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Glenn Beck

Author, Filmmaker Speaks Out about Problems in Islam

Aired February 09, 2007 - 19:00   ET


GLENN BECK, HOST (voice-over): Irshad Manji, a Muslim woman with an unshakable faith, bold enough to question the doctrines of Islam.

IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR, "THE TROUBLE WITH ISLAM TODAY": Are we willing, are we ready to take even a part of the ownership of what ails Islam?

BECK: At a time when Islam is at the center of war, politics and conflict.

Four years old in Canada, Irshad was raised under the tradition of Islam and under the rule of her very strict father. She began to ask tough questions about her faith and eventually was kicked out of religious school.

She`s the author of "The Trouble with Islam Today" and has a new documentary called "Faith Without Fear".

MANJI: Verses in the Koran and actions of the Prophet Mohammad are being isolated, manipulated to promote violence.

BECK: It explores how Muslims can reform their religion in the 21st century.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is trying to undermine Islam. She is trying to discredit Islam.

BECK: Her critics judge her harshly, and some become her enemies.

MANJI: My home has bullet-proof windows and a lock on the mailbox to prevent letter bombs.

BECK: It doesn`t stop her message. She wants to reclaim the beauty of her faith.

Irshad Manji: documentary maker, author, activist, joins me tonight for honest questions for a full hour.


BECK: I want you to know that I have been asking, like, millions of Americans since 9/11, why are the Muslim voices? Why are they not speaking out? I know why they`re not speaking out, and every time I meet a Muslim who has the courage to do it, I am humbled when I meet them and when I truly listen to them. I beg you, listen to the next hour.

Before I introduce you to this remarkable woman, please do not change the channel, because I truly believe that voices like the one you`re about to hear will fall silent if we do not listen to them. Because of her beliefs and her public statement, there are people in the world, many people who would like to see her dead.

Here is a clip of Irshad`s mother pleading with her to consider the danger she`s in. This is part of her upcoming documentary on PBS.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If something, God forbid, something happens to you, can you just imagine my life without you? Can you just imagine?

MANJI: Look, every day I go through this debate with myself about whether I should have written the book and I should be, you know, doing what I`m doing while you`re still alive, but here`s the problem. I want you to be alive for a very long time. And in the meantime, exactly what you just said, there is so much cruelty in this world, and a lot of that cruelty, mom, is being done in the name of Islam. That does need to change.


MANJI: So until we`re willing...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not disagreeing at all.

MANJI: OK. So how can I stand by and let it happen without putting myself front and center to try and change that?


BECK: Irshad, welcome to the program.

MANJI: Glenn, thanks for having me.

BECK: What`s the message? What`s -- what is the thing that you get up and you say, please hear me?

MANJI: Yes. Islam wasn`t always like this. This insular, this rigid, this narrow, this closed-minded. Islam once had a glorious tradition of critical thinking and independent reasoning known as Ijtihad and we`ll talk a little bit more about that, but here`s the point.

That Islam has the raw material to be reasonable and humane and I am working from within my faith tradition to remind the Muslims of this and to teach non-Muslims of this.

BECK: There are people that would say that you`re -- I mean, you`re not Muslim. You`re destroying the faith. But you are, you`re in it.

MANJI: Well, first of all, nobody has the right to tell anybody who is Muslim or not. We Muslims believe that only God knows fully the truth of anything, and therefore, only God can reward belief or punish disbelief.

But I would also suggest that whoever is saying those things might want to pick up my book and read the foreword, written by an imam, who says that people like me actually live up to what he calls the divine imperative. And that is a passage from the Koran, Islam`s holy book, which states, "Believers conduct yourselves with justice and bear true witness before God" -- and here`s the kicker, Glenn -- "even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your family." This is a call to speak truth to power.

BECK: You know, I meant what I said in the intro. I am -- I saw "Schindler`s List", and I was so moved by that and by the ending, and when he took his ring and said, "How many could I have purchased with this ring?"

MANJI: Right.

