WASHINGTON, DC (February 1, 2012) -The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) has expressed serious concern at the vilification of the documentary The Third Jihad by the New York Times, which appears to be echoing and amplifying the party line of well-known Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the U.S. In its public statement, the AILC warned about the grave dangers of instrumentalizing Islam, from either end of the political spectrum:
"Well-intentioned Muslims and their allies on the left (including the New York Times) should beware of politicizing Islam, or seeking to prevent rational discourse concerning the very real threat posed by "radical Islam" to Western societies, and to Muslims at large. For those who deny a threat whose existence is self-evident to a majority of our fellow citizens, will share in the responsibility if and when that majority loses patience amid the heat of a future crisis-lashing out at Islam itself, and all Muslims, for the behavior of Muslim supremacists, whose ideology our intellectual and political elites have so dismally failed to acknowledge or address.
"In light of the swirling controversy over the New York Police Department's use of a film, The Third Jihad, for training purposes, we feel it is our civic, moral and religious duty to publicly address a number of issues raised by this controversy.
"We have viewed The Third Jihad, and regard the information presented therein to be both factually accurate, and important for our fellow Muslim and non-Muslim citizens to understand, debate and address.
"The Third Jihad explicitly distinguishes between the religion of Islam, and the highly politicized ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence characteristic of political Islam, often referred to as "Islamism." While the film does not examine the pluralistic, tolerant and spiritual traditions of Islam that lie at the heart of our own understanding thereof, this does not imply that the film is inaccurate in its depiction of what it specifically terms "radical Islam," as exemplified by movements such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Wahhabism (aka "Salafism") and the Muslim Brotherhood.
"We agree with the view expressed in the January 24, 2012 edition of the New York Times, that The Third Jihad is "a dark film" and "an explosive documentary." However, contrary to the Times' insinuation, this is not because of any falsehoods contained in the film. Rather, both the violent-and non-violent, subversive-methods employed by Islamist movements to achieve their goal of political domination are indeed "dark" and highly disturbing (hence, "explosive") to most people who come to recognize, but do not share, the Islamists' worldview and agenda.
"Significantly, since the attacks of 9/11, the NYPD has evidenced greater courage and recognition of the factors that cause radicalization among Muslims, than have the various federal agencies explicitly tasked with defending our nation and its people. Notwithstanding Islamist claims to the contrary, we believe there is nothing inappropriate about the NYPD or other security agencies using the film The Third Jihad to help their staff understand and recognize the ideology of religious hatred, supremacy and violence that underlies and animates Islamist terrorism.
"The NYPD's initial denial of having widely used the film for training purposes-and subsequent public apologies issued by Commissioner Kelly ("It shouldn't have been shown") and Mayor Bloomberg ("Somebody exercised some terrible judgment. I don't know who. We'll find out.")-are in and of themselves deeply troubling, and say far more about the current state of American society than about The Third Jihad itself. In fact, these public denials and apologies demonstrate the remarkable success achieved by the Islamist lobby in North America, which seeks to prevent any and all public discussion of the supremacist political ideology that non-violent Islamist organizations share in common with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. In other words, the behavior of the NYPD, in this matter, tends to confirm the film's thesis.
"Islamist groups and their allies are, predictably, now seeking to exploit the opportunity presented by the current controversy over The Third Jihad to call for "oversight," "corrective training" and "participation" by the "Muslim community" (i.e., Islamists!) in all counter-terrorist programs initiated by the NYPD.
"The American Islamic Leadership Coalition recognizes and deplores the rise and spread of genuine Islamophobia in North America and Europe. However, we ascribe this rise of anti-Islam and anti-Muslim attitudes primarily to the actions of Muslims themselves (i.e., Islamists), whose efforts to establish an Islamic caliphate, an Islamic state, and/or to impose an antiquated and falsely-divinized human understanding of Islamic law upon others by force, dominate our daily headlines, and inevitably generate a strong sense of disgust-and visceral mistrust-among many of our fellow citizens.
"Any and all efforts to conceal the Islamist agenda, or render its discussion beyond the pale of acceptable discourse-by branding such talk as "Islamophobia" or "hate speech"-threatens not only our common freedom and security, but the very future of Islam itself. For the Islamists' prime goal is the silencing of Muslim opposition, and of any voice in the Muslim world that would challenge their monolithic, sterile and shallow understanding of Islam, which lacks the spirituality that enables religion to serve as a true path to God.
"Islamist opposition to The Third Jihad, a film narrated by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, clearly demonstrates this point. The Islamists' uproar is driven by a desire to stifle alternative and truly moderate voices such as that of Dr. Jasser, a member of this coalition whom we know to be a devout Muslim committed to the highest values of Islam, and to our nation's founding principles. The New York Times' decision to embrace the Islamist "party line" on this matter hinders sincere efforts to identify and address the ideological source of Muslim radicalization, and to promote true reform within Islam, consistent with its primary message of universal love, compassion and mercy for all God's creatures.
"The current, highly-politicized nature of public discourse about Islam, in the West, is thus deeply worrying to us. Those who are truly Islamophobic often fail to acknowledge any redeeming qualities in Islam, or the faith of observant Muslims. Instead, they tend to demonize Islam, and seek to convince the majority of our fellow citizens that Islam itself is the threat, because its "true" and "authoritative" teachings are ostensibly identical to those of the Islamists.
"Simultaneously, many on the left minimize or dismiss the threat posed by Islamists and instead proclaim Islam to be purely "a religion of peace," while depicting the dire warnings of their political opponents as the raving of xenophobic and delusional hate-mongers, who seek to ostracize, and victimize, Muslims in general.
"The result of these conflicting views is institutional paralysis in the West, and a complete lack of societal consensus as to the nature of the threat we face from "radical Islam," and how we should address it.
"For those who seek clarity amid the chaos of this dispute, it may be helpful to realize that those at both ends of the political spectrum, described above, share one salient feature in common with the Islamists themselves: i.e., they seek to instrumentalize the religion of Islam for political purposes.
"Thus, an essential step towards establishing a rational, sound and mutually beneficial policy towards Islam and Muslims is for the U.S. and other Western nations to depoliticize this issue and create a bi-partisan/international consensus. Failure to do so will inevitably lead to greater polarization in the coming years, and the likely emergence of a societal consensus in the West whose demographics were on stark display in the summer of 2010, in polls concerning the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque": i.e., approximately 30% in favor, and 70% opposed. In Europe, this is the path of ethnic and religious cleansing, advocated by Anders Breivik and a rising populist movement. Here in the U.S., it is similarly the path of fear and hatred. To willfully and/or blindly continue along this path-especially at a time of nuclear proliferation and widespread political instability in the Muslim world-is the height of irresponsible folly."
The American Islamic Leadership Coalition (AILC) is a diverse coalition of liberty-minded, North American Muslim leaders and organizations. AILC's mission advocates for defending the US Constitution, upholding religious pluralism, protecting American security and cherishing genuine diversity in the faith and practice of Islam. AILC provides a stark alternative to the Islamist organizations that claim to speak for what are diverse American Muslim communities.