In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West”

In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West”

(Note:  The basic outline for this article was taken from the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Report - Exposing “Obsession”: Truth Over Fear and addditional materials added by Sheila Musaji).  Each part of the original MPAC statement is marked.  TAM will update this as necessary.

OTHER RESOURCES:  Resources for Responding to “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West” DVD Mass Distribution to 28 million Americans. 
History of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War With the West
Who is behind Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad? for a background on those responsible for the production, mass distribution, and promotion of the film. 
In-Depth Summary & Analysis of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War on the West” for a point by point discussion of the film.
 
What You Can Do to respond to Obsession.
Americans are becoming indifferent to Obsession

November 2008 - Jews on First has published a very comprehensive and detailed rebuttal:  Rebutting Obsession: Historical Facts Topple Film’s Premise That Violent Muslim Fundamentalists are Nazis’ Heirs, Expose its Fear-mongering by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Eli Clifton, Jane Hunter and Robin Podolsky.


Opening

Obsession opens with the disclaimer that most Muslims do not support terror. However, the thrust of the film contradicts the unconvincing gesture. Once the link between Muslims and Nazis is firmly cemented, the pretense that the film is about radicals or extremists only is altogether dropped. The natural distinction between the majority Muslim mainstream and radical terrorists is sharply and immediately undermined by maps moving from east to west towards the U.S., suggesting a clash of civilizations and a general conflict between East and West. Shots of taxis in New York suggest danger within immigrant communities in western cities. (MPAC)

An ominous musical score is the background.  The film is a classic propaganda piece - in its 1 hour and 17 minutes, except for a disclaimer that this was not meant to be about all Muslims, the balance of the film is relentless in its depiction of issues, political movements, individuals, and positions as connected to the religion of Islam and only to the religion of Islam.  The clips come at the viewer rapidly and jump from one scene to another, a radical Arab preacher, ordinary people praying, an image of the star and crescent (popularly associated with Islam) with a machine gun, Hitler shouting in German, the World Trade Towers being attacked, goose stepping, guns, Ahmedinejad shouting and waving his arms, explosions, ordinary Muslims, swastikas, and “talking heads” or supposed experts who are the only ones speaking in gentle tones, all else is chaos and violence.  “Worse still, “experts” in the film make the fallacious claim that radical Islam is potentially more powerful than the Nazis (Wasn’t Nazi Germany a large, cohesive military state that included millions of soldiers and cutting edge weapons technology, as opposed to small radical Islamic groups who are disparate, divided, and lack basic resources?).”  (Nick Patler)

After the commentary, is footage of the Madrid bombings, 7/7 in London, and other terrorist atrocities. Beslan is included, even though this was part of the Chechen war. Added to this sequence is Caroline Glick of the Center for Security Policy, saying that all the wars involving Muslims are seen as multiple fronts in the same battle for global dominance. Further, Glick leads her list of conflict zones with Palestine, even though international jihadists have played virtually no role in the Palestinian struggle and committed no major acts of violence in Israel or the occupied territories. A map later shows Israel to have been the target of numerous attacks of this kind, though none are specified. Already Obsession has folded the Palestinian, Chechen and other nationalist struggles in with the specter of international Muslim extremism. (MPAC)

There is a world map with every war, terrorist incident, and local political struggle involving Muslims displayed as large black X’s across the map. 

Nonie Darwish declares that “we need to understand the culture that produces terrorism”. That statement obviates the role of history, politics, social conditions, and all other contexts that lend themselves to the very nature of such violence. Instead the film places the issue squarely within the confines of the Arab and Islamic world. Such pathologization is one of the many irresponsible outcroppings of this film. (MPAC)

Further in the film, Daniel Pipes speculates that “10-15 percent of Muslims worldwide support militant Islam.” This statement is utterly unsubstantiated. It should be noted that Pipes, a known Islamophobe, has accused virtually every prominent Arab and Muslim American of being an extremist and a jihadist. Walid Shoebat points out that this is a huge number, bigger than the population of the U.S., and that “they are all spread out.” Such conjecture, however unfounded, allows the film to establish blanket fear and mistrust of all Muslims. (MPAC)  Since the film focuses on Arab extremists does Pipes realize that only 15% to 20% of all Muslims are Arabs?

