Middle East studies in the News
Is a Muslim Sit-Com the Answer to Our Problems?
by David Solway
CBS anchor Katie Couric recently went on record deploring the "bigotry" and "seething hatred" that Muslims are supposed to be facing in the U.S., and proposing a "Muslim version of the Cosby Show" as a remedy to this lamentable situation. Of course, Ms. Couric's reading of America's ostensible anti-Muslim attitude is total nonsense of the sort associated with the political delirium of the "progressivist" class. The American people on the whole are probably among the most tolerant to be found anywhere in the world, with the glaring exception of the scandal-mongering left that has falsely donned the egalitarian mantle.
Apart from the sheer absurdity of Ms. Couric's suggestion, there is also a dramatis personae problem. Who would such a TV show include among its characters, wonders Abigail Esman in a FrontPage Magazine article: wannabe Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, or Farooque Ahmed who planned to bomb Washington's Metrorail stations, or Nadal Malik Hassan who slaughtered his fellow soldiers at Ford Hood? But why stop there? How about Dallas resident Yasser Abdel Said who did away with his two teenage daughters for dating unapproved boys? Or Zein Issa in St. Louis who killed his daughter for dating an African-American? Or Chaudhry Rashid in Jonesboro, Georgia, who strangled his daughter for trying to leave an arranged marriage? Or Mohammed Shojaeifard of Roslyn, New York, who shot his estranged wife, mother-in-law and young daughter? To name just a few.
Indeed, several of the 9/11 nineteen trained and operated in the U.S. Perhaps some of their thespian impersonators might make a cameo appearance on the hypothetical al-Cosby show, trading jokes with the rest of the cast. The comic material would be inexhaustible: honor killings, wife beating, polygamy, martyrdoms, dhimmitude, jizzya, blowing up churches, incinerating buildings, Jew-bashing, slavery, lawfare, paramilitary recruiting—the laughs just keep on coming. That should put America at ease and salve Ms. Couric's tender soul.
Here in the Great White North, we have already mounted a Muslim-friendly sit-com, courtesy of the left-leaning Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, called Little Mosque on the Prairie. It is filled with babbling pseudo-Muslims who have little in common with their real-world compatriots. The women on the show are Westernized females in silky chadors lording it over their men like not-so desperate housewives. The clean-shaven, jeans-clad, latte-quaffing, yuppie imam exists nowhere in Islam. The sort of problems which the little community must resolve—whether the fast of Ramadan ends with cucumber sandwiches or goat stew—are offensively disingenuous efforts to minimize the threat of a slickly encroaching Islamic ethos. The stated intention of Little Mosque's creator, Zarqa Nawaz, is to put the "fun back into fundamentalism" and to give people "a sense that Muslims have so many similarities to non-Muslims…It's the same issues, you know, a father and his rebellious teenage daughter…just because you're Muslim your standards may be a little bit different, but they're still the same issues."
One begs to differ, if one must beg at all. Pace Ms. Nawaz, standards tend to be a lot different. Muslim daughters have good reason to fear their fathers and brothers who often regard rebelliousness as a capital offence. The three daughters of Muslim-Canadian business man Muhammad Shafia, who were found drowned in a car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal near Kingston, Ontario, might attest to the truth that programs like Little Mosque labor to dissemble. So might 16-year old Aqsa Parvez, murdered by her father for refusing to wear the hijab, or 20-year-old Khatera Sadiqi gunned down by her brother, along with her fiancé, for the crime of asserting her independence.
Little Mosque on the Prairie is an averting fiction, a fantasy which has no reality outside the heads of multiculti CBC executives and a politically indifferent audience. True, all sit-coms are averting fantasies and are meant to be reassuringly non-controversial. But in cases like this one, the subject is already heavily politicized and bears the clear implications of social disquietude, if not outright menace. There are far too many troubling, real-life characters "out there"—convinced jihadists, second-generation extremists, terror mentors, fundamentalist preceptors, inflammatory imams, philosophical enablers and practicing killers—to allow for a calming immunity to the actual.
