I recently had the pleasure of speaking with the tireless ex-Muslim cartoonist and author Bosch Fawstin. If you’re unfamiliar with Bosch’s work, this is a great place to start, but be sure to check out my 2015 TOS interview with him; Joshua Lipana’s review of the first chapter of his graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman; and Nicholas Provenzo’s review of his latest book. If you’d like to support Bosch’s efforts to educate people about the true nature of Islam and to defend free speech, consider becoming a patron of his work through Patreon. —Craig Biddle
Craig Biddle: Great to chat with you again, Bosch. It’s been a while since we last spoke, and I look forward to catching up and hearing about your recent work and future projects.
To begin, because some of our readers may not know much about you, say a few words about yourself and your work. Who is Bosch Fawstin? What does he do? And why does he do it?
Bosch Fawstin: Thanks for reaching out again, Craig. I always enjoy speaking with you.
I’m a cartoonist. I write and draw single cartoons, comic books, and graphic novels. I also write essays to accompany my cartoons on topics such as free speech, Islam, jihad, and the left.
I’m the winner of the first Mohammad cartoon contest, and I was announced as the winner at a Mohammad art exhibition in Garland, Texas. Two jihadists who came to murder the attendees got their heads blown off by a cop, as a security guard there put it, and my life has not been the same since.
Although I have no regrets, and I will defend free speech to the death, the path I’ve chosen comes with loss, in a number of ways, and it has made my life more difficult. But I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Biddle: I know I speak for many people when I say thank you for being such a stalwart defender of free speech. You are the only person who does what you do. Your work comes with death threats and murder attempts. It also helps to defend everyone else against such mayhem by addressing and discrediting the mysticism that underlies and gives rise to it.
Tell me about your view of Islam, your history in the religion, and why and how you got out of it.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you putting it that way. It’s a far cry from how I’m usually described, and not just by my enemies but even by those who should know better.
Islam is an evil ideology, a political religion that has retarded the humanity of everyone under its thrall. Just look at the countries who live by its “ethics,” and you’ll understand that it should be in the dustbin of history. Yet it persists. And it destroys human lives. It destroys the lives of those who try to live by it. And, by motivating some of them to commit atrocities, it results in the destruction of many more lives.
If you want to see Islam in practice on a day-to-day basis, I direct you to the website TheReligionOfPeace.com, which posts about the deaths and injuries caused by Islam’s true believers every single day. When I post a screenshot of the website’s weekly and monthly tallies, I get a good number of “shocked” emojis in response. And these reactions come from people who follow my work and are thus familiar with the horrors caused by Islam. Even they are shocked to see the relentless carnage. Most Western media ignore these events.
I just checked the site today, and from the week of November 2 through 8 , 151 people were murdered and 167 injured in twenty-six attacks in thirteen countries. But the media don’t report this, nor do they ever identify the true nature of Islam, and so the vast majority of people remain ignorant of it all.
As for my history with Islam, I was born to Albanian Muslim parents in the Bronx, New York, and I was raised Muslim. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Although many people today would describe my parents and my larger Muslim family as “moderate Muslims,” there was nothing moderate about the hatred for Jews or the abuse of women in my family. In Islam, Jews are regarded as descendants of apes and pigs and fit to be slaughtered, and women are considered a necessary evil, to be used for sex and to bring male Muslim heirs into the world.
The thing that made me question it all was the sharp contrast between my life at home and my life at school and with my friends. After learning about the Holocaust in school, I began to recoil every time a relative praised Hitler, whom I now refer to as Islam’s favorite infidel. And seeing my friends treat all people as people made me challenge the Islamic view that some are not. So in my mid-teens I quietly left Islam. There was no hard break, no one thing that did it, just the fact that it was ugly and that people involved in it lied about so much. That led me to see there was nothing there for me, nothing good.
In time, I came to love superhero comic books and to understand that fighting evil, including evil ideas, is important, and that only the good can fight evil. The only place I saw this happening was in superhero stories and, later, in novels. A few years later, I discovered Ayn Rand’s work, which I loved. I saw her fiction as the peak of the heroic fiction genre, her nonfiction as clearly correct, and both as powerfully uplifting. Nothing has come close since.
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Biddle: I’d say that when you speak of Islam, you know of what you speak. And you are in a tiny minority of people who have left Islam in search of rational ideas and a good life—and then found and adopted Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Tell me more about how Rand’s ideas have affected your thinking—both in general and with regard to your understanding of the nature of religion as such and of Islam in particular.
Fawstin: You’re right; I am rare in leaving Islam and adopting Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. It’s worth noting that the ex-Muslims I know are atheists or “humanists” or Christians. Come to think of it, I don’t know of any ex-Muslims who’ve become Jews, which I guess just goes to show that Islam has so thoroughly poisoned the well on Jews and Judaism that even ex-Muslims think that adopting Judaism is a bridge too far.
Rand’s ideas have affected my thinking in countless ways. I was a smart kid, and I was honest, but I didn’t have a life-serving system of philosophy to guide my choices and my growth. Rand’s work challenged me to think, to rethink, to see things in a new way, to see things as they are. I’m not one of those people who says that Rand merely wrote what I always thought. She did far more than that. She created a revolutionary philosophy—a monumental feat by an extraordinary mind.
I love the truth, and here was a woman who wrote the truth and nothing but the truth, in a way that no one else ever has. I found her deeply philosophical fiction and heroes exhilarating. There are fictional heroes, there are superheroes, and then there are Ayn Rand’s heroes, who make nearly all others pale by comparison. Here was a thinker who took ideas seriously—deadly seriously—and wrote as if her life depended on it.
As for how her philosophy affected my thinking regarding Islam, I would say that my concern for truth led me out of Islam, my continued pursuit of truth led me to Objectivism, and Objectivism has enhanced my ability to understand and champion truth and to identify and reject its antitheses. Islam is squarely in that latter category.
Objectivism helped me to see that all religions are irrational; all require faith from their adherents, and all religious “prophets” are liars. But the particularly violent nature of Mohammad, as compared to the other prophets, is an important difference to take note of, especially during this era of global jihad. The fact that Mohammad—who is regarded by Muslims as the perfect model of a man—spread Islam by the sword explains why Muslims are more violent than other religionists. And this violence is demanded by the religion—not by any perversion of the religion, but by the clear meaning of its scriptures. The problem is Islam—not “Islamism” or “extremist Islam” or some “hijacked” version of the religion. Just Islam.
By the way, I wrote an essay in 2010 dealing with this dangerous name game we’re playing with Islam, titled “Calling Islam Islam,” which I recommend to anyone who is under the impression that Islam is not the ideology of jihadists.
Many people conflate religion with morality and so argue that because Islam advocates immoral acts, it is not a religion. I wrote another essay recently, published in the second volume of My Mohammad Cartoons, which deals with this claim. I discuss why Islam is a religion, and why denying this is self-defeating and only helps the Islamic enemy.
At the top of my cartoon accompanying that essay, I wrote: “If this war comes down to Islam versus Christianity, then ‘Kill the infidels wherever you find them’ versus ‘Love thy enemy/Turn the other cheek’ is a war between a homicidal religion and a suicidal religion—a war that guarantees the West’s defeat.” The essay delves into post-9/11 politics. Leftists and conservatives are essentially indistinguishable in their appeasing, altruistic foreign policies, and their defense of Islam (i.e., “the religion of peace”) is absolute whereas their defense of America is conditional and tepid at best. These policies give our enemies hope that they can win. It’s not Islam that makes the enemy believe they can win; it’s our weakness, our refusal even to name Islam as the essence of the problem—never mind attack it.
Biddle: What are your top three recommendations for people who want to help fight Islam, expose its true nature, and get adherents to drop it?
Fawstin: The first thing is to study Islam before discussing it, so you won’t confuse yourself or others about exactly what it is we’re dealing with. The reason we have yet to respond to the Islamic enemy in a rational way in this war, and why it remains undefeated, is because many fail to acknowledge or face the actual nature of the Islamic threat.
The second thing is to tell the truth, by whatever means you can, in whatever medium you can. Say what this thing is. That is the single most powerful way to put a crack of doubt in people’s minds and get them to question their beliefs about Islam. So many in the West, especially intellectuals and journalists, have been lying to Muslims, saying that their religion is fine and that it’s only the so-called extremists who are the problem. That’s dangerous nonsense. When I hear this, I remember my own experience as a young Muslim, doubting its moral standing. I can only imagine how confusing it is for Muslims who grasp that something is wrong with their religion, with their way of life, but who hear it praised by outsiders as “a religion of peace” and the like.
Muslims need to confront Islam’s true nature and what it calls for. Many who attain more than a superficial understanding of the Koran end up abandoning Islam. So one of the most effective things advocates of reason can do is get a clear, firsthand understanding of the nature of Islam, and then communicate that far and wide.
The third most important thing is to repeat the truth, again and again and again. Resistance to the truth surrounding this issue is huge and is fed by leftist intellectuals, coreligionists (Christians and Jews), and the media. I’ve learned during these past dozen years that I’ve been active in writing and drawing against Islam and jihad that I constantly have to restate the truth as if I have never spoken it or written it before. Breaking through the resistance requires repeating the truth in various ways and from various angles until people get it. Some never will. Some are closed to the truth. But even those who are open to it often need to hear it over and over to break through the resistance to moral absolutism and moral judgment that Western culture has fostered for so long.
