Bosch Fawstin’s world has changed dramatically less than a week after he spoke with WND on a barricaded sidewalk as he was about to enter the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, where his artwork was declared the $12,250 winner of a free-speech “draw Muhammad” contest.
It was his work and others that apparently drew the attention of the infamously brutal, self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, which has seized large portions of Syria and Iraq in the centuries-old cause of bringing the entire world under the submission of Islam. Responding to a call to “avenge the prophet,” Phoenix residents Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi of Phoenix traveled to Garland, where they were shot and killed by police after opening fire with assault rifles in an apparent attempt to get into the building.
Fawstin, who spoke to WND Friday evening by telephone, said he has received specific death threats since Sunday and is taking measures to protect himself that he is not at liberty to discuss.
But he has no intention of going into hiding or dropping his focus on exposing, as a graphic novelist and artist, what he believes is the world’s most dangerous and “evil” political and ideological movement.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders, the keynote speaker at the Garland event, said Thursday he wants to set up a special Muhammad cartoon show at the Dutch Parliament in The Hague.
“If I’m invited I would absolutely go,” Fawstin told WND.
“This is a battle,” he declared. “What we’re doing here are things that are normal for our society. But now they are abnormal because of the enemy.
“We have to say: ‘No more. We can have exhibitions, because we are a free people in the civilized world,'” he said.
Fawstin’s prize-winning work depicts a sword-wielding Muhammad declaring, “You can’t draw me.” In reply, the artist, whose hands are shown with a pencil, says, “That’s why I draw you.”
The event was hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, co-founded by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Geller said this week she now must travel with security, with ISIS naming her in a threat posted on one of its affiliated websites.
The controversial Southern Poverty Law Center this week added Fawstin to its list of hate groups, and his Facebook account was canceled Thursday, he said, apparently in response to “a whole gang of people who found me beyond the pale.” His account has been restored, but he said he never got an explanation from Facebook.
The Defense Department’s decision to raise the threat level to “Bravo,” third highest on a scale of five, apparently was a response to the Garland attack and the threat of more “Elton Simpsons” responding to ISIS.
‘Pursuer of the truth’
The Bronx-born son of immigrants from Albania, Fawstin said he left Islam as a teen then “revisited” it after 9/11.
“I studied Islam as if my life depended on it,” he said. “I read the Quran twice. I read every book I could get my hands on, on jihad and Islam, terrorism.”
He said he has always been a passionate pursuer of “the truth,” and after 9/11, he “made a vow to find out the truth about Islam” and “write and draw about it, and send it out there in as wide a way as I possibly can.”
“I always have loved the truth. It was the one thing that always brought me back to reality,” said Fawstin, a devotee of the atheist, objectivist Ayn Rand.
In his youth, he said that even among “moderate” Muslims, like his family and immigrant community in the Bronx, he witnessed “misogyny” and anti-Semitism.
“My mom used to mourn the birth of my nieces,” he said. “There was admiration for Hitler, because he killed Jews.
“It was happening in my family, even though they were moderate,” he said. “[Islam] poisons even semi-decent people.”
In 2004, Fawstin, a lover of super heroes and stories of “good and evil,” created the character “Pigman,” the alter-ego of an ex-Muslim named Frank Warner, a relentless defender of Western civilization against jihadists. It took about decade, though, before his graphic novels reached the market.
“In many ways I’m on my own,” he said of his career. “Almost all of my peers in comics don’t want to touch this. Don’t want to say anything about the truth about Islam.”
But he said there is no other subject he can imagine pursuing.
“You have 3,000 Americans butchered in the streets, and it was just unreal how weak the response was, from our political leaders to the media,” he said of 9/11.
“They asked, ‘What did we do wrong?’ Remember those questions being asked? Just shameful,” said Fawstin.
“We’re supposed to be Americans, who love freedom, who fight evil and have no problem saying so,” he continued. “And we’ve become un-American in a lot of ways. Even those who pretend that they’re Americans, like Bill O’Reilly.”
What would Jesus do?
Fawstin was particularly upset about the reaction of Fox News host O’Reilly to the Garland event and his criticism of host Pamela Geller, who he called “10 times the man O’Reilly is.”
In his “Taking Points” segment Thursday night, O’Reilly called Geller’s free-speech argument “bogus” and argued Jesus “would not have sponsored that event.”
