God's Warriors: Misunderstood Muslims

Islamic radicalsThe second episode of CNN's God's Warriors series aired Wednesday night. I wasn't able to follow the show as closely as on Tuesday night, so I'll provide some general comments rather than "live blogging" the show. Please give feedback since commentary on television news programs isn't something we do that often. This episode started off a lot less violently (at least visually) than the episode on Jewish extremists. As with Tuesday's show, a lot experts gave us the history of complicated situations, but this time it involved things that happened centuries ago and not just decades. Overall, the show covered vast material fairly superficially. One could do 10 hours of programming on Islam. I think it might have been more interesting to focus on a few specific examples of radical Islam, rather than trying to cover Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, the United Sates and Europe.

That was one of the strengths of "God's Jewish Warriors." It was contained to a small tract of land and one nation.

The New York Times' review found the first episode the weaker of the bunch and found value in the show's host, Christiane Amanpour, being confrontational toward the views that offended her:

Tonight's opening installment, "God's Jewish Warriors," seems particularly timid, spending more time than necessary on clips of the Six-Day War and other familiar historical episodes. The warriors are Jews who have forcefully pushed settlements into areas even the Israeli government has placed off-limits, making political inroads at the same time. We've already heard quite a lot from these people; Ms. Amanpour's most interesting contribution is a segment on the fund-raising in the United States that supports them.

"God's Muslim Warriors," tomorrow, is sharper, with Ms. Amanpour finally showing some aggressiveness, on the issue of women's rights under radical Islam, brashly confronting leaders about things like stonings. But mostly she's polite and lets her subjects stay in their comfort zones. The most compelling interview in the segment is not with a radical but with a former radical, Ed Husain. And it turns out he's just hawking a book.

Amanpour's Western values came through clearly in this episode, but I agree with the Times review: Amanpour confronted people politely, not aggressively. It contrasted nicely with her upbringing in Iran.

An article by Gannett News Service's Mike Hughes is more a report about Amanpour's experience researching the project. I found this comment interesting and contrary to what we're shown on the show:

The title shouldn't be taken literally; this is rarely about actual warfare. "Only a ... tiny minority uses violence or terror," says Mark Nelson, head of CNN Productions.

Why would CNN mislabel a show? The title of the show is the major problem for most critics, and now CNN wants us to believe that it is only a superficial title?

Overall I found this show less interesting because of the broad focus on the various strains of radical Islam spread around the Middle East, Europe and (briefly) the United States. I found the part on non-terrorist jihadists in the U.S. the most revealing.

Near the end of the show, Amanpour finally got around to the brutal "holy" murder of Theo van Gogh. The show does a great job contrasting the secular practices of the Dutch with the strict teachings of radical Islam.

I am really looking forward to Thursday's episode on "God's Christian Warriors." I hope to spend more time following and writing on the big finale.

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