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Film review: ‘The Third Jihad’

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Want to get scared out of your wits? Watch The Third Jihad.

Want a balanced picture of Islam? You’ll have to look elsewhere.

The 72-minute documentary, being booked for screenings around the U.S., is produced by the same team that did Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West back in 2005. But instead of worldwide radical Islam, The Third Jihad focuses on western Europe and America.

The title is drawn from three waves of conquest: the Arab spread throughout the Middle East and northern Africa in the seventh century, then the Turkish push into Constantinople and southeastern Europe in the 15th century, then the so-called final phase aimed at the U.S. and western Europe.

There’s a token disclaimer at the start: that the film is not about Islam, but “the threat of radical Islam,” only a small percentage of the world’s Muslims. But with those few seconds done with, The Third Jihad leaps to the 2004 case of Russian Muslim rebels who blew up 300 hostages, including 156 schoolchildren.

And it doesn’t let up for the next 70 minutes or so. With the low-key narrative voice of Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser — himself a Muslim and U.S. Navy veteran — The Third Jihad says, over and over, that they’re out to get minaret03, 72dpi us.

The well-produced video shows how some radical elements have implanted themselves in England and the United States, setting up mosques, establishing neighborhoods and trying to intimidate opponents. It damns Islam’s record for women’s rights and says Sharia, Islamic law, creates “human rights disasters.” It asks what would happen if groups like Al-Qaida got their hands on a nuclear bomb, or if a nuclear power like Pakistan fell to radical Muslims.

Much of the footage is indeed scary. Angry mobs raise fists and shout slogans. Preteen children, armed and hooded like their elders, vow to become “martyrs.” Scowling, bearded, turbaned preachers jab fingers as they forecast the worldwide rule of Islam.

It scary also because it’s the same track taken by Red Scare purveyors in the 1950s. And by church leaders talking about the “new age” in the 1980s. And by religious right ministers who told horror stories about gay activists in the 1990s. They’re not like us. They hate our values. They’ve infiltrated positions of influence. And they’re close to winning.

The sourcing for The Third Jihad is likewise biased. It includes the likes of Tawfik Hamid, a former terrorist. And Walid Phares, a Maronite Christian from Lebanon. And Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has been threatened with murder for denouncing militants in her former home of Holland. Their feelings toward Islam are totally understandable.

But are they the only voices? What of more moderate ones like Khaleel Mohammed, Irshad Manji and Aisha Musa — people who take totally different approaches to Islamic teaching?

And what of countervailing streams in Islam? There’s nothing on the moderate Sufis and Gulenists, as well as the more relaxed faith in Indonesia. Nothing of the anti-radical writings of Muslims in Syria, Egypt and the United Kingdom — writings readily available from the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Finally, the program doesn’t account for the mutual distrust among many Muslim lands — especially among Turks, Arabs and Iranians.

No, the Islamic world is not a united bloc against western values. The threats posed in The Third Jihad are real — at least, many of them are. But it’s not a simple cultural war between East and West. It’s a battle for the soul and definition of Islam. It’s a war between the radicals and the rest of us — Muslims and others.

The Third Jihad does offer some commonsense actions. Learn more about radical Islam. Get America off foreign oil (although we actually import little from the Middle East these days). Elect Congressmen who will be firm against militants. Demand more human rights in Islamic countries. Prod American Muslim groups to take a stand against imposing Sharia.

It would have been nice to add: Don’t scapegoat your Muslim neighbors for what others do. They are targets as much as you are. Make common cause against your common foes.

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Written by Jim Davis

July 1, 2009 at 4:31 am

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