BECK: And everybody is crying out, where are those Muslim voices? You and people like you are in so much danger. How much -- how much does fear play a role in silencing the voices of Islam?

MANJI: Huge. And fear of many things. Fear not just of being ostracized in your community, but obviously fear of violence, as well.

You know, Glenn, I speak at university campuses right across not just North America, but around the world. And invariably, young Muslims come up to me afterwards to whisper thank you in my ear. And when I ask them, why are you whispering? They say to me, "Irshad, you know, you have the luxury of being able to walk away from this campus two hours from now. I don`t, and I don`t want to be stalked for supporting your views." And if they`re women, a lot of them say, "I don`t want to be raped for supporting your views."

So this is happening in America, and I don`t want to suggest, Glenn. Let me just be clear. I don`t want to suggest that every Muslim feels this kind of fear. But every Muslim does know that, if you take on the most mangled aspects of our faith today, you will be subject to such a vitriolic smear campaign that it will bring shame and dishonor upon your family. So there is huge pressure to say nothing.

BECK: Is it fair to say that radical Islam is like the mob? That Italians are not all mob members, but there is a -- there is a small group of mob members that are making Italians, or made at one time made Italians look real bad, and it became the stereotypical. And a lot of Italians lived in fear of a very small handful. Is that a good comparison or not?

MANJI: I think it`s an apt comparison with only one exception. It`s true that, obviously, a very thin minority of Muslims ever engages in terror. The problem is that the vast majority of Muslims who call themselves moderates don`t speak up against it, and this actually leads me to a very crucial distinction, which is the distinction between moderates and reform-minded Muslims.

Moderates denounce terror, to be sure, but they say Islam has nothing to do with it. OK. Reform-minded Muslims, of which I consider myself one, denounce terror and acknowledge that the manipulation of religion does play a role.

BECK: So wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. A moderate here would not say that the manipulation of Islam doesn`t play a role?

MANJI: Most moderates say that this is utterly un-Islamic, and therefore, religion plays no role. The problem with just leaving it at that is that you cede the ground, you abandon the ground of theological interpretation to those with malignant intentions.

In other words, if you say that Islam has nothing to do with it, that`s a red flag to the terrorists, who do quote from the Koran. And they know that they now have free reign, because you know what, Glenn? Nobody is coming back to them with competing interpretations.

BECK: Let me back up. Let me find out about your life early on. Your mom and your dad, growing up Muslim. What was that like?

MANJI: You know, I learned something from my father, despite the fact that he was strict or, actually, I would say precisely because he was a strict man, not strict Muslim. He didn`t much practice Islam.

BECK: Wait a minute. Let`s define strict, because I think I grew up in a strict home.

MANJI: Right.

BECK: But I understand that your father threatened to cut off your ears, et cetera.

MANJI: Well, I was going to actually get to that point, that he was a violent man but not because of Islam. He barely practiced Islam. He happened to be a violent human being.

And yes, it`s true that one night after I told him that I would call the police if he threatened to beat my mother again, he responded in the best way he could, which was to pull out a kitchen knife and chase me through the house with that knife, threatening to cut off my ear.

But here`s the thing. I remember running up to my bedroom, scrambling out of the window, crawling up to the top of the roof and spending the entire night there.

As I surveyed my neighborhood, I realized something. I had an epiphany that, that I live in a society that is open-ended, where the conclusion is not yet known, if ever it will be. What precious freedoms I`ve got to author my own destiny.

And I said to myself -- I was maybe ten years old at the time. I said to myself -- not in these words, but the sentiment there was -- that as an individual in a free society I have got the liberty to make choices. I`m going to make the right choices. The choices that will make sure that I never wind up in this situation again.

And I think what I`m really driving at is that my father taught me the distinction between authority and authoritarianism. Authority can be legitimate: teachers, parents so forth. Authoritarianism is never legitimate, because it is, by definition, an abuse of authority. That`s what I`m taking on.

BECK: OK. I want to show another clip from her PBS special, and we`ll be back in a second.


