It was practically the one patch of rhetorical common ground we had after 9/11: Right, left, or center, we could all agree—at least publicly—that the guys who took down the World Trade Center had nothing to do with true Islam. And that any war on al-Qaeda was in no way an attack on the Muslim people, who are innately peace-loving and law-abiding. And—oh, you know the rest. Those platitudes now come under a kind of jihadist assault from filmmakers Gregory M. Davis and Bryan Daly, whose monomaniacal polemic, Islam: What the West Needs to Know, argues that the world’s second-largest faith is nothing less than a warrior creed, right down to its Mohammedan roots. Forget whatever lip service the Prophet initially paid to tolerance; once he was in power, the film maintains, he wished only forcible conversion or death for infidels. As a result, declares talking head Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org, “Islam is not simply a religion. It is a religion or belief system that mandates warfare against unbelievers.” This warfare will never end, we’re told, until all Earthlings are bowing toward Mecca—a proposition Davis and Daly periodically dramatize with insidious camera crawls across a terrain map of Europe, which lies as prostrate and defenseless as a virgin in a pasha’s chamber. No Westerner, of course, could deny the threat posed by Islamic militants, but this film wants us to believe that every Muslim is at heart a militant—even the most Westernized, who’s merely a fifth columnist biding his time until the great invasion of his fellows. Why? Because that’s what the Koran commands, Davis and Daly suggest. Let’s buy into their East vs. West presumptions for a minute—and note that the Bible variously sanctions slavery, genocide, rape, stoning, and, yes, forced conversion. Even that well-known pacifist Jesus was supposed to have said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would it were already kindled!” Hold any of us to the letter of our founding texts, and we’re all in trouble. If Davis and Daly had a little imagination, they might see that the devil they’re chasing isn’t Islam but fundamentalism, which assumes many forms. Even documentaries. —Louis Bayard

Our Readers Say

What a stupid, ill-informed article. What turned me onto the extremely disturbing elements of Islam was researching the Qur'an and Hadith not right-wing American nutters with questionable motivations. The Qur'an makes a massive provision for warfare aginst the "polytheists" and "kaafir" or unbelievers. This is a religion proscribes death for apostasy, murder or homosexuals, stoning of adulterer's, severing of limbs for theft and the subjugation of women. My grandfather was a Pakistani Muhammadan and I am deeply disturbed by his choice in religion. I'm sick of liberal, left-wing saps and apologists defending this 7th century warrior cult and I'm no EDL nutter by the way. I am a communist. Read the Qur'an, Sunnah and Hadith. The whole sordid affair that Muhammad's life is recorded there.

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