Amanpour Inadvertently Exposes the Real Issue with Islam

Recently, Christianne Amanpour hosted a panel discussion meant to explore the misunderstood delineation between moderate and extremist Islam.

A dichotomy is certainly brought to light in discussion, but considering Amanpour is a staunch Islamic apologist, it is probably not the one she meant to expose.  She likely sought to support the notion that Islam is peaceful, and to advance the belief that only a small contingent of radicals corrupts the faith.  To those ends, she enlisted guests of Christian and Muslim backgrounds for her panel, and I'm fairly certain she expected the Christian guests to attack Islam as an intolerant faith bent on universalizing Sharia, while her Muslim guests and audience members would defend themselves as peaceful practitioners of the tolerant faith of Islam. 

Americans are familiar with the strategy.  It's the standard stuff that tends to make Christians look intolerant and Muslims look misunderstood.

But one portion of the discussion hurls a monkey-wrench into those plans.  When Amanpour addresses the ideas of Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, she has the audacity to question his ideas about Islamic domination.  Choudary proclaims that he disagrees with the entire focus of the segment, and argues that the notions of moderate Islam or extremist Islam are nonsense.  There is only Islam, whose followers "submit to the creator."  Then, in an effort to convey that Islam can live in peace with the Western world, he concludes, "We do believe as Muslims that the east and the west will one day be governed by the Sharia. Indeed we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House."

It is obvious that his statements reinforce what some Christian panel guests believe to be the truth, and that those statements certainly don't support the notion of peaceful and tolerant Islam.

So a Muslim woman in the panel decided to take Choudary to task for his reckless and inflammatory statements, and she went on to instruct him that Islam is a faith of pluralism, and that it provides an allowance of other faiths to exist in a state of equal importance. 

Had she been speaking to the panel's Christian reverend in that moment, she likely could have won the argument just as she has probably won countless others; by merely saying, "I know better than you Christians do about Islam.  I'm a Muslim."  But my guess is that she forgot that she was speaking with someone who had given far more study to the Quran and Hadith than most Christian theologians. 

To her assumption of Islamic tolerance of other faiths and legal systems, Choudary simply suggests that she knows nothing of what Islam desires or requires; she doesn't even have the good sense to cover herself.  Doesn't she know that the Quran forbids her appearance in that way?  So in his eyes, she is not truly a Muslim, as true Muslims are not granted the liberty to sift through Islamic doctrine and select their preferred methods of religious practice.  He even makes the comparison that she is a Muslim in the same way that a person who occasionally eats beef burgers is a vegetarian.

And she cannot argue.  The holy book of her faith does explicitly forbid women to present themselves as she does.

This exchange reveals that cleric Anjem Choudary practices fundamental adherence to Islam in an effort to live in reflection of and submission to the prophet.  Those Muslims who believe in religious autonomy and peace only do so because Western concepts like personal freedoms have somewhat permeated the contemporary practice of a religion that mandates universal submission.  And to the Muslims who read the Quran literally, such augmentation of Quranic instruction is a sin.

So in regards to the child in the Middle East watching this panel discussion on Al-Jazeera, who is he more likely to believe is correct in their way of thinking?  The harlot who does not cover her chest and speaks of the equality of wretched infidels, or the cleric that espouses the will of the prophet?

And that is the true dichotomy exposed in this panel discussion.  It is not as the title of segment implies, "Moderates vs. Extremists."  It would more aptly be called "Fundamentalist Islam vs. the Western world." 

While it is important to note that moderate Muslims do exist, it is imperative that we keep that fact within the proper global context.  Amanpour and liberal pundits the world over can host hundreds of panels comprised of thousands of Muslims that have embraced Western culture, and that will not change the fact that such voices are irrelevant in the Islamic world.  The millions and millions of Muslims that share Choudary's literal belief in fundamental Islam are ultimately compelled to achieve the goal of universal Sharia, or die trying.

William Sullivan blogs at