MANJI (voice-over): At one of my speeches a woman hands out pamphlets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop talking about Muslims and Islam all the time.

MANJI (on camera): Can I ask you a question?


MANJI: When you say that you don`t hate me and yet you call me the devil in disguise...


MANJI: And you say keep away from this lunatic deceiver? Do you not think this is hateful speech?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It`s not hateful.

MANJI: No? Only my name is up on top...


MANJI: ... when you say a manipulator of minds, a major deceiver leading to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you are. Yes, you are.




MANJI (voice-over): Ahmed has a son, Habib.

(on camera) Would you be proud to have Habib become a martyr?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It would be my wish for him to die as a martyr, because if I don`t fall as a martyr then he will be able to intercede for his family with God.


BECK: Back with Irshad Manji. That kind of stuff I don`t understand. America doesn`t understand, how do you defeat that without killing them?

MANJI: I and a group of other Muslims have started something called project Ijtihad that I mentioned before the break, this word Ijtihad and it is critical thinking.

And what we are doing with this organization, is we are creating the world`s first leadership network of reform-minded Muslims, precisely, Glenn, so that we can fight back nonviolently. How? By reinterpreting the words of the Koran, not rewriting. Let me very make that very clear, not rewriting the Koran, but reinterpreting those words so that people like Ahmed and his son know that there are other ways of paying tribute to God.

You know, here`s the thing: the Koran contains three times as many verses calling on us to think and analyze and reflect than verses to tell us to retaliate and so it is eminently Islamic to be able to say, "Let`s hash this out through dialogue rather than resorting to violence."

BECK: Tell me, because another thing that seems prevalent in the Middle East with the way it`s being practiced by extremists, it is so -- it is so 12 century when it comes to women and the way women are treated. I mean, I could see being an extremist, you know, if you`re that kind of guy. You`d be like, hey, man, I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you, and you have no rights.

Tell me about the interpretation there and why aren`t you seeing -- why aren`t you seeing the National Organization of Women stand up here and say this is an abomination?

MANJI: Those are two separate questions, and I`ll address the first one right away.

Actually, the Koran contains many verses that support the equality of women. For example, the Koran tells us that women have the choice to get married. If they choose to get married, then the Koran also encourages women to actually draw up a prenuptial contract, Glenn, so that in the event of a major disagreement between husband and wife, the woman`s interests, as she defines them, will be as much protected as the husband`s interests are.

Most Muslim women, forget in America, around the world, do not yet know this, because they are kept illiterate. They don`t realize that it is their God-given right to think for themselves.

So again, Islam has the raw material to be humane. It is we Muslims who are ensuring that the vast majority of our population remain stuck in not 12thcentury, but in seventh century norms.

BECK: Before you get to the National Organization of Women...


BECK: ... let me jump off on this. Here you have some pretty damning things. Has the religion ever been beautiful? Has it ever been...

MANJI: I`m glad you asked that.

BECK: You look at the history, and it`s had just solar flares of remarkable times.

MANJI: Absolutely. And that`s why, by the way, I wanted to correct you when you said 12th century. The 12th century in Islam was brilliant. This was part of the golden age of Islam, when this concept of independent thinking reigned supreme.

You know, there were 135 schools of interpretation back then. Scholars would teach their students to abandon, quote, "expert opinion" about the Koran if their own conversations with the Koran came up with better evidence for their peaceful ideas.

And in one of the most sophisticated cities in the Islamic world, which happened to be in what we now call Spain, there were 70 libraries. Seventy. Now Glenn, that rivals the number of public libraries in most cosmopolitan cities today. Well, guess what, my friend. Islam had this a thousand years ago.

BECK: So what happened? How did it go off the track?

MANJI: Very briefly, toward the end of the 12th century, for entirely political reasons, not spiritual or religious, political reasons, the main Muslim leader at the time, known as the Khalif, cracked down to try to keep the empire, the Islamic empire together.