No terrorism by anyone other than Muslims is mentioned (not the IRA, or the Basque seperatists, or the Tamil Tigers, or the numerous other groups, not even the Bosnian massacres, and the genocide in Rwanda).  The many wars around the world are also not mentioned.  This is a one-sided view and does not represent reality.  Anyone engaged in terrorism is a criminal and deserves to be tried and punished under tha law.

There has been plenty of terrorism and violence committed by human beings from every religious background.  According to the European Police Office (Europol) in 2006 “There were 498 incidents in eleven EU countries last year labelled as “terrorist attacks.” The Basque separatist group ETA were resonsible for the most (136 terrorist attacks) and they were responsible for the only deadly attack, killing two in Madrid. The remaining 497 fortunately cost no human lives.”  Muslims only carried out one out of the 498 terrorist attacks in the European Union in 2006.  Full report    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam a Hindu separatist group in Sri Lanka “had carried out more suicide bombings than any other organization on the face of the earth.  According to the experts at Janes securities, between 1980 to 2000, LTTE had carried out a total of 168 suicide attacks on civilians and military targets. The number of suicide attacks easily exceeded the combined total of Hizbullah and Hamas suicide attacks carried out during the same period”

Many Americans are unaware of the fact that of all the religious groups, Muslim Americans have the lowest crime rate, and that prior to the first WTC attack, there was no violence directed against the western culture by its members. A survey of 175 recorded incidents of terrorism in the US from January 1982 to January 1996 showed that of these: 77 were committed by Christian Puerto Rican nationalists, 31 were the work of Christian animal rights and Christian environmental groups, 23 were blamed on Christian left wing organizations, 18 were committed by what the FBI called “Jewish extremists” and 12 were by Christian anti-Castro Cubans. The total number committed by Arabs or Muslims over a period of 14 years was 3 (three). Muslim Americans: Patriotic or Fifth Columnist?, Habib Siddiqui

“It’s admirable to fight against all forms of extremism. It’s transparently fake when the fight only focuses on the extremism of one religious group to cover and defend the extremism of another.” (Ray Hanania)

Jack Shaheen, an Oxford University research scholar and author of four books on racism, stereotyping and propaganda, describes the film as “very convincing.”  He adds: “Goebbels would be proud. This film has a place in cinema history with the racist film Birth of a Nation and the Nazi film Triumph of the Will because it so cleverly advances lies to vilify a people.”

SEE ALSO: Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/claim_that_all_terrorists_are_muslims_ignores_history/0012587

The Culture of Jihad

The next section, “The Culture of Jihad,” begins with simple shots of women wearing headscarves followed by men praying, again suggesting, contrary to the opening disclaimer, that terrorism is somehow built into the Muslim faith and mindset. Darwish declares that “in the Middle East” Islam dominates all aspects of life. She claims, quite unconvincingly, that during the Nasserite 1950s, in an Egyptian run Gaza elementary school, she was taught that “jihad” was a sacred, holy war to conquer the world “for the sake of Allah.” This, of course, runs wholly counter to the rhetoric of the era, which was nationalistic but largely secular. The language of “jihad” was generally the provenance of a fairly marginal Islamist opposition groups (which the left-nationalist majorities and governments tended to view with deep suspicion, and which were frequently accused of being proxies of western influence). An interview with Itamar Marcus – from the Palestine Media Watch – assures the viewer that Jihadist views are “mainstream” in Arab and Muslim culture today, not radical as is sometimes thought. (MPAC)

The film does admit that “jihad” originally and fundamentally means self-struggle, struggle to be a better person, but Shoebat immediately follows that with “so does ‘Mein Kampf”. This analogy introduces what becomes a fully-developed comparison of Muslim extremists, Muslims in general, and Nazis. (MPAC)

