San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - The Department of State is through its website - http://www.america.gov/st/peopleplace-english/2009/August/200908201621542sademahom0.5717584.html - promoting a propaganda film, Journey into America which treads on the tired cliché that the United States is the biggest impediment to any rapprochement between the West and the Muslim world.
Lead architect of the movie is Akbar Ahmed, a professor occupying the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington.
Before his film making career, for a brief time Ahmed also served as the Pakistani high commissioner to London.
Though he has gained a reputation as a moderate, he serves more correctly as a simple defender of Islam, incapable of admitting the obvious link between jihadist terror - or any associated behavior - and the Qur'an.
For example, in a class discussion at William & Mary, Ahmed exonerated Islam from any guilt in the practice of "honor killings," blaming it instead on tribalism, "If there is a case of shame and honor, and a woman is involved, it will be tribal law that will prevail," Ahmed said. "Tribal law even trumps Islamic law. Tribal law is swift. It often is brutal, and it's often anti-female." [source, http://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2009/akbar-ahmed-in-class-with-tamara-sonn-003.php]
In an interview with ABC News conducted just one week after September 11, 2001, Ahmed again demonstrated his penchant for shielding Islam from any questions which might reflect poorly on the religion.
Byrne: But you talk as if it could be different. I mean, many people would look at phenomena like suicide bombing for instance, and say this notion is utterly alien to our culture - it's not just interpreted by the Taliban, it is an alien notion.
Ahmed: Yes, but do you know that this is absolutely and utterly alien to Islam itself? Do you know that Islam forbids suicide? Do you know that Islam forbids specifically, categorically the taking of a single innocent life...
Byrne: Well, not in Iran, not in Iraq, not in Palestine...
Ahmed: No, no, no, wait a minute. No, no wait a minute. In the Koran - the holy book - there is a specific verse which says that killing one individual is equivalent to killing all of humanity. Now if it is so strong then we have to ask ourselves what is driving these people to violate their own holy book. That is the question we have to ask. So it isn't Islam that is driving them to these acts - these are the social and political conditions within which they live which are driving them to these desperate acts." [source, http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/stories/s372713.htm]
Ahmed's defense of Islam is thus all inclusive, denying any link between the religion and jihad. In this mindset, those who carry out these attacks can't be Muslim, they are driven instead by exogenous factors such as alienation, poverty and lack of opportunity.
Ahmed's credentials as a moderate are also belied by his membership on the Board of Directors of CSID, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, "a U.S.-based group that was created by board members and former staff of the American Muslim Council [AMC] a radical pro-Saudi group that largely ceased operations after its former chairman, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was jailed last October on terrorist-related charges." [source, http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1650]
It goes without saying that the AMC's support of Palestinian radicalism including Hamas and Hezbollah is mirrored in the CSID.
It is Ahmed's biases which serve as the central focus of Journey Into America, with Frankie Martin, one of those featured in the movie stating that the biggest threat to the Muslim world consists of, "perceptions of Islam in the United States, negative perceptions in the United States." [source, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nge6zpKR3aA]
Additionally, Ahmed's blog suggests that Islam is the aggrieved party in Huntington's clash of cultures, "Years after September 11 we are still looking for answers. Akbar Ahmed, the internationally renowned Islamic scholar, knew that the question could not be answered until Islam and the West move past the hatred and mistrust escalated by globalization and the war on terror."
Though renown as a highly literate scholar of Islam, Ahmed's body of work seems more akin to apologetics and there is nothing about his newest work to suggest otherwise.
Sadly the State Department, in hyping Journey Into America, does a disservice to its mandate, promoting disharmony and religious pandering in the name of pluralism.