CNN host stunned when radical Muslim cleric makes 9/11 joke during soundcheck
On CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning, host Brian Stelter spoke with radical Muslim cleric Anjam Choudary, who last week got into a fifteen minute-long shouting match with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity.
“Why would you agree to go on a show like [Hannity]?” Stelter asked.
“I don’t believe there’s any platform that shouldn’t be utilized to spread the message of Islam,” Choudary replied. “I know Sean Hannity’s going to interrupt, that he has been rude to some of his guests. But in between that, I can try to spread the message of Islam.”
“At the end of the day,” he continued, “I believe the truth will prevail, and as you can see by the reaction on social media that I won that debate, and that people are listening to what I actually said, and not what Sean Hannity said.”
“I believe that the Shariah is the best way of life,” he also said. “I believe that one day Shariah will come to America and the rest of the world.”
“What I wonder,” Stelter asked, “is aren’t you abusing the press freedoms you would like to see eliminated under Shariah law?”
“No,” Choudary replied. “I believe that Allah created eyes to see, the tongue to speak. Nobody says to you that you have a right to speak — rather, this is a freedom that Allah created, and he gave you the ability to speak. So I don’t abide by the parameters of your acceptable behavior.”
“But this kind of network, this kind of conversation, would not happen under the kind of environment you would like to see exist,” Stelter responded.
Choudary replied that despite the fact that there is no independent media in Syria or Iran, that does not mean that there can’t be an independent media in an Islamic state. He then contended that there is no such thing as “radical” Islam.
“There is no such thing as a radical or moderate form of Islam,” he said. “You know, a woman is either pregnant or not pregnant. If you abide by Islam, and you follow what is in the Koran and the traditions of the prophet — then, quite frankly, you’d never find anything that I say which does not have Islamic basis.”
“So many Muslims would reject what you just said,” Stelter said, “and say that you are warping your religion for terrible purposes.”
“You’ll find that those people who differ from me believe in secularism, freedom — maybe they’re being paid by the government to say what they say,” Choudary replied.
“Now you’re just making up stuff!” an exasperated Stelter nearly shouted.
“No, that is not true all,” Choudary replied. “I’ve been propagating Islam, and I’ve met most of the leaders of the Muslim community, so I know what’s out there. If you go to Muslims who are actually practicing Islam…you’ll find that they say the exact same thing as me. Because I’m not calling for leadership for individuals, I’m calling for leadership for Islam.”
The conversation abruptly ended when Stelter said, “here’s what bothers me: when we were setting up for our interview here, the audio engineer asked you to count to ten to check the mic, and you started to do that — but then you said 9/11, 7/7, 3/11. Is this all some sort of joke to you?”
“You know,” Choudary said, “if you had a sense of humor, you would have laughed at that. It was just a soundcheck. You shouldn’t take any of these things that seriously. If you want to make it a big deal, then do so, but it makes you look much more shallow, really.”
“I have nothing more to say,” Stelter responded.
Watch the entire interview via CNN below.