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CAIR intimidates Fox TV

By Robert Spencer
web posted January 31, 2005

Henry Ford would sell you a car in any color you wanted, as long as it was black, and network TV can depict terrorists of any kind, as long as they aren't Muslim.  Fox TV's 24 is a drama about a terrorist hunter, Jack Bauer. During the show's lifetime, Bauer has gone up against Bosnian terrorists, German terrorists, South American terrorists, and terrorists from a shadowy and evil Halliburton-like conglomerate.  But recently 24 has gotten into hot water by featuring Muslim terrorists — or at least terrorists who look Middle Eastern.  But while no Bosnian, German, South American or Halliburton exec contacted the network to complain about the way they were portrayed on the show, when Fox ventured into Islamic terror territory the network immediately aroused the ire of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

It is astounding that anyone would be offended by a fictionalized portrayal of the terrorist group that actually has perpetrated the largest terror attack, or attack of any kind, on American soil, but these are confused times. Sabiha Khan of CAIR's Anaheim Chapter worried that 24's Muslim terrorists would "contribute to an atmosphere that it's OK to harm and discriminate against Muslims.  This could actually hurt real-life people."  CAIR scheduled a meeting with Fox executives in Los Angeles to air their concerns.

Meanwhile, IslamOnline, a popular Muslim news portal run from Qatar, had its own ideas as to who was behind 24's introduction of Muslim terrorists.  Fox Entertainment Group, it said, was "part of Jewish billionaire Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation."  It asserted that 24's new plot direction was "hailed by Jewish groups and lobbyists as a bid to reveal Muslims' ‘true nature,'" and noted that "Jewish writer Daniel Pipes wrote in the Israeli Jerusalem Post and the American New York Post hoping Fox would not bow to Muslim objections on the series."

IslamOnline dropped "Jewish" from in front of "billionaire Rupert Murdoch" when informed that Murdoch is not, in fact, Jewish, but the implication of the article is still clear: 24's introduction of Muslim terrorist characters was yet another in a long line of Jewish conspiracies.

It is frequently a bit of knee-jerk paranoia on the part of the defenders of Islamic jihad that anyone who opposes them must be Jewish.  This paranoia about the Jews is nourished by the Qur'an's portrayal of them as crafty, untrustworthy — and accursed.  And, of course, today jihadists would have us believe that the trouble between Muslims and non-Muslims is all with respect to Israel.

Although I am not Jewish, I have frequently been labeled as such by Muslim spokesmen who evidently can't conceive of a non-Jewish opponent of jihad ideology.  Victor Davis Hanson and Paul Marshall both have told me that they, too, have been labeled Jewish by Muslims after they wrote about Islamic jihad.  One day perhaps such Muslim writers will awaken to the fact that the jihad ideology and the depredations of dhimmitude have won them a considerably larger spectrum of opponents than they care to imagine.

But the shadowy "Jewish groups and lobbyists" evidently dropped Fox's puppet strings, because even before network execs met with CAIR, the producers of 24 removed from the show some material that they were afraid might stereotype Muslims.  Fox would not let me see the deleted material or describe it to me.  Nor would anyone there speak on the record to me about their meetings with CAIR and the changes to 24; however, I was able to locate an informed source who told me that later in the season, 24 is planning to feature an American Muslim character that CAIR would find more to their liking.  Fox also agreed to distribute to Fox's affiliates a CAIR Public Service Announcement about American Muslims, although the affiliates would not be obligated to run it during the broadcast of 24 or at any other time.

But why was Fox playing ball with CAIR in the first place?  Were the execs who met with CAIR representatives aware that three of its officials have been arrested for various terrorist-related activities?  Yes, said the source, that is a matter of public record.  Are they aware that CAIR founder Nihad Awad helped establish CAIR after working at the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), where he was public relations director; or that former FBI counterterrorism official Oliver Revell has called the IAP "a front organization for Hamas that engages in propaganda for Islamic militants"?  Did they know that Awad himself has declared:  "I am in support of the Hamas movement"?  Well, yes, said the source, they were aware of allegations that CAIR had some links, however tenuous, with Hamas, but they judged the organization's complaints upon their merits.  That's what Fox always does, he said:  Fox considers not the source of a complaint but the worthiness of the complaint itself.

So if the Ku Klux Klan called Fox to complain about some show depicting redneck racists would that complaint, too, be judged not upon its source, but upon its merits?  Only Fox's frightened executives can answer that — but at this point they are keeping mum.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch, author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books), and editor of the forthcoming essay collection The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: Islamic Law and Non-Muslims (Prometheus).


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