There are numerous clips of people (some well-known, most marginal figures) making alarming statements.  There are no clips of any other voice than that of the extremists.  It is odd that Osama bin Laden does not make even a cameo appearance in this film.  Bigotry and hatred can be found in all communities - for every photograph or speech in this film another could be shown just as virulent from another community, e.g.  American protestors burning the American flag, Jewish Israeli children signing missiles with love, photos of Christian clergy with Hitler, Hitler’s statements about Christianity, Nazi insignia with Christian symbols, statements by Meir Kahane or other Jewish Defense League members, or by Christian white supremacist clergy, Jewish Israeli’s having a party to celebrate the Hebron massacre. Statements by extremist rabbis that during time of war the enemy has no innocents, or that call for the extermination of the enemy.  Signs in a U.S. shop window calling Palestinians pigs and cockroaches.  The list is long, and the effort to demonize each other pointless. 

First, it exploits Americans’ unfamiliarity with Islam and Muslims to suggest that deviant groups are somehow representative of most, if not all, Muslims. It scours the Muslim world for bizarre incidents and falsely projects them as the accepted norm. It then concludes that the Muslim world is an overall radical hotbed that wishes death and destruction upon the West.  (Ahmed Rehab)

Itamar Marcus claims that Jordanian students are subjected to textbooks that teach that Islam will dominate all other faiths through Islamic Jihad fighters.  As has been pointed out elsewhere the translation shown over an Arabic book page in Obsession says:  “This religion [Islam] will destroy all other religions through the Islamic Jihad Fighters”  The Arabic text actually says:  “Racial Discrimination.  One of the components racism. It relies on the principle of race supremacy. It is a principle that divides humans on the basis of racial identity and classifies them into superior races and lower races, and it grants the superior races tangible and non-tangible privileges as well as deprives the lower races of the same privileges.  These privileges take several forms such as the right to live in areas restricted for the superior race, and the same goes for schools, hospitals, public transportation, and all public services. Also the appointment and election to the high public offices and positions.  The members of the lower races suffer of persecution and physical and emotional abuse. They work in jobs and professions that are considered demining.  Some of the best examples of racism the racial discrimination in the world are: Nazism and Zionism.  The concept of Racial Discrimination.”  This textbook is explaining what racism is and giving two examples of institutionalized racism - Nazism and Zionism.  Full stop, nothing sinister here.  If this is meant to show the extremism being taught to young Muslims, it fails miserably.  Why such a faulty translation if the goal of the film is not to tarnish the image of all Muslims? 

This is not the only questionable translation in the film.  Translations were by MEMRI and the quality of their translations has been challenged over the years, including their famous Mickey Mouse look-alike translation, their translations of the articles of Prof. Halim Barakat of Georgetown University, and their most famous “wiped off the map” mistranslation of what Ahmadinejad actually said.

SEE ALSO:  Resources for Responding to Obsession DVD Mass Distribution for more background http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/resources_for_responding_to_obsession_dvd_mass_distribution/0016707

The Culture of Hatred

In the film, Khaled Toameh says that “the main theme in most of the Arab media is hostility to Israel and the United States”. This is at least as ridiculous as saying “the main theme in the American media is hostility towards the Arabs and Islam.” Indeed, there is a lot of alienation between Arab and American societies, mistrust and mutual antagonism, which is expressed in the media on both sides of the divide. However, there is a lot of diversity of opinion in both media junkets, and such simplistic statements are inaccurate and deliberately misleading. They serve the interests of those making the argument – that terrorism is a function of Islam and contemporary Arab political culture – but are indefensible as analysis of the actual state of journalism in the Arab world. Moreover, a lot of the footage used in the film is not Arab, but Iranian, although the commentary tends to focus on Arab peoples. Never is there any discussion of the differences and similarities between Arab and Iranian political cultures or whether the films cross-polonization of the two might be relevant. (MPAC)

