Film-work · Interfaith

Alternatives of “The Innocence of Islamic Jihad”

Imran Firasat of The Innocence of Islamic Jihad

Here we go again. The International Business Times reports:

An anti-Muslim animated movie titled The Innocence of Islamic Jihad is set to be released on 4 July, US Independence Day. The film is being produced on the lines of earlier movies such as Innocence of Muslims and The Innocent Prophet, which created widespread unrest. The movie is directed by Pakistan-born anti-Islam activist Imran Firasat who is in Spain as a refugee. He said the movie was based on ‘four major episodes of Jihadi violence in recent times’.

These anti-Muslim films are counterproductive because they do nothing for building bridges of mutual understanding. What are our alternatives? Here me out…

When the Innocence of Muslims came out in September 2012, I was startled at how one sensational film was able to spark violence, hatred, and destruction across the world. Days after its release, I took to the Huffington Post Religion with a new idea I had as it concerned my film, Journey into America. I wrote:

The anti-Islamic propaganda film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ exacerbated the stereotypes and animosities between Americans and Muslims worldwide. The anti-American protests that have swept across the world have proven that for better or worse, one film can make a difference. For this reason I’m informing you about the documentary feature film ‘Journey into America’ (2009) and its subsequent initiative One Film 9/11.

Journey into America release at ISNA convention (2009)
Journey into America release at ISNA convention (2009)

Ironically, we released Journey into America on July 4th, 2009 at the Islamic Society of North America‘s (ISNA) annual conference in Washington, D.C. You can watch the panel discussion here.

This new film The Innocence of Islamic Jihad is being launched on the same day.

The irony with the July 4th release date is obvious: it supposes that there is an inherent clash between American and Islamic values.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have written about this subject on numerous occasions. I have argued that the Prophet Muhammad and the U.S. founding fathers were kindred spirits. I have highlighted some strikingly similar values between the Prophet Muhammad and George Washington in particular (see a video of this topic on my You Tube channel).

In other articles, I have shown how George Washington was a friends to Muslims in his midst and how Muslim Americans veterans have fought bravely for the United States military.

We should be sharing these articles with one another rather than watching The Innocence of Islamic Jihad, which does nobody any good.

To counter The Innocence of Islamic Jihad, we should instead reaffirm the pluralist vision of the founding fathers by watching a productive film like Journey into America. Here is what some critics have said about our documentary:

“Journey into America” reveals how recognition of the humanity of others is key to a civilized society. As interfaith activist Eboo Patel noted, “Journey into America” launches the next generation of bridge-builders, many of whom are non-Muslim Americans working toward strengthening bonds with the Muslim world. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, the first-ever Muslim elected to Congress, called Ahmed’s project “the essential pillar in the effort to building the interfaith bridge of understanding.” Ingrid Mattson, the former president of the Islamic Society of North America, called “Journey into America” refreshing because it takes away the fear and strangeness of encountering strangers, which, again, was essentially the opposite of what Innocence of Muslims attempted to do.

A full list of reviews of Journey into America can be found here.

We have screened Journey into America in several key places since launching One Film 9/11, which has the purpose of screening Journey into America in as many places of religious worship around the world on Sept. 11, 2013 in the hope of improving relations between American and Muslims. One of our team members hosted an event at the University of Cambridge. We have also screened Journey into America at the U.S. Embassy London (read my article on that event at Huffington Post Religion), as well as the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (see the event report here on Muslim, Trust and Cultural Dialogue).

Films like The Innocence of Islamic Jihad and The Innocence of Muslims are designed to tear us apart. Journey into America brings us closer together. Please watch it on September 11th, 2013 and write a short summary of what you thought of the film. You can email it to me at Journey into America is available below:


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