrepresentation is contained on p. 64, dealing with “an Islamic term that is often misunderstood,” jihad. The textbook provides only one “true” definition: “The term means ‘to struggle,’ to do one’s best to resist temptation and overcome evil.” It admits that “[u]nder certain conditions the struggle to overcome evil may require action,” but hastens to add that the Kuran and Sunna “allow self-defense and participation in military conflict, but restrict it to the right to defend against aggression and persecution.” American teenagers are also taught that Muslim women enjoy “clear rights” in marriage and the right to an education, that the Muslims were “extremely tolerant of those they conquered,” that “Christians and Jews had full religious freedom” under Islam, and a host of similar lies. The exercises in the textbook require them to wear an Islamic robe, adopt a Muslim name, memorize Kuranic verses, to pray “in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful” and to chant, “Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation.”
The upholders of the mindset that promotes and mandates such rubbish in our classrooms will naturally treat the truth about Islam as inadmissible, and that’s why “What the West Needs to Know” will be ignored by them. They dominate the entertainment industry – just look at Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, which conveyed the message that, in a conflict between Christians and Muslims, the former attack, the latter react. The true hero of the movie is Saladin, a wise warrior-king sans peur et sans reproche; its villains, the coarse and bloodthirsty Europeans.
The manner in which the media routinely misrepresent Islam tends to be more insidious, especially when it is wrapped in the guise of scholarship. Take the 2002 PBS mini-series Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, financed mostly with our money, which offered an uncritical hagiography on par with the Soviet state television’s treatment of Lenin. Just as the comrades routinely glossed over some two million innocent victims of the 1917-1921 Bolshevik terror, the PBS glossed over the matter of slaughtered Jewish tribes, of the razzias, murders, rapes, of poll tax and dhimmitude. All Muslim battles were presented as defensive. Nine “specialists” vied with each other to praise Muhammad in extravagant terms. The result bordered on the ridiculous: e.g. “he deeply, deeply loved” his first wife Khadija, and each of his many subsequent marriages was “an act of faith, not of lust” – nine-year-old Aisha included for sure. Muhammad was presented as the liberator of women, and no mention was made of many Kuranic verses and Hadiths that allow, even sanctify rape, violence against wives, and discrimination.
On each and every score “What the West Needs to Know” sets the record straight, and that’s why it is subversive and dangerous. I expect it will be formally banned in the European Union, and I and my four fellow-“stars” should think twice before boarding the next flight for Heathrow or Schiphol lest we end up in a slammer with the book thrown at us for saying things that must not be said. On balance that may well be a price worth paying to alert our naive, complacent or manipulated fellow Westerners that their house is on fire.
In The Firebugs, Swiss playwright Max Frisch thus tells the story of Gottlieb Biedermann, a prosperous, guilt-ridden businessman who responds to an epidemic of arson in his town by letting two shady characters who look like arsonists into his home, lodging them, feeding them, and finally providing them with the incendiary materials. Even when he and his initially uneasy wife realize who the visitors really are, they remain in denial about their intentions. Biedermann tries to buy security by displaying generosity, even when the writing is clearly on the wall. Far from being grateful, the arsonists despise him and smugly state that “the best and safest method” for hoodwinking people “is to tell them the plain unvarnished truth.”
“What the West Needs to Know” seeks to present that unvarnished truth soberly, even dryly, with no bells and whistles, no dramatic music and no special effects. It offers a breath of fresh air and an alternative to the non-debate on Islam that we’ve had for over five years.
Spencer: It all reminds me of Eugene Ionesco’s delightful play Rhinoceros. In it, human beings one by one become rhinoceri, and even those who initially vow to hold out eventually succumb, out of the pressure of conformism and the sheer weariness of holding out. The absurdist premise is not so absurd when one looks at the global situation today: the free world is under assault everywhere from the forces of jihad, working from the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and notably the words and deeds of Muhammad. Yet in America and the West, taking note of these rather obvious facts only brings one opprobrium, if the chattering classes deign to take notice at all: one is compelled in the mainstream of public discourse to deny the obvious. Everyone is busy tossing away common sense, reason, and basic powers of observation and becoming a rhinoceros, and vilifying those who decline to do so.
