The Fog Is Not Lifting: New DVD Whitewashes Islamism

Last year, Islamist anger over the mass distribution of the DVD Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West was quite predictable. As is their modus operandi, the Islamist cry focused on victimology and attacking the messenger, while avoiding any real debate over the message of the DVD itself.

North Carolina proved to be particularly fertile ground for the validation of Islamist woes. One newspaper, the Greensboro News and Record, flatly refused to distribute the DVD, while another, the News and Observer, "allowed" the paid distribution of free speech but enclosed an editorial board op-ed, which served as an insert warning to readers.

But that wasn't enough for Islamists. Some are now fighting back with their own DVD, entitled The Fog Is Lifting (Part 1): Islam in Brief, produced by an Egyptian nonprofit group, the Bridges Foundation. Some 20,000 copies of the DVD were distributed to three zip codes within Wake County, North Carolina. Bundled in an issue of the News and Observer, the DVD aims to "repair the image of Islam" and is allegedly designed to counteract the Obsession DVD distributed in the same paper in September of last year. While marketed to "explain" Islamic precepts and theology, it does so from only a single point of view. Islamist apologist Omid Safi, a professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, described the DVD as follows:

It's a full-throated defense of the tradition in which Islam is presented as the perfect egalitarian, scientific, pluralistic, modern religion that doesn't have the flaws of all the other religions. ... It remains to be seen if it will be seen as preaching to the choir, or if it will succeed in persuading people outside the Muslim community.

Apparently, Professor Safi believes that a video proselytizing to the general public, which proclaims Islam not to "have the flaws of all the other religions" and declares scientific doctrines like evolutionism wrong, is somehow preaching to the choir and constitutes an appropriate American message. He ignores the fact that there is a diversity of theological interpretations in Islam, including the varying schools of thought within Sunnism and varying sects within Islam, including Alevism, Sufism, and Shiism. Safi would have been more accurate if he had stated that the DVD portrays Islam as interpreted by the political Salafi movement. He then would have also had to concede that some Muslims would find such evangelism wrongheaded and a misrepresentation of the diversity of thought amongst Muslims here in the U.S. It is precisely this type of Islamist supremacism that prevents real reform today against radical Islam and marginalizes any Muslim thought that does not toe the line of political Islam or the Salafist movement.