Obsession explains that propaganda is used to recruit terrorists, that it is needed to upset people so they have a reason to fight the West. This is followed by a clip of an Arab saying that the Arab channels are the “media of terrorism” - a statement that would seem to undermine rather than confirm the idea that there is only one point of view on Arab televisions. This featured clip is a rare piece of actual programming from a mainstream Arab television station (Bahrain national television), as opposed to the majority of the footage used in Obsession. The film frames this clip as an Arab intellectual “admitting” that there is extremist propaganda in the Arab media, as opposed to its actual context – an Arab complaining in the Arab media to an Arab and Arabic-speaking audience. The genuine context of the footage points to the diversity of opinion available to the Arab public via their media, something that film chooses not to acknowledge.  Further in the film, Daniel Pipes falsely claims that on 9/11 there was a “general response in the Muslim world of delight,” which is completely false. In fact, Muslim expressions of shock and grief dwarfed any evidence of glee. The film supports Pipes’s claim by presenting footage of a couple of dozen Palestinians, mostly small children, cheering. As small children, the group likely had no clear sense about what it was that they were cheering for. It is clear the filmakers used those images of children to support Pipes’s claim of “delight” because there was nothing to support his contention otherwise. (MPAC)

Another “talking head” says “There is a silent majority that is not speaking out, and I hope it is fear and not sympathy.”  This is one of the most often repeated lies that has been retold so often that people believe it.  There have many numerous fatwas, statements by organizations, statements by individuals  and

 

SEE ALSO:  Muslims Denounce Terrorism for an extensive collection of such statements http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/

Jihad in the West

This section of the film opens with footage of extremists from the now-defunct pro-al Qaeda British organization “Al Muhajiroon“ demonstrating in London. Former Prosecutor John Loftus then tells us that the “infiltration of radical Islam in the West is so deep, it’s shocking,” as if this were not the discourse of the extreme fringe.  Brigitte Gabriel declares Hamas to have the largest infrastructure in the U.S., and Darwish says “they are here with an agenda to make Islam the law of the land.” Darwish does not define who “they” are who harbor this intention. Is it Hamas? Some Muslims? If so, which? All Muslims? Again, this charge continues to be leveled at each and every prominent American from the Muslim community, including self-declared secularists, atheists and agnostics. The film then displays footage of the only known pro-al Qaeda rally in the U.S. post-9/11, which was held in New York by a tiny group of individuals, perhaps as small as five, calling themselves the “Islamic Thinkers Society.”  (MPAC)

The Islamic Thinkers Society and their rally in New York has been denounced by American Muslims in print.

“Not all Muslims are like that,” says Darwish, “but we have been infiltrated and we have to wake up because we are strangling ourselves with our political correctness.” Such a formulation can only imply that Muslims are generally a danger to the U.S., and that oppressive measures are required to deal with the threat. Steven Emerson then discusses the practice of “saying one thing publicly and another thing privately,” which he immediately associates with the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. The film is extremely careful never to let the focus stray too far from Palestinians as its central target. Emerson says that, “the deception is so high that I’m afraid we are losing the battle,” again arguing that it is impossible to believe what any Muslim says, and therefore all Muslims pose a danger or a potential danger. (MPAC)

The film then shifts to a long section about extremist Muslims in Britain – an undeniable problem, but again hardly representative of the British Muslim community as a whole. The film explores these individual’s links to groups like the Taliban and radicals in Pakistan. There is no acknowledgement that similar conditions simply do not exist in the U.S. The film falsely links the French riots of 2005 with religious extremism. This is yet another demonstration of the film’s bad faith and dishonesty. The French riots were typical of frustrated urban youth, such protests have a long history in France, and elsewhere. Many of the rioters were Muslims and Arabs, but many others were from Africa and non-Muslim, and there is no evidence, as French authorities asserted at the time, that religious or even ethnic consciousness - let alone extremism - were factors. The film depicts Brigitte Gabriel’s invective on how “they” use “our laws and our democracy against us.” At this point in the film, the viewer is meant to be in a fully-fledged panic about these radical Muslims infiltrating, threatening, lying, and attacking “us” with “our own democracy.” Yet again, half truths and blatant falsehoods are used to perpetuate fear and Islamophobic sentiments. (MPAC)

 

SEE ALSO:  Hirabah - Jihad - Terrorism - Violence - Just War - Crusades - article collection http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/hirabah_jihad_terrorism_violence_just_war_crusades/