Although the facts presented in Islam: What the West Needs to Know are readily and easily verifiable, they are not to be spoken, not to be noticed, and anyone who dares do so will in effect be read out of polite society. In a sane West, interested in its own defense, such a documentary would not have been produced by a small and indeed quixotic independent production company – Quixotic Media – but would have been just one part of a larger effort by Hollywood itself to educate the public about what we are facing, and why our civilization is worth defending. It would not have seen limited, quasi-furtive distribution, but nationwide, front-burner attention.
Nevertheless, however anxiously the media and political mainstream wish to ignore the information in this film, and however successful they are in diverting people away from seeing it or even hearing about it, they will ultimately not be so successful in preventing jihad terrorists from continuing to act upon the teachings of Islam we explain in the film. And eventually it will become painfully clear to the politically correct authorities that no matter how much it discomfits them, what we have explained in Islam: What the West Needs to Know is simply the truth. The sooner it is recognized and policies constructed accordingly, the safer we will all be.
Shoebat: I share similar frustration as Spencer and Trifkovic. My last episode speaking at Colombia was not only frustrating, but some of the questions made by the student audience reveal a dangerous trend. In my speech, I critiqued not only Islam, but Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer who wrote “The Jews and Their Lies." I also elevated Martin Luther King Jr. for fighting for Black rights, yet students criticized my speech as anti-Islam, racism and bigotry. Why is it that when I critiqued Martin Luther I was not accused of bigotry against Christianity?
When I was a terrorist the world labelled us as freedom fighters. When I was a “freedom fighter”, I was free to say that “Jews are shylocks, Israel is a racist state, Jews run the Congress and the media…”. In those days, I hated Jews, but when the day came that I changed my mind and loved everyone, I was labelled as a racist.
Yet similar statements to the things we said when we were terrorists are made at our universities – Richard Falk taught that Iran is a model for a humane government, Andres Steinberg “Israel destroys Christian shrines”, Rashid Khalidi “Israel is racist”, DeGenova “Patriot Americans are white supremacist”, Hamid Dabashi “Jews are vulgar”.
All these are so similar to what I learned as terrorist, yet these professors are not labelled as terror supporters, and I am being labelled as racist?
At another speech, one Rabbi critiqued the New Testament as “riddled with violence,” I had no problem with his right to state this, yet when I confronted him I asked “Why do you feel free to critique the New Testament, but afraid of critiquing Islam’s well documented violence?” to which he could not reply.
It didn’t matter that I stated in my speech that a Jew had the right to critique Christianity, a Christian had the right to critique Mormonism and Islam, and a Muslim had a right to critique the Bible and Christianity, I was still accused of racism and bigotry against Islam. One can say almost anything against any other religion but Islam. Why?
Our basic religious freedom is at stake. We might be going on the same road as I witnessed in England while doing interviews in the media. In one Christian TV show, the interviewer stated that he cannot critique Islam in fear of closure. Only the interviewee can do so. He feared a shut down of his Christian station.
The other dangerous trend is that all fundamentalists are being lumped as fanatics. At the BBC in England during one interview the interviewer stated to me that “the problem with today’s world is fundamentalism” to which I responded “Christian fundamentalists give the world a headache, I confess, but Muslim fundamentalists will whack your head right off your shoulders, sir” I was quickly thanked and escorted out of the BBC.
I concur with Trifkovic’s findings in regards to Across the Centuries school textbook. I remember the day I reviewed the same book my son brought from school, the next day I walked into the vice principle’s office when I threw the book on the desk asking “do you know what is today’s date/”, to which he replied “it’s September 11”. I replied him “I reject teaching Islam as fact, while my son cannot learn Christianity. Islam is the religion of millions who condoned 9/11.”
Fortunately for my son, he said “Sir, in this school we skip the whole subject, the book is enforced on us, but we do not comply.” Yet I doubt that the rest of the school system was as wise as this one.
I also concur with Trifkovic’s Kingdom of Heaven analysis. In one videotape I have by Sheikh Qaradawi, who spent six years in the Middle East as security adviser to the EU spreading his “peaceful Islam”, was giving an example to Muslim students in America about Salahuddin (Saladin). While Saladin’s Arab advisor was asked by Saladin that the Crusaders want a peace treaty, in which his Arab advisor gave the example from Surah Al-Anfal:61 “And if they concede to peace, so shall you concede, and place your trust in Allah”, yet Saladin argued “I am a Kurd and you are an Arab, you should know the Quran better then I” in which Saladin quoted Surat Muhammad verse 35 “And be not slack so as to cry for peace and you have the upper hand.”