And in the coarse of crack down and closing ranks the gates of independent thinking were also closed so that the 135 schools of interpretation I just mentioned were deliberately whittled down to only five schools of interpretation. This led to a very rigid reading of the Koran and also to a series of fatwas, meaning legal opinions, that scholars could no longer question.

BECK: I have to tell you, I -- every time I read the history of Islam I think of slavery here in America: keep them dumb. Don`t let them read, you know? That`s the one thing you couldn`t do with the slave, keep them dumb.

MANJI: Right. Right. So that they can`t fight back.

BECK: So they can`t think for themselves and say wait a minute, that`s not what that means.

MANJI: So they don`t know that there are other possibilities. Exactly.

BECK: OK. Real quickly, we have about a minute. What -- who is standing with you as a woman`s organization? Who -- what National Organization of Women is coming up and saying I`m with you?

MANJI: You know there isn`t one.

BECK: Why?

MANJI: Fear. Fear of offending. So many people today in America come up to me to say, "Irshad, I wish I could support your call to reconcile Islam with human rights, but if I do, you know I`ll be called a racist for sticking my nose in somebody`s else`s business."

BECK: May I tell you something?


BECK: I`m so sick of that. I am called a racist, a hate monger. I get death threats. You get death threats. You`ve got bullet-proof glass. You know, there`s a time when you have to stand up.

More on this thought here in just a second. Back in a minute.


BECK: You know, we are -- we`re back with Irshad Manji. You are a Muslim and...

MANJI: Spoken like a good infidel, by the way, Glenn.

BECK: Thank you.


BECK: You are someone who is very outspoken. You`re saying the things that I think most Americans have been waiting for a Muslim to say.

MANJI: And believe me, that damns me. When Muslims hear that I`m saying what most Americans want to hear, that automatically slaps my credibility down.

BECK: You said in the last break that the reason why the National Organization of Women and other groups like them don`t stand by your side is they`re afraid of being called a racist.

MANJI: It is.

BECK: I am overwhelmed. My wife and I actually laid in bed together about six months ago, and I said, "Honey, you know what this means if we continue down this path?"

And she said, "Yes." She said, "Do you believe in what you`re saying?"

And I said, "Yes." And I said, "Do you?"

And she said, "Yes."

And I said, "What do we do?"

She said, "We don`t have a choice."

I don`t think that people really understand how serious the danger is or they will -- they would speak up. We have a danger of being Germany and people being rounded up on trains if we don`t really stand up against this.

How do you change the media? How do you change people, like at the National Organization of Women and say, damn it, pay attention to this?

MANJI: Yes. Well, you empower them by giving them the kinds of questions to ask those who call them racists. Questions that would have never occurred to them.

For example, the next time somebody says to you, "You have no business in this conversation, because you are not Muslim," ask them, "Why are you racially profiling me? That`s basically what you`re doing, is you`re reducing me to my white skin and my non-Muslim heritage. You are telling me that, on demographics alone, I do not belong in this conversation. That`s racial profiling."

And if that`s wrong to do to Muslims, and of course, it is, why is that acceptable to do to non-Muslims?

BECK: I`m being told I hate Arabs.

MANJI: But you`ve made your case very clear that you`ve never condemned an entire culture or even an entire religion. What you are doing is denouncing the individuals who commit these particular atrocities.

And you know what? Reasonable Arabs do the same thing. They also condemn individuals from America, such as your president, whom they argue are terrorists, too.

The point is everybody has a right to finger point, all right? And to make their case without being told that they are, you know, blanketing an entire group of people. If we don`t call out the terrorists, then how is anything going change?

BECK: We live in a PC world. We live in a PC world. We are -- we`re being told on global warming, you can`t ask any questions. This is a fact. And if you do, you`re a hate monger that hates the environment, and you want everybody to burn to death.

MANJI: Right.

BECK: I mean, that`s the culture we live in. How do you change that?

MANJI: By continuing to challenge, by continuing to ask those questions. In other words, by not running away from the accusations and the condemnations.

And, Glenn, I am not the first person to be taking that approach. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was dogged out by those in the black church who said to him, "You are creating needless tension."