The Culture of Denial

This section of the film opens with Martin Gilbert’s analogy of Islam to Nazism. All efforts to think independently or critically about the “all wars are functions of jihad” argument of Obsession are condemned as denial due to fear. Gilbert states that people don’t want to face the fact that Islam is a global threat. He discourages viewers from trying to think about the phenomenon in terms other than what the film proposes. What the makers of this film do not acknowledge is that by following Gilbert’s prescription, viewers are in danger of the same complacency that led to World War II and the Holocaust. This is followed by a long and mystifying detour into the history of the origins of World War II. Then, fade to black. (MPAC)

The film returns with Itamar Marcus condemning “the press” for not alarming people in the West sufficiently about “what they should be alarmed about.” “History is repeating itself,” declares Shoebat. According to the film, Muslims, especially the Palestinians, are simply and exactly… Nazis. (MPAC)

A veteran of the Hitler youth is then interviewed about the effects of extremism on the minds of young people, a set of obvious and valid observations that would apply to any youths interpolated into radical politics of any kind. It is a pattern that is generic, not specific to Nazis and Muslims, as the films suggests. He asserts that one can only understand “the radical Muslim world today” through the prism of Nazi Germany, but provides no arguments to sustain the contention. (MPAC)

Next, the film shores up its argument by depicting images of Palestinian youths with outstretched arm salutes, falsely implying that these are Nazi gestures. The same sort of imagery is shown for Hizbullah fighters in Lebanon, and others. (MPAC)

Common Denominators [between Nazis and Muslims]

In Obsession, the first common link mentioned to prove that Muslims are neo-Nazis is that they both “demonize the Jews.” This is followed by a montage of terrorism and incitement against Israel – but no mention of the occupation, Israeli violence, or incitements against Palestinians. In doing so, the film has become everything it purports to condemn: incitement, racism and the violent condemnation in the most dishonest terms of an entire people. Shoebat says “this comes literally out of Nazi Germany.” It’s not clear what “this” refers to, but the comment is in line with the overall vagaries, half truths and falsehoods throughout Obsession. (MPAC)

The Hitler Youth veteran, indicating that he has not grown as much as he may think he has since his Nazi past, blames the involvement of Palestinian youths in the conflict with Israel on “the Muslims”. He says Hitler committed a crime against German children, “but what the Muslims are doing to their children is much, much worse.” Darwish states plainly “the propaganda of Islam is the same as the propaganda of Nazis”. This statement is no longer framed as radical Islam or militant Islam, but simply Islam. This clearly illustrates that the discourse of Obsession has shifted away from its disclaimer, that Muslims have been equated to Nazis, and Islam to Nazism. (MPAC)

Hitler and The Mufti

The film discusses Nazi efforts to reach out to Arabs and Muslims in the 1930s and 1940s, as if similar efforts were not made with regard to the other colonized peoples in the British and French empires. These policies are not presented as predictable attempts to cause problems for global rivals, but as demonstrating some kind of special affinity between Arabs and Nazis. The alliance between Amin al-Husseini and Hitler is not presented as one between political figures brought together by mutual enemies, but as an inevitable linking of kindred spirits. Loftus claims that “Arab Muslims from all over the world“ served under Croatian officers in SS units in the Balkans – as opposed to the truth – which is that only a small group of Bosnian Muslims served the SS. The films implies that Muslims, above all Palestinians, were Nazis during the WWII, and were clamoring to serve Hitler’s agenda. Obviously, no mention is made of the tens of thousands of Muslims who served in the allied armies and played a role in the defeat of Germany. (MPAC)

To add insult to injury, Shoebat instructs the viewer that Nazism is “less dangerous than Islamofascism,” which is “way more dangerous.” He warns of the emergence of “several Nazi Germanies” in the Islamic world. (MPAC)

It is a fact that the Mufti of Jerusalem sided with Hitler and that there are photographs of him with Hitler (as shown in this film).  It is also a fact that there are photographs of Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, and Catholic bishops and cardinals with Hitler and even giving the Hitler salute.  It is also a fact that there were Muslims and Christians who protected Jews from the Nazis, who fought against the Nazi’s, and who were killed in concentration camps.  There are Muslims who have been declared “righteous gentiles” by Yad Vashem and other Holocaust memorial groups.  The majority of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Provence in August, 1944 were “free French” Muslims from North and West Africa.  Muslims fought with the Allies in France, Italy, Stalingrad, and Leningrad.  Are they now forgotten?

