More Islamic Propaganda on PBS Stations: LIFE OF MUHAMMAD
I had just finished reading the report of the Wall Street Journal on the attacks of radical Islamists on Christian homes, shops and churches. The report sent from a city in Upper Egypt (i.e., in the southern part of the country) began: MINYA, Egypt – Osama Makram Amin woke to the sound of gunfire, looked out his window and saw what he says were young men throwing gasoline bombs at the nearby Coptic Christian church. Several photos of the report showed shocking devastations that occurred in church buildings and their precious contents. .
Just before retiring, I turned on the PBS station and noticed that a program had already begun airing, it dealt with the Life of the Prophet Muhammad. The host as well as other participants in the program spoke with a British accent. Their stated goal was to investigate key events during the latter part of life of Muhammad, including the introduction of the moral code known as Sharia as well as the concept of jihad. I watched enough of the program to notice that its genre was almost identical with other documentaries on Islam aired in the past on PBS. So, I searched my files for Islam: Empire of Faith telecast on PBS TV stations on 8 May, 2001, and rebroadcast in January, 2002. The following are excerpts from comments on that documentary I found posted on websites that specialize in the study of the history and spread of Islam during the last 1400 years:
In his Foreword to Bat Ye’or’s book, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: from Jihad to Dhimmitude, Jacques Ellul, the late Protestant scholar, was concerned about what he called the Dhimmitude of the West. He was referring to those Western writers and intellectuals who adopt self-censorship, when dealing with Islam. Such behavior is similar to that of the Jews and Christians who came under Islam.
I could not help thinking of his words when viewing a Public Television production, Islam: Empire of Faith aired on 8 May, 2001, from 8-10:30 p.m. The majority of the speakers were Western, associated with such institutions as the University of Saint Louis, Columbia University, Boston College, and Edinburgh University.
When dealing with the experience of Muhammad in a cave near Mecca, one commentator made no qualification when saying the Prophet’s mission was given by Divine revelation. While it is accurate to report that in 622, Muhammad and his followers moved to Medina on account of the hostility of the leaders of Mecca, it was not accurate to state that Hostility always began from Meccan side. After all, Muslim historians extol the ability of the Prophet to organize attacks on the Meccan caravans that were on their way to Syria. Details in the life of the Prophet that might offend Western viewers were left out. Indeed, it was a truly sanitized biography!
As to the early years of Islam, the age of the caliphate and the conquests, the impression was given that the spread of this religion was primarily due to the power of the faith. But this is not the whole story. Certainly, the early Muslims were fired with a tremendous zeal as they burst out of Arabia and entered the territories of the Byzantine and Persian Empires. But the rapid success of their conquests was not exclusively due to the power of the faith.
When commenting on this documentary in the winter 2002 issue of Middle East Quarterly, Martin Kramer wrote: The depiction of the Islamic empire as an empire of faith is already a limiting one, since Islam was spread by fear as well as faith, by conquest as well as commerce. Anyone who has taken an elementary course in Islamic history will know this. Anyone who has only watched this film will not.
The men and women who narrated the script of the Empire of Faith kept on extolling the greatness of Islam. But the apex of my horror was reached when the Ottoman period of Islamic history was being recounted. The Ottoman Turks had come from Central Asia, and served the Caliphs as mercenaries. Eventually, they adopted Islam. They became the defenders and spreaders of their new faith. They pushed the boundaries of the Islamic Empire into Eastern and Central Europe. They devised a military system known as the Devshirme. This involved the seizure of Christian boys from their families in the conquered parts of Europe, and forcing them to Islamize. After a rigid training, they were formed into an elite army corps that would go on to expand the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. This army was known as the Janissary.
How did the lady professor describe this barbaric act that deprived Christian families of some of their male offspring? With a tone of full approval she said that the Ottomans recruited Christian children as if it were a privilege. Was recruited is the proper word to use here? What a blatant camouflage of an evil system that lasted so long in Eastern Europe that it left scars on its inhabitants to this very day!
When referring to the deliberate omission of the dark side of the history of Islam, Martin Kramer wrote:
The imbalance caused by this omission is particularly unfortunate now that Islam: Empire of Faith has been trotted out to do service as an antidote to September 11. Gardner [reference is to the producer for PBS] made a deliberate and legitimate choice not to bring the film up to the present. But the decision by PBS to rebroadcast it after the attacks effectively revokes the choice. If the film has some relevant message, it is the one made by a raft of experts who claim that violence is not a part of Islam and that jihad was never anything more than peaceful persuasion. But it’s not true. Wars of conquest expanded Islam’s frontiers and every one of them was conducted under the banner of jihad. And if anyone doubts the Islamic legitimacy of slaughtering innocents in the assault on an enemy city, they have only to look to the fall of Constantinople. They just won’t be able to find it in this film.
To read the full text of the article, please to: http://www.levant.info/MER041.html
The full text of the comments of Martin Kramer: http://www.meforum.org/139/islam-for-viewers-like-you
It is very unfortunate that PBS persists in offering documentaries that do not inform the viewers about the true nature of Islam, as an imperialistic faith. Events on the ground in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan tell an entirely different story! What a pity that Western Dhimmitue now manifests itself in the production of documentaries like LIFE OF MUHAMMAD!