And you know what? Instead of walking away with his tail between his legs or begging for forgiveness, he actually wrote in his now famous letter from a Birmingham jail, "I am not afraid of the word tension. I am earnestly opposed to violent tension, but there`s a type of constructive, non-violent tension that is necessary for growth."

BECK: Back in a minute.



BECK (voice-over): Irshad Manji, unshakable in her Islamic faith, vocal in her belief that it must be reformed.

MANJI: Do you not think that`s hateful speech?

BECK: She`s the author of "The Trouble with Islam Today" and has a new documentary called "Faith without Fear." Her goal: to bring Islam into the 21st century. She won`t let anything stop her message, including death threats.


BECK: Back with Irshad Manji. Irshad, before we went into the break a few minutes ago, you were bringing up Martin Luther King and you said he stood up.

MANJI: He did. He was accused of creating needless tension and accused, by the way, not by whites, but by blacks in his own church.

BECK: We know how the story ended.

MANJI: You mean with his assassination?


MANJI: Well, but that wasn`t the end of the story. The grander narrative is that people took up the cause and, to this day, civil rights that we have in America are a beacon of hope for so much of the world. In other words, he`s gone, but his legacy is alive and well.

BECK: I don`t mean to overstate anything, but are you -- in the middle of the night, you`ve had to have these thoughts -- are you willing to have your story end the way his story did?


BECK: Where do you find that?

MANJI: Glenn, fear is not the absence -- sorry, let me say it better. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the recognition that some things are more important than fear, and what`s more important to me is faith, faith not just in the creator, but faith in the capacity of my fellow Muslims to change.

BECK: What is your life like? You live behind bullet-proof glass. You know, I was at Kennebunkport with the Bushes, and they have this beautiful house out on Walker`s Point. And it has this giant chain-link fence right -- I mean, you look at the water through a razor wire chain- link fence. You`re looking through green glass. You`ve got boats on Walker`s Point looking at you all of the time.

And I said to George Bush, "How do you live this way, man? How do you do it?" You are living behind bullet-proof glass. What is that like?

MANJI: If I had my druthers, I wouldn`t even have the bullet-proof glass at home. I do it to protect my family, OK? But me, Glenn, I don`t live in fear. To do that would be to give the enemies of reason and humanity much more ammo than they deserve.

Now, that`s not to say that I go out and court death threats. I truly do not. Whenever I`m doing interviews with Muslim media, for example, I make it very clear to the audience, if any of you wants to kill me, just remember that you will only be making me a martyr for the cause of Islamic reform.

Do you really want to help me sell more books? Do you really want to give me a bigger profile than I`ve got? And I would like to believe that, by putting it that way, I`ll allow people to think, at least once if not twice.

But, you know, I did have a bodyguard for a while, and he said to me that someone who really wants to get you, they`ll find a way. I can`t prevent that, and he was right, which is precisely why I don`t walk around with a bodyguard anymore. I need to show young Muslims that it is possible to dissent with the clerics and live.

And, in order to do that, Glenn, I can`t be a hypocrite. I can`t say to them, "Hey, I want you to do what I`m doing, but I`ll have the benefit of personal security and you won`t. Good luck." No way. You`ve got to lead by example.

BECK: How do you expect to speak to people who are supposedly moderates, but say different things to you on the street? And we can roll a clip. We ran this earlier. Please roll this clip and watch this carefully.


MANJI (voice-over): At one of my speeches, a woman hands out pamphlets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop talking about Muslims and Islam all the time.

MANJI: Can I ask you a quick question?


MANJI: When you say that you don`t hate me and yet you call me the devil in disguise...


MANJI: And you say, "Keep away from this lunatic deceiver," do you not think that`s hateful speech?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it`s not hateful.

MANJI: No? But only my name is up on top when you say the...


MANJI: ... a major deceiver leading to fire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you are. Yes, you are.


BECK: How do you expect to change anybody`s mind when this -- is she radical?

MANJI: Oh, I have no idea, but I am willing to engage with anybody who...

BECK: But what I`m asking you is, here`s a seemingly normal human being.


BECK: Probably not a radical, and yet she says you`re Satan.

MANJI: But you know what, Glenn? She has the right to do that.

BECK: Yes, I understand that. But you know what? It`s one thing when somebody -- you know, when a Christian will say, you know, "That guy`s the devil himself," generally speaking, not universally, but generally speaking that Christian is not then going shoot you or blow you up. You can`t say the same thing. There`s a bigger percentage of Muslims that will.

MANJI: I don`t know that I would put it that way, that there`s a bigger percentage, but this I will say: There`s a much bigger percentage of Muslims who will stay silent when you are threatened than there are Christians who would stay silent, even in the Catholic Church, when you are threatened.

So this is exactly the point that I`m making in my book and in everything I do, that it is not so much the radical terrorists who are, at the end of day, the huge problem, OK? They are a problem, and I`m calling them on it. It is the reasonable center, the so-called moderates who remain silent about it.

And we do have a death threat problem in my faith. It`s absolutely true. You know, I have some of these death threats up on my Web site. And over and over again, I get told from Muslims who write me, in response to them, "Do you really have to put those up? Don`t you realize that it makes us look bad?"

And I`m writing back to them saying, "Where are your priorities? Why aren`t you saying, `How can we allow these people to get away with threatening you for your opinion?`"

BECK: This is what America has been crying out for.

MANJI: I know. I know.

BECK: We don`t have a problem with Islam. We know Muslims. Most of us know Muslims. We know that they`re peaceful, but we see these people come on television after there`s a bombing or some atrocity and they say, "Wait, media, you`re spinning this out of control."

Spinning it out of control? There are dead bodies in the street with somebody who got onto a bus and blew up children, et cetera. How can you be attacking the media or me pointing this out? Why aren`t you saying nutjobs like that need to be stopped?

MANJI: And 2007, Glenn, is going to be a breakthrough year to be hearing exactly the voices that you`re talking about. And I know you`re going to be, at this major conference that is happening right here in America in March, called the Secular Islam Summit, where reform-minded Muslims from around the world will be convening to say exactly that and more.

BECK: OK. We`re going to be back in just a second. I want to talk a little bit more about that. I also want to talk about some of the mail that we got when you arrived here last time when we spent a few minutes together. We`ll be back in a second.


MANJI (voice-over): Illustrations of Hell from 15th-century Persia, women hung by their tongues for mocking their husbands, hung by their hair for letting a wisp of it show, and inciting lust. Late 20th-century Iran, the law lets judges condemn women and even men to stoning for moral sins like adultery.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... that you just want to discredit Islam, you think Islam is an abnormal religion, it should be changed, based upon your opinions.

MANJI: But if the truth is in your conscience and everybody else is saying something different, what are you supposed to do, as a Muslim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you have to see that, "Am I wrong or they are wrong?"


BECK: You know, we were talking -- we`re back with Irshad Manji -- we were talking beforehand. And you said, you know, it`s the middle that stay silent.


BECK: And it`s just a few nuts off the side that are really using Islam for political reasons. Couldn`t agree with you more. I`m paraphrasing you. Do I have it right?

MANJI: Well, yes, but that middle, in staying silent, is complicit in the perpetuation.

BECK: In the same way that Germans were -- not every German was a Nazi, and even the Nazis, not all of them were Mengele -- but they let that thing -- a lot of Germans just said, "Well, it`s not going get that bad. It can`t be that bad. They can`t be doing these kinds of things," and then that whole thing spread.

The comparison with Nazi Germany, there came a time where you couldn`t contain them. You had to kill them. How do you -- do you believe that we have to -- for instance, in Iran, there`s going to come a time when they`re either going to roll over the entire Middle East and try to create this Islamic, global state, or we`re going have to topple that regime and free the people underneath. Do you believe violence to stop violence or not?

MANJI: Glenn, I`m not a pacifist by any stretch, but the only time I believe violence is necessary is when there`s a genocide about to get under way, as there is obviously in Darfur right now. And it breaks my heart...

