A Forum to Oppose Muslim Radicals

Tonight, Islam vs. Islamists will finally air on local public television.
The Public Broadcasting System removed the film from its highly publicized “America at a Crossroads” series that explores the relationship of Islam and the United States. Islamist sympathizers within the Corporation for Public Broadcasting censored the film.

Islam vs. Islamists is being released following an agreement with Oregon Public Broadcasting, but its distribution will be light. In Arizona it will be shown after primetime with virtually no publicity.

The suppression of the film was part of the persistent marginalization of Muslim moderates who are anti-Islamist. It sends a dangerous message to other like Muslims searching for courage to speak out. Only anti-Islamist Muslims can defeat the root cause of global radical Islamist terror, which is political Islam or Islamism.

Islamism is a movement that seeks to put into place governments or societies in which the Quran is not only a source of law but the source of law. When holy books become the source of law we become a theocracy. Islamists may believe in democracy, election and parliaments, but they do not support governments that don’t promote Islam.

The film profiles the deep internal struggles within the Muslim community of anti-Islamist Muslims across America, Canada and Europe. As one of the Muslims depicted in Islam vs. Islamists, it was validating to know that a wider American audience would actually begin to get a fair glimpse of what happens to Muslims who speak out against the entrenched Islamist power structures in our community.

Throughout the world, we are demonized and ignored by imams and adherents to political Islam, despite our love for our faith. PBS validated the suppression of those ideas through its marginalization of this film.

Before 9/11, many anti-Islamist Muslims hoped that slow generational change would topple the Islamists controlling our communities. Now, after 9/11, many of us have been moved into rapid action, calling on the controlling Islamists to separate their political agendas from the beautiful faith of Islam.

Within the mosques, this debate has generally not evolved. Often anti-Islamists are metaphorically pushed to the back of the mosque. Outside the mosque, blind political correctness conveniently hands over the mantle of Islam to the Islamists and their brand of politics.

This global conflict is between ideologies. Terrorism is not the enemy. It is a means to the ends of militant Islamism. While only a minority of Muslims support terror, the greater question remains, “How many Muslims are willing to stand up and counter the ends of the political Islamist state?”

Phoenix, with its large Muslim population, has innumerable opportunities to begin opening the doors of debate about Islamism and create an ijtihad or modern interpretation that separates Islam from the political agenda of Muslims.

To counter the Islamist imams and the Islamist political parties who call themselves “leading Muslim organizations,” a forum must be available.

This documentary was certainly a first step in the long Muslim journey to rescue spiritual Islam. The next time someone asks, “Where are the voices from the center?” — the answer tonight is on Channel 8 (KAET).

M. Zuhdi Jasser is a physician in private practice and a former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. He is chairman of the Phoenix-based American Islamic Forum for Democracy. He can be reached at Zuhdi@aifdemocracy.org.

Tonight on TV

WHAT: Islam vs. Islamists, followed by a panel discussion on Islam hosted by John Hockenberry and featuring representatives from the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

WHEN: 10 p.m.

WHERE: Channel 8 (KAET).

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