Indeed, were Abigail Esman surveying the Canadian scene, she might wonder why certain prominent Muslim jihadists are nowhere to be seen on Little Mosque. Where are Misbahuddin Ahmed, Hiza Alizadeh and Khurran Sher who were planning to blow up buildings and public transit systems? Where are the so-called Toronto 18 who conspired to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange and behead the Canadian prime minister? Or Said Namouth involved in an international terrorist plot or Momin Khawaja convicted of terrorism-financing operations and building a remote-control detonating device or Montreal resident Ahmed Ressam of the thwarted LAX strike? This is only an abridged list.
Little Mosque on the Prairie is a fable in bad taste. (I have just now watched an episode in which one of the characters flaunts a gleaming razor-sharp box cutter to disembowel a sofa chair. Have they forgotten so soon?) Canadian viewers who enjoy this program and chuckle at its fusty and inappropriate humor are in a state of denial or, in Andrew Bostom's apt phrase, "Islamically perplexed." But at some point reality must intervene. The genuine issue has nothing to do with the canard of "Islamophobia," which is nonexistent, or a supposed "backlash" against Muslims, which is frankly undetectable. Media entertainment initiatives intended to neutralize what does not exist do far more harm than good since they effectively obscure what does.
The real issue, whether in Canada or the United States or anywhere in the West, has to do with the infiltration of Sharia-compliant usages and customs throughout the culture, and especially with the proliferation of Islamic schools featuring a jihadist curriculum, all too often winked at by our public authorities. For example, the Dar al-Imam school in Montreal sports an affiliation with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the Muslim Brotherhood, both jihadist organizations. According to Marc Lebuis, editor of the website Point de Bascule (Tipping Point) which diligently tracks the inroads made by stealth jihad and Shari'a advocacy programs in Canada, the school's program is anti-Semitic, anti-Gay, anti-Women, pro-suicide bombing, and endorses noted Islamic apologists like Salam Elmenyawi, Tariq Ramadan, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Waleed Najmedinne and Sheema Khan—the latter Chair of CAIR-CAN, who believes that Muslims must "fortify" themselves against Islamophobia.
Nor are institutes like Dar al-Islam merely localized phenomena. Lebuis informs us that in Edmonton, "some public schools offer an Islamic Studies course to 'expose' their students to Sharia," without the slightest "challenging view" of what Shari'a entails. The curriculum is "developed by MAC's representatives in Alberta, and only MAC approved books are being studied." The Islamic syllabus is going national.
The same is true in the U.S. As Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch and prolific author on the subject of the history and politics of Islam, points out, "the Islamic groups that vet American public school textbooks…make sure that the Islamic instruction in these textbooks presents a picture of Islam that is so pristine…it sometimes crosses the boundary from mere pro-Muslim bias into outright Islamic proselytizing." Spencer continues: "Of all the arenas in which the stealth jihad is advancing, the most crucial is in our schools, where stealth jihadists have found a welcoming environment among teachers deeply steeped in the multicultural ethos." These credulous or partisan pedagogues "present a view of Islam that whitewashes its violent history and intolerant religious imperatives." We might designate these schools as representing the higher sit-com. The Islamic academies go much further, bordering on the status of domestic maddrasas inculcating "an unequivocal hatred toward non-Muslims and a deep suspicion toward Western culture."
The sandstorm bearing down on us is no desert mirage. It we do not learn to practice the discipline of political meteorology, we will eventually find ourselves buried under the turbulent changes in the world's ideological climate. Certainly, promoting sit-coms that suppress the Islamic agenda and somnolize the public is not the answer we are looking for. Monitoring or closing down Islamic schools that indoctrinate Muslim youth in favor of Islamic advances into the heritage culture would be far more useful, as would the defusing of the curricular bomb being primed and armed in our own mainstream educational system.
Sit-coms or no sit-coms, this is no laughing matter.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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