BECK: Let me ask you...

MANJI: ... that we have not intervened.

BECK: That drives me crazy. Wait a minute. That drives me crazy. We are intervening by trying to stop radicalized Islam.


BECK: If you stop radicalized Islam -- when people say, "Pull out, get your troops out of Iraq," it`s going make Darfur look like a picnic.

MANJI: But here`s the point, Glenn -- and I have to tell you, and I`ve been very public about this, that, you know, I supported the coalition invasion of Iraq for human rights reasons, not because I thought there were WMDs. The United Nations itself issued a special report that got very little media coverage that said the Saddam Hussein regime is the most cruel, the most brutal violator of human rights since Nazi Germany. It was on that basis that I supported toppling him.

But I`ve also made the point very clearly in my book that violence and military hardware will never be enough to change the hearts and minds of people. You`ve got to use what the Harvard professor Joseph Nye has called "soft power."

For example, why haven`t the women of Iraq been given micro-business loans to start their own community ventures, learned to read and write for themselves, you know, build schools? Some of that is happening in Afghanistan, but precious little.

Why haven`t, Glenn, the secularists in Iraq been empowered? This administration, I am heartbroken to say, has empowered the theocrats in Iraq, not the secularists.

BECK: I think, you know, honestly, I think that it was to try to pacify the Middle East by saying, "We`re not trying to create another America." Why wouldn`t we try to create another America, and democracy, and freedom, and install a right to freedom, freedom of religion and speech? Why wouldn`t we want another America?

MANJI: Why wouldn`t we? That`s exactly it. And here`s the thing. In that sense -- and this is the great irony of all -- the Bush administration has become little more than the left in this country, in the sense that they`ve said, you know, we don`t want to impose our culture on you, right, so we will allow Sharia law, Islamic law, to have greater predominance in your constitution.

That`s what the left is saying. That`s what the neocon administration of this country are saying. Go figure.

BECK: OK. Bobby wrote in last time you were on, and we got a lot of mail like this. "It seems like you`re speaking out about moderation in Islam, but more specifically with regards to the treatment of women. Problem is that you appear on a show with a racist, bigot, Muslim-hater like Glenn Beck. Your message loses credibility among Muslims whose opinions you`re trying to change. Instead of bringing attention to your message, people, such as me, are more concerned why any Muslim or decent human being would appear on a show like this."

MANJI: For Bobby, the personality of the host seems to be far more important than the urgency of the human rights abuses that we are bringing to light. I would humbly suggest that Bobby`s attitude is the real problem here, not the fact that you are the host of this show. Let`s do a thought experiment here, Glenn.

BECK: Wait a minute. I think you`re telling Bobby that I am a racist, bigot Muslim-hater.

MANJI: I`m saying that that is -- no, no, no. Hold on a second, Glenn. I`m saying that that is not even the issue, and I`ll tell you why, because, with or without you, there would still be, you know, an average of three honor killings a day in Pakistan. And that is according to Amnesty International, hardly a racist, bigoted organization.

With or without Glenn Beck, black Muslims, and not just Christians, in Darfur, would be enslaved, and raped, and slaughtered, all with the express support of a government that calls itself Islamic.

Glenn, thought experiment. If you left the scene today, would the Muslim world suddenly shatter its silence about this genocide, a genocide being perpetrated by our own against our own? Of course not. And, you know, I figure that, if we Muslim had our priorities right, we wouldn`t need the Glenn Becks or, for that matter, the irritated Irshad Manjis to be shedding light this complacency.

BECK: This came from a blog. "In Islam, there are two things which are absolutely mandatory, cannot be sacrificed or questioned. Here`s one example of where Manji`s beliefs deviate from Islam, not mainstream Islam or fundamentalist Islam, but Islam itself. Muslim belief requires believing that the Koran is the literal word of God, but Manji questions its literalism. You can`t reform your way out of that belief."