O’Reilly cited Rev. Franklin Graham, a strong critic of Islam, who said in a Fox News interview Wednesday that as “a Christian, I don’t like it when people mock my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and “what this event was doing in Texas was mocking Islam.”
Radio host Laura Ingraham, a Roman Catholic like O’Reilly, took issue with the event in an interview with Geller.
“I don’t think that our effort to combat the Islamization of the globe is necessarily helped by putting on Muhammad art contests,” Ingraham told Geller. “I don’t think it’s unconstitutional to do so. I would never seek to limit your speech … but there are a billion Muslims in the world … and I disagree with that speech.”
“We are at war,” Fawstin said in response. “And this idea that we have to keep acting like we’re not and talk about decorum. You know, ‘We’ve got to be respectful.’ Towards what? Towards evil?”
He said the establishment media’s coverage of the event has been “dishonest.”
“This idea that we have to respect Islam is ludicrous,” he said. “Why do we have to respect Islam? Has Islam ever given us a reason to respect it? Have Muslims ever given us a reason to respect Islam?”
He said the reaction to Garland has become a “litmus test for Americans.”
“Some Americans acting more like Americans, and others, like, I don’t know what, like dhimmis, those who are second-class citizens under Islam who know their place under Islam – who treat Islam with pure respect and don’t want to say anything negative.”
Seen a WND interview with Fawstin hours before the terrorist attack May 3:
He said that in his experience, those who are most informed about Islam are the most critical of it, and those who are the least informed are the least critical.
“And that’s what we have here. We have absolute ignorance on parade in a way that I’ve never seen before,” he said.
“The best thing about it is that we have in a lot of ways whittled down who is on our side, who is on the side of freedom and free speech, and who is not,” he said. “So that was a great value in and of itself.”
Fawstin said he’s no longer a religious believer.
“Once I left Islam, I left religion. That was it,” he said.
“That’s why in a lot of ways I was ready for Ayn Rand,” he explained. “A philosophy based on reality that I can completely understand, with no reliance on anything other than what I can see, feel, touch, think and know.”
Fawstin said he “fell in love with her work from day one, devoured her books.”
Rand, born in czarist Russia in 1905, emigrated to the U.S. in 1926, after the communist revolution, and became known for her two bestselling novels, “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”
“I’m not as well versed as the Ph.D. philosophers of objectivism. I’m not as articulate,” Fawstin said. “But I understand her philosophy at the core.”
He acknowledged that after leaving Islam, there was a “void.”
“I knew I was a good guy, but that’s not enough,” he said. “You need some kind of philosophy, some kind of morality; and she was there for me.”
He acknowledged that “good versus evil” is a religious concept but argued it’s simply reality.
“People who don’t believe in God; they can still see evil for what it is – and sometimes even more clearly,” he said.
He said that in the minds of Christians like Bill O’Reilly, “if they recognize Islam as evil, then they feel a little evil themselves.”
“They feel like, ‘I’m good, so I can’t see that fellow religionist as evil.'”
“It’s pathetic,” he said.
Fawstin contended evoking “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy” in the context of the threat of Islam has been detrimental.
“It has made us weak in a lot of ways, to not face these people head on, honestly,” he said.
Closer to the truth
He said he senses a societal shift since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January and even more so in the past week.
“Every time a horrific event happens, the truth is bared out a little more, in little incremental pushes,” he said.
“Guys who are semi-honest become a little more honest, said Fawstin. “Guys who have been using misnomers like ‘radical Islam’ start using “Islam.'”
“We need to get closer and closer to the truth in order to act on it,” he said.
He said the U.S. has been acting on “lies” such as “we need to bring democracy to the Middle East” and “Islam means peace.”
“And look where we are,” he said.
“We have a really vile enemy who is not strong,” he said. “We make him appear to be strong. If we were to unleash our culture, our army, it would be over.
“They know that, and they are counting on us not to do what they would do. They are counting on us being chumps, and in a lot of ways we are chumps.”
Ted Cruz 2016
Fawstin’s choice for the White House is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who launched his campaign at the evangelical Christian Liberty University in March.
Fawstin said Cruz “has flaws, but he’s the guy.”
“Because he is more honest than the others,” he said, particularly about Islam.
“I believe him when he says these things about it,” he said. “He speaks with conviction.”
“Now, he is a politician, so I always keep that in mind,” Fawstin said. “But in terms of politicians, he’s the best of the worst, meaning politicians are the worst.”