BILL O'REILLY: In THE FACTOR "Follow-Up" segment tonight, take a look at the front page of "The New York Daily News" today, a bunch of Shi'ite Muslims covered with blood in the town of Karbala. No, it wasn't a battle. This was a religious celebration that included a whole bunch of anti- American rhetoric.
The question. What the heck is going on here, and what should be done about it? Joining now from Washington is Jonathan Schanzer, analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Here in New York, Sheikh Kadhim Mohamad, a Shi'ite Imam who was born in Iraq. So, what is this? They're all bloody. What was going on there, Sheikh?
SHEIKH KADHIM MOHAMAD, SHI'ITE IMAM: Actually, first of all, we have to clear it. Islam is not responsible for what others are doing. It's time to give people freedom in this matter, but there are two conditions.
First, they should not hurt themselves. They have not right to hurt themselves. Therefore, before they do other things, they have to consult their doctors and say..
O'REILLY: But they have blood all over them.
MOHAMAD: I know, I know, this is just the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and the doctors say it's ok up to this limit.
O'REILLY: All right, why are they doing this? I mean does Mohammed and Allah want this to happen?
MOHAMAD: No, Islam is not responsible for it.
O'REILLY: All right, so this is just some sect thing?
MOHAMAD: No, this is people suppress their love to Imam Hussein, ok? And some people, they express their love in cultural way. It's not religious way, cultural way. As long as they did not harm themselves, Islam is not involved.
O'REILLY: OK, but this is fundamentalist stuff, right? You don't do this in your mosque in Brooklyn?
O'REILLY: All right, this is fundamentalist, hard core, we feel that this is the way we should, for whatever reason, we feel that we should worship in this manner. Is there a threat here, Sheikh, to the United States? Because we've seen a lot of anti-USA rhetoric coming out of this group.
MOHAMAD: Not really, we have to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It is not -- we are too exaggerated. The picture is exaggerated.
O'REILLY: You think it is exaggerated?
MOHAMAD: Yes. It is very simple.
O'REILLY: Mr. Schanzer, how do you see it? Is it exaggerated? Is this a fringe group like a David Koresh sect or something like that?
JONATHAN SCHANZER, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Well, it's not exactly a fringe group. I mean, this is a 1400-year-old ritual that the Shia have been doing for quite some time, but I think it is a little early to get bent out of shape.
Of course, the calls for ousting the United States, the calls for an Islamic state, all of these things are very disconcerting to a United States population that doesn't want to see Islamic fundamentalism emerge in a country that we just liberated. So, in that sense, I can understand why Americans are a little upset.
But you have to remember that you have a political landscape that is just forming right now. You have -- the war just ended. You have a Shia population that's just beginning to find its voice.
And then on top of that, you have this ritual. And I think all of these things put together have sort of let things boil over.
O'REILLY: All right, but the key question is are these people a danger to the United States? I mean, I don't care what they do. I believe the sheikh when he said it's a fringe group, and they get carried away. A lot of religious people get carried away. It's not just the Muslims, all right?
But we know this infiltration from Iran of fundamentalist Muslims. We know there's Syrians coming in, trying to cause trouble.
And I'm saying to the American government, you have to really keep a close eye on this kind of stuff. This can be get out of hand really fast because even though most people in Iraq, Mr. Schanzer, and I believe this, don't subscribe to this kind of fanaticism. These people intimidate. They are the hard core, and they can easily seize power if not checked.
SCHANZER: Well, I think you're right. I think it's definitely something the United States needs to keep a check on. But, you know, just remember you have a number of other populations that are very, very moderate. And there are secular Shia, actually, inside Iraq right now, and you're not hearing their voices. I mean, right now...
O'REILLY: But it's like the Mafia. I mean, the most dangerous people on the block win. Most people aren't in organized crime, but if organized crime is embedded in your block here in New York city, all right, they're going to rule. Because they will hurt you, and these fundamentalists will hurt you.
SCHANZER: Well, there's certainly a possibility of that. But, again, I think you just need to remember that there are -- let's say there's 20 percent of the Shia are radical, that means that 80 percent are not, and they don't necessarily want to be ruled by fundamentalists.
And I think we just need to keep an eye on it. I think that the American presence there will be really important. And I also think that we might just see things die down a little bit after this pilgrimage is over. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...
O'REILLY: All right, I think that's what the State Department is hoping anyway.
Now, Sheikh, one more question for you before we let you go. I had been critical of the American Muslim clerics for not being strong enough to condemn fundamentalist Islam, because I see it as a danger, not only to the United States, but to the world.
I think fundamentalist Islam, with all it brings, oppression of women, a justice system that is incompatible with western values, is very dangerous. And I would like to see more imams and more sheiks rise up and condemn it. Am I wrong?
MOHAMAD: See, they are not around the politics. What we have to...
O'REILLY: Some are.
MOHAMAD: No, no, no. Absolutely not.
MOHAMAD: Do you know in Iran, they forbid to do so.
O'REILLY: Well, the Ayatollah Khomeini certainly was involved with politics.
MOHAMAD: No, they -- in Iran, it is unlawful for the people to do so. OK? But they are never -- they are not scared. They are just feeling.
O'REILLY: No, but what you see in America, I want to bring it back to America. Why don't you guys -- because you're a moderate, you understand Islam, I believe, the way it should be practiced.
MOHAMAD: We did inform them, you know, we did talk. There are many ways to suppress your love to Imam Hussein. OK? And this is one way which, as long as they do not harm themselves, they do not harm themselves...
O'REILLY: The bigger question of Arab-Islamic fundamentalism, why don't you address that stronger?
MOHAMAD: We do so. But, you know, we have limit to talk about it. As long as they do not, as religious people, as long as they do not harm themselves. As long...
O'REILLY: So you have limits on how much political stuff you can do?
MOHAMAD: As long as they did not harm the others, ok, they have right to do so. But when they harm themselves religiously, we cannot allow them to do so.
O'REILLY: All right, Sheikh, thanks very much.
Mr. Schanzer, we appreciate your time as well.