Indeed, as Muhammad stated “Al-Harbu Khid’a” in English “War is deception”, yet, and while we try to fight the deception by Islamic terrorists from outside, we need to first fight the Islamic terror support that is coming from the inside.
This deception wants to change the next generation Americans. If they succeed, it’s all over -- they won.
Trifkovic: None of us should have any delusions about the prospects that "What the West Needs to Know," or any other single book, movie, or TV appearance, will alter the paradigm and change the terms of what is still a very one-sided debate about Islam. This film nevertheless represents a quantum leap from what we've had available in filmography so far, most notoriously that disgraceful PBS series on Muhammad.
I'd hope the producers will come up with a shorter version that can be marketed to some potentially friendly TV channels (they do exist), or perhaps a 3-part mini-series of 30 min. each, and for the mass market the material may need to be "jazzed up" a little with more documentary clips and a more lively delivery of the voice-over reading Kuranic verses and Hadith, all of which would broaden the film's potential appeal.
This would be well worth the Quijotic team's while, as the movie makes a solid contribution to the effort to define the Enemy in the nebulously named "War on Terror," and to grasp the nature of the threat. It brings us a little closer to the day when the West will discard the taboos and start analyzing Islam without fear, or guilt, or the shackles of mandated thinking. "If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles," says Sun Tzu. Those who see this film will be a step closer to knowing the enemy, his core beliefs, his role models, his track-record, his mindset, his modus operandi, and his intentions.
But the main problem remains with ourselves, with those among us who have the power to make policy and shape opinions, and who will wilfully ignore, or else reject and condemn "What the West Needs to Know," and all of its contributors, and all of their works. Let's face it: they are beyond redemption, and the time for euphemisms and diplomatic restraint is over. The elite class that continues to peddle the lie about the "Religion of Peace and Tolerance," is composed of either idiots or evil traitors (and in Tony Blair's case the two blend seamlessly). As I wrote in "Chronicles" a week ago, the crime of which Jihad's Shabbos-goyim in the West are guilty "far exceeds any transgression for which the founders of the United States overthrew the colonial government."
Spencer: Says Serge Trifkovic: “But the main problem remains with ourselves, with those among us who have the power to make policy and shape opinions, and who will wilfully ignore, or else reject and condemn ‘What the West Needs to Know,’ and all of its contributors, and all of their works.”
Exactly so. It isn’t as if the facts about Islam and jihad that we present in Islam: What the World Needs to Know are arcane or esoteric. They are affirmed daily by Islamic jihadists, and never refuted or effectively combated by the much-vaunted Islamic moderates. They were widely known and even taken for granted in the West for centuries up until the last few decades, and were enunciated by Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams, Winston Churchill and others. Only Islamic apologists -- such as Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi in his endlessly inventive 1930 book The Religion of Peace – maintained in the face of a mountain of textual, theological, jurisprudential and historical evidence that Islam did not contain within it doctrines and imperatives that justified aggression and cruelty.
But today the comprehensive guilt trip that is multiculturalism makes it impossible for Western policymakers and media to look squarely at the nature of Islam. If the Islamic world has a problem with the West, it must be our fault – because of Iraq, or Abu Ghraib, or Israel, or Mossadegh, or something. This is an intriguing inversion of the old colonial paternalism: whereas the “white man’s burden” assumed that it was the role of the West to bring civilization to the colonized areas, and that the civilizing “burden” was in no sense shared by the colonized people, so today the Left sees the evils perpetrated by the enemies of the West as entirely provoked by the West: once again, the “non-white,” non-Christian West has no responsibility for its own actions. But the arrogance of this perspective likewise never registers in the public sphere – it is as invisible as the Islamic doctrines of jihad and the supremacism of the Sharia.
This willful blindness is what threatens to do us in even more than Osama bin Laden and his ilk. While the mainstream media piously pretends that there is no problem, the problem metastasizes. And those who tell the truth about it are marginalized and vilified. But like the lone holdout in Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, I for my part will never give up – and in that I know I speak for the others who appear in Islam: What the West Needs to Know.
FP: Walid Shoebat, Serge Trifkovic and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Magazine.
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