 

SEE ALSO:  Muslims Who Fought Against the ‘Real’ Fascists http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_who_fought_against_the_real_fascists/

What Do Radical Muslims Want?

Loftus says that radical Muslim goals are the “same as Hitler’s goals: kill all the Jews, crush democracies, destroy western civilization.” The film continues with footage of an unidentified British extremist rant on about the superiority of Islam intercut with images of “Muslim desecration” of non-Muslim holy sites around the world. The film then cuts to extremists proclaiming the need for the world to come under some form of Islamic rule follow. These images, interspersed with Loftus’s critique, only serve to further drive the false fear of all Muslims as potential extremists into the minds of the viewer. (MPAC)

This film attempts to marginalize Islam and Muslims and put all of the focus strictly on Muslims as the source of all of the problems in the world, particularly as the source of opposition to some Christian and Jewish fundamentalists ideas about the State of Israel and its relation to end times prophecy.  An extremist religious belief that should not be the source of policy, and that is at least as dangerous as the confused religious beliefs of extremist Muslims.  The fact that the film Obsession and these folks in general do not see any possibility that actual historical events and political policies could have anything at all to do with the motivation of any worldwide disputes involving Muslims in any way is odd.  The fact that many in other countries do see such possibilities doesn’t influence their close minded views.  For example, a 2006 ICH poll of British citizens shows that 72% believe that foreign policy is feeding terrorism. 

We Have Been Here Before

In what is possible the most dishonest section of Obsession – the filmmakers mix and match freely between sounds and images that do not actually correspond with each other in order to reinforce the ideas that Muslims are Nazis and that Palestinians are the epitome of Muslim extremists. The film again depicts the Second World War era - more images of Hitler and a world enveloped by swastikas. Sounds of Roosevelt promising to resist Nazism are laid over images of young Palestinian children with weapons. Sounds of Tony Blair denouncing the 7/7 London bombings are cut to give the impression he is referring to Palestinian suicide bombings.  The film goes back to Brigitte Gabriel, demanding opposition to terrorism, followed by the accusation that “very few” moderates speak out against extremism. Daniel Pipes then warns of the dangers of throwing moderates in with “the barbarians”. Unfortunately, both Pipes and Gabriel commonly engage in such behavior, which is yet another red flag to the viewer with regard to the honesty of this film. (MPAC)

The American Muslim has collected 105 fatwas from Islamic scholars, 75 statements by Islamic Organizations (many of these signed by anywhere from 50 to 500 scholars from around the world), and 142 statements by individual Muslims.  These are from 30 countries including:  Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Britain, Chechnya, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, New Zealand, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, U.S., Yemen.  The majority of Muslims have spoken clearly against terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping, harming civilians, harming places of worship, weapons of mass destruction.  They clarify the Islamic position on minority rights and apostasy.  Some directly condemn al-Qaeda and bin Laden, and specific acts like 9/11 or the Madrid bombing.  There is almost no issue involving terrorism, extremism, or injustice that has not been addressed.  The reality is that political groups like al Qaeda who attempt to use religion to justify their criminal acts of terrorism have been responsible for many more Muslim deaths than for non-Muslim deaths.

We have been here before.  And the makers and promoters of Obsession should consider what happens when such propoganda is spread through society with no alternative voice?  We have seen what happens in the not so distant past in places like Rwanda and Bosnia, and in the last generation in the German attempt at genocide of the Jews, Gypsies, and other peoples deemed to be inferior and/or dangerous.

If the people who are promoting this believe that it is only the Muslims who will be affected, and that is a price they are willing to pay in order to achieve their goals, history doesn’t back them up, they are mistaken, and they are playing with fire, and adding fuel to that fire by bringing religion into the political mix.  There are a whole lot more folks out there who believe that America is a Christian nation (including John McCain who said ”...the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” )  than there are Muslims and Jews combined.  They are a fringe group of Christianity worldwide, but may represent as many as 40% