I decided to make this film with my friend, Lemine Ould Salem, because for the last 25 years I have been interested in radical Islam and by jihadists and terrorists who launch attacks around the world. I started to meet these people in the 80’s in Egypt after the death of President Sadat, and I also met them in Afghanistan when they were fighting the Soviets. I met them in 2000, one year before 9/11, when I made a movie about the Taliban that showed daily life dictated by Sharia law under their regime.
The motivation for making this film was personal. Members of my family died in Nazi extermination camps. They disappeared during the “Holocaust by Bullets” in Lithuania and Ukraine. I profoundly wish these things are never allowed to happen again.
I think it’s important to listen to what these people have to say, because they are not crazy, and they have not escaped from psychiatric wards. They are not isolated people. They are people who have an ideology, one that is sometimes hard to listen to, words that we have a hard time hearing, images that are hard to look at. But I think it is important to know today that these people who have decided to wage war on us exist, and represent an important minority inside Islam, even if, of course, the majority of Muslims don’t think like them.
We were not able to shoot in Islamic State territory, because the authorization we asked for was refused and we were almost certain to not come back alive. For this reason, we chose to show Islamic State propaganda. It seemed important to show the reality of what has happened in Syria and Iraq when this Salafist ideology was applied.
Police or military solutions will not be enough to combat the Salafist ideology and the Jihadists, nor de-radicalization treatments. A blue or a green pill will not make this ideology disappear as it is deeply entrenched in the brains of a certain number of people. I think today it’s important to fight these people with ideas. It’s important to fight with Western values but also with Islamic values, a tolerant Islam, an Islam different from the one of the Salafists and the Jihadists. There were tens of thousands of people killed in Syria and Iraq in terrorist attacks and combat, and several thousand today in Europe and the United States and African countries. We wanted to dedicate this film to the victims of these terrorist attacks because it’s important to understand where this ideology can lead us.