Biddle: Know the truth, speak the truth, repeat the truth. Amen. I sure would like to see more of that—on this subject and so many others.
Reading and sharing your books are effective means toward those ends, so please say a few words about the books you’ve written or illustrated as well as any current or future projects you can mention.
Fawstin: I released my first book in 2004, which was a graphic novel titled Table for One, a story that takes place in one night in an Italian restaurant. It was nominated for an Eisner Award, which are commonly called “the Oscars of Comics.”
I then began working on my second graphic novel, The Infidel, featuring Pigman, which takes on Islam, Jihad, and political correctness. As I worked on the story, I created images of the main characters in it for my blog, which I then ended up collecting in my second book, ProPiganda: Drawing the Line Against Jihad, published in 2009, along with a number of essays I’d written on the Islamic threat. I then released the first chapter of The Infidel in 2011 in comic book form. It will end up being about seven chapters. Once they’re finished, I intend to compile all of the volumes in a pigskin-leather bound hardcover book.
In April 2018, I released my third book, My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 1, and My Mohammad Cartoons Vol. 2 followed in April 2019. All of my collections include essays I’ve written on related topics, such as free speech and particular aspects of the Islamic threat.
In early 2019, I released the first volume of my series Peaceful Death Threats, and I’ll release volume two soon. I have enough death threats for at least four volumes, and these are only the “best” death threats of the thousands that I’ve gotten. I title them Peaceful Death Threats because a good number of the Muslims who threaten me with death over my Mohammad cartoons also feel the need to mention how peaceful they and Islam are, which is as Islamic as it gets. I think publishing the death threats, along with the names and faces of the Muslims making the threats, is a good way to show that the problem is Islamic culture at large, not just the so-called extremists. And because I received the threats for publishing Mohammad cartoons, I thought it was only fitting to create new Mohammad cartoons to publish alongside the threats in these books.
I’m currently working on three other books. Islam Bitches is about Islamophiles. I draw politicians and celebrities dressed in Islamic garb along with their particularly dishonest quotes about Islam. To further show these Islamophiles the kind of “respect” they deserve, I have Mohammad dressed as their pimp, introducing each of them by name.
There’s also Illustwriter: The Art of Bosch Fawstin, my biggest book yet, which collects thousands of pieces spanning a dozen years, including cartoons, book covers, and unpublished art.
Finally—and I think this might be the first time that I’ve ever discussed this publicly—I’m illustrating a children’s Koran. I’m told by the writer, Kåre Bluitgen, that the title likely will be “The Shady Garden,” and that it will be about two hundred pages.
Kåre Bluitgen is the Danish writer who had been searching for an artist to illustrate his book since at least 2005. Flemming Rose attempted to help him find Danish artists who were willing to draw Mohammad, which led to the Mohammad cartoon “crisis.” I learned recently that Bluitgen was still searching for an artist, so I contacted him, and I’m doing it.
The truth about Islam condemns Islam, and I think this book is a good way to show that truth in visual form, where I draw Mohammad, his child “bride” Aisha, Allah, Islamic hell, and so forth, in ways not seen before—all of which is considered blasphemous in Islam. I don’t know exactly when it will be released, but I will be providing updates on my blog.
It’s come full circle for me. I never set out to draw Mohammad until the Danish Mohammad cartoonists were threatened with death for doing so. Then I drew Mohammad in support of them and of free speech. Then I drew Mohammad after Molly Norris went into hiding, after announcing her “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day,” and again after Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed in 2011, and again after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. All told, I’ve drawn Mohammad more than three hundred times. And I’ll continue doing so.
If you want to fully understand why I do this and why I think others should as well, I recommend reading what has been described by a reader as my “manifesto”: The Draw Mohammad Challenge.
Biddle: Thanks, we’ll link to all of these items in the online version of this article. Where can people follow your work and support your efforts?
Fawstin: I have a blog, “Bosch Fawstin, IllustWriter,” and a store, The Bosch Fawstin Store. I’m now down to one social media platform, Facebook. In addition to my comic books and books, I also sell T-shirts, Mohammad trading cards and playing cards, prints, and my original art. Anyone interested in helping me continue my work can become a patron at Patreon.
Biddle: Thank you for your time and for all that you do, Bosch. Freedom of speech is the last leg of a free society, and you are on the front line—literally putting your life on the line—to defend it. My hat is off to you.
Fawstin: I really appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and to promote my work with your audience. You are a rare breed of publisher today. If only we had more like you in the world. Thanks again, Craig.
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