The Islam Documentary You Didn't See

May 12th, 2007 5:13 PM

PBS won't let the general public watch "Islam vs. Islamists," however blogger Roger Simon has seen it and was quite impressed:

I have to admit the first thing that attracted me to Martyn Burke’s “Islam vs. Islamists” was that PBS had suppressed it. As is now well known, the Public Broadcasting network rejected Burke’s documentary - produced with Frank Gaffney and Alex Alexiev for the network’s “American Crossroads” series - on the film’s completion. PBS’ initial explanation for this blackballing was that the film was not good enough, aesthetically.

Well, yes, I thought when I heard that; that could be. Most things are. As a filmmaker I know that well. Not to my credit, I am usually especially hard on my fellows’ work – and on my own. Only one of the films I have written – Enemies, A Love Story – can I even watch today. Most PBS documentaries I find so stultifying I would rather read the phone book. The network has yet to produce its own "Nanook of the North," to put it mildly.

So I assumed the criticism of Burke’s film was valid. Still, I was curious. I had not been entirely satisfied with previous documentaries I had seen on related subjects – "Islam: What the West Needs to Know and Obsession" – because, like Al Gore’s global warming film, they were made in the old-fashioned didactic style of the conventional documentary that always teeters on the edge of propaganda or special pleading. I assumed "Islam vs. Islamists" would be like that.

Boy was I wrong. Burke’s doc is a riveting and creatively made film about the most important subject of our time: what to do about radical Islam? It confronts this dilemma in a sly, novelistic manner, inter-weaving the stories of good, moderate Muslims with the Imams and supposedly “true Muslims” who, not surprisingly, accuse the moderate Muslims of not being Muslims at all. Soon enough we learn these Imams are apologists for terrorism and for the worst kind of medieval religious sadism. (One of them enthusiastically endorses the stoning to death of adulterers by holding up a Koran. “I didn’t make this up,” he says proudly. “It is written here.”) The mostly mild-mannered moderate Muslims are shown to be at risk for the lives, some of them accompanied everywhere by bodyguards.

Read the rest.