In an exclusive interview, the Pakistan-born anti-Islam activist Imran Firasat speaks about his latest controversial documentary, The Innocent Prophet - Life of Muhammad from the Point of View of an Ex-Muslim.
IBTimes UK: What is your intention behind the initiative?
Imran Firasat: My sole intention is to reveal the other side of reality of Muhammad´s character which I think is true. In my opinion Islam was created by Muhammad in order to gain his own objectives and now it is the time to come out of that illusion.
IBT: Is the movie based on facts or does it include elements of drama?
Firasat: The movie is based on real facts, but there is also a kind of Bollywood drama to make it more attractive. I don't want people to feel bored and shut down their computers after 10 minutes. I want them to cling to it until the movie ends. But the movie is completely based on true facts. No lie has been used.
IBT: Are you sure these facts are irrefutable? Did any Islamic scholar help you?
Firasat: Why do we have the misconception that only Islamic scholars can teach us correct things about Islam? They are not born with the Islamic knowledge and they learn it in their practical life like any other Muslim.
It is important to mention that I have been a Muslim for 26 years and was part of the Islamic society and system for the same duration. That is why I do not need to confirm the facts with any scholar. All the facts are in the Koran, hadiths [interpretations of the Koran] and several historical books. I just present those same facts through a different point of view. Islamic scholars will never admit what is wrong about Islam. They always try to cover up the dubious character of Muhammad.
Here are some facts I have mentioned in my movie:
- Muhammad married a six-year-old girl (Koran)
- Muhammad had 11 wives, despite the fact that Islam allows a maximum of four marriages (Koran)
- Muhammad initiated several wars (Koran and hadiths)
- Mohammad ordered to hate infidels (Koran and hadithes)
- Muhammad left women suffering and discriminated against for [their] whole life through his own laws which appear in the Koran.
That is why I [that to know] the truth of Islam, I didn't have to contact an Islamic scholar. My own knowledge and experience of 26 years of being a Muslim was sufficient for expressing my point of view on Muhammad´s life and character.
IBT: Apart from Terry Jones [the anti-Islamic American evangelist pastor], who else was involved in the project?
Firasat: Many people are supporting us. Almost all the messages I receive are of support and encouragement. That shows it is an important topic and people want to hear about it. But Dr Terry Jones is my principal partner.
IBT: Did/Do you receive any threats over the movie release?
Firasat: Receiving threats from Muslims is nothing new for me. [For] seven years I have been receiving threats of being killed because of my critical view of Islam. I have been framed by Muslim countries [and accused] of committing crimes so they could take me to their land and execute me for exposing Islam.
But luckily I [have over]come all that because I was on the side of truth. But I believe [that] for changing the world, someone must raise their voice and [make a] sacrifice. Suffering is part of the battle for the truth. That is why I would expose Islam and Muhammad until my last breath.
Maybe before I die, I can show Muslims that the way of jihad they are following (taught by Muhammad) is not a right way and that they should embrace the way of love and humanity for their salvation and for the world peace.
IBT: Can you be more specific? Did you get any threats from an Islamic group, say the Taliban or al-Qaida, pertaining to this movie release?
Firasat: I have received threats from individuals, groups, from different countries and in several languages. Almost all the threats have been [related] to the Spanish authorities by me.
There were several threats from the Indonesian Islamic groups like Majelis Ulama or Hiazbut Tahrir. But organisations like Taliban or al-Qaida may have threatened me but without mentioning their organisation's name. I receive threats almost every day, so I don't know where these people from are.
Recently I [have received] threats from India, Pakistan and many Arab countries over my movie release. But as I said before, I am not going to give up because of threats and unjustified violence committed by Muslims.
IBT: I understand you have postponed the release date. When might be the tentative release?
Firasat: Seven years ago I was granted refugee status in Spain for the reason that I used to criticise Islam. It has been seven years since that I have taken the fight against Islam very far. And my right to freedom of expression was always respected by this great country. But now suddenly for doing the same thing which I have been doing since for the last seven years, I have been threatened by the authorities [and told] that my refugee status will be revoked, I will be deported back to Pakistan where the death penalty for blasphemy is waiting for me and that I may be detained if I continue with the plans to release the movie.
That is the reason I have decided to postpone it temporarily.
IBT: What made the Spanish authorities 'suddenly threaten' you? What could be the reason?
Firasat: That's a very funny, interesting and surprising question for me even. Why now? I was granted asylum because of my criticisms of Islam. I have formally asked the Spanish government for the prohibition of Koran in Spain. I have given thousands of interviews to radio and TV channels. I wrote articles in newspapers.
But I was never told by anyone that what I am doing is illegal. Now suddenly they try to revoke my refugee status, detain me and prosecute me for offending Muslims' religious sentiments. Why? There may be two reasons: Fear of violence by Muslims abroad and in Spain, and conflicts in diplomatic relations with Islamic countries which are investing in Spain.
All of what [the] Spanish authorities are doing is not according to the law but according to their personal desires. Ministers are human, not god.
IBT: Did you get any specific response from the Spanish authorities over the situation?
- Threat of revoking refugee status
- Threat of detention
- Prosecuting me for inciting hate and discrimination
I have no worries about these funny activities of the new Spanish government. I know Spain very well. This is not the Spain where I arrived seven years ago and where there was complete liberty of expression.
IBT: Do you foresee any violence due to the movie, as happened because of the Innocence of Muslims?
Firasat: The Spanish authorities say that there will be violence over my movie. But I am not asking anyone to initiate violence. Those are Muslims who like to do riots, burning, and killing. I am simply expressing my view peacefully which I believe is my fundamental right for being part of a democratic country.
Muslims should understand that everyone has the right to express his opinion and that they should have enough capacity to bear the truth or ignore it. Committing violence is nonsense. And because of their unjustified violence, we can't stop speaking truth. The day we lose our right of freedom of expression, we lose our democracy and Western values.
IBT: Is it morally fitting for you to produce such a movie when you are almost certain that it will be provocative?
Firasat: Who says that my movie is provocative? Why do people have their mind set that everything about Islam is mocking and [an] insult? Why can't the world take it as a personal opinion? Why not give people [the] chance to express what they think is true?
My purpose behind making this movie is to express my view on Islam as an ex-Muslim. I never had and will not have [the] intention to hurt someone's feelings. Instead of stopping me, the world should give suggestions to Muslims that you guys stop creating the violent game over small excuses.
The world is modern. We have [the] internet and social networking sites. Everyone is free to do what he wants. Muslims kill Christians, persecute Hindus, and destroy churches and mandirs [temples] - that is right. But if people like me protest about their violent ideology then we are criminals. I knew that being a jihadist is a crime. But it is [the] first time in my life [that] I came to knew that fighting against jihadists is also a crime.
IBT: What is the exact message of the movie?
Firasat: The movie is all about Prophet Muhammad´s life, [from] his birth until his death. This is the first movie which even talks about his suffering, his pain and his loneliness. I try to show how the circumstances converted him into a man who later invented Islam, jihad etc for gaining his own interests.
And the main message of the movie from the author is Muslims should give serious thought to their future with Islam [and], leaving the way of jihad. Stop persecuting women in the name of Islam and stop hating people who are non-Muslims.