MANJI: I`m flabbergasted that this supposedly moderate -- and I guess it just goes to prove my point about the problem with moderates in my religion today -- doesn`t acknowledge, as I said earlier, that the Koran contains many, many verses that call on us to think, rather than to take the letter of the law as it is.

It`s the spirit of the Koran, not the letter of the Koran, that is actually, you know, promoted in the Koran itself. So, you know, maybe I`m being literalist, too, by saying that I`m looking at all of the verses that tell us to reflect, but that doesn`t mean that we can`t suspend critical thinking. Quite the opposite: We have to have it. We have to have it, because the multiplicity of our world pays tribute to the majesty of the creator.

BECK: You may have already answered this, but I still can`t -- twice this week, I`ve sat with Muslim women or one that used to be a Muslim that is -- they`re speaking out, and they both have serious security issues.

MANJI: Why do you keep coming back to that, Glenn?

BECK: Because I cannot -- because it`s almost like it proves me wrong. I say it is 10 percent or less that is radicalized, and yet your voice is so alone in the wilderness.

MANJI: No, no, no, no, no. I am louder than most, it`s true, but here is the reality. After my book came out, my e-mail inbox overflowed, not with death threats, but with messages from young Muslims in the Middle East begging me to get the book translated into Arabic so that they could share these ideas with their friends.

I subsequently did. To date, more than 165,000 downloads and counting. And when I was in Cairo, Egypt, for the first time last May, I can`t begin to tell you how many young Muslim men, and not just women, approached me to express their gratitude. They said that they`re reading it, it`s making the rounds of the democracy movement, and that they`re joining the call for reform.

BECK: We`re going to give you some of the voices that will be heard here in America soon at a conference. We`ll give you all of the details, next.


BECK: Wrapping up our full hour with Irshad Manji, you have not seen the last of her. I am thrilled to announce that we`re going to be together -- she has invited me, and I`m going go down, and we`re going broadcast from the Secular Islam Summit in St. Petersburg. It`s Monday, March 5th.

What exactly is the summit? And what should we expect?

MANJI: What you can expect to see are Muslims from around the world - - for the first time in history, I believe -- coming together, openly and publicly, to say that Islam must be opened up and reconciled with freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression.

And that`s obviously a huge statement to make. And you better believe that there will be a lot of people there who are living under the kinds of daily threats that I`m living under, except I have the privilege of doing this from a free part of the world. Many of them don`t. So kudos to our heroes.

BECK: I will tell you, I talked to one of the organizers there. She told me, "All through the `90s, I spoke out against the Taliban, and I lost my two best friends to the Taliban. I`ve lost my father in a jail in Iran, and nobody is listening, nobody is listening. They`re finally starting to wake up." I mean...

MANJI: And, I`m sorry to say, Glenn, that it took 9/11 for, not just Americans, but for the world to wake up to what`s going on. I never want to suggest that, you know, there`s a silver lining to 9/11 -- my God, 3,000-plus people perished -- but I will say that, were it not for 9/11, I don`t even think my book would have been published.

BECK: Oh, I could guarantee it wouldn`t have. You know what? To be real honest with you, I didn`t know what was going on in the Middle East. And really...

MANJI: Sure. And many people didn`t care.

BECK: ... honestly didn`t care.

MANJI: Exactly right. Exactly right.

BECK: I remember them blowing up the statues, you know, the big Buddha statues in Afghanistan and went, "How stupid is that?" And then I moved on with my life.

MANJI: Yes, yes.

BECK: Didn`t even take the time to figure out who the Taliban was, didn`t see it coming.

MANJI: It reminds us, you know, that we do not live in splendid isolation of each other, that what happens thousands of miles away will, in fact, affect us, for better or for worse. Let`s put the actions in place to make it for the better, shall we?

BECK: We`ll see you then.

MANJI: I hope so.

BECK: And your special is airing on PBS when?

MANJI: April the 19th.

BECK: We`ll be there.

MANJI: Thanks. God bless.

BECK: Have a great weekend. We will see you again Monday.