Here by popular demand (thanks to Vlad) is the audio of a BBC show I was on last Friday morning, after I saw that they were planning to discuss the attempt to bar Pamela Geller and me from the U.K. without bothering to ask either of us what we thought about it. I wrote back: “How typical of the BBC to discuss this without giving us a chance to defend ourselves.” To my surprise, the producer then contacted me and asked me to be on the show.
It was a lot of fun, although I was a bit shaky from being up all night. There are numerous highlights. Don’t miss Nihal, the host, repeatedly asking Nick Lowles of the Left-fascist group Hope Not Hate, which is trying to keep us out of the UK, to come up with even one quote from me demonstrating the “Islamophobia” so wicked as to warrant my being barred from the country. Lowles can’t come up with a single quotation — all he can offer is what he says was the text of an AFDI ad but was actually no such thing.
Don’t miss also, about twelve minutes in, Nihal asking me to give him some passages of the Qur’an and Hadith that I found objectionable. After I gave him a few, he asked an imam whom he had on the program to explain the real meaning of the passages I had mentioned. The imam complained that he wasn’t prepared to do so, and even said that the Qur’an was my field, not his. Nihal responded incredulously, “But you’re an imam!” The imam then repeated the usual tired “out of context” cliches but never offered any context that would render the passages benign.
Much of the discussion ended up centering on my book Did Muhammad Exist?, which Nihal kept trying to get me to say was objectionable as a thesis. I kept answering that there was nothing wrong with historical inquiry, that Jesus had been subjected to it, so why should Muhammad be exempt? At the end of the show the imam said, “He quotes Muhammad, then says he didn’t exist,” and Nihal thought this was an excellent point, but didn’t give me a chance to answer. The obvious response is that Muslims believe he said and did certain things, and so it is important to know the content of the material in order to understand Islamic belief and practice, but it has no more historical value than the stories of Robin Hood. I wasn’t allowed a chance to get that in, but after all, it was the BBC — and a show that was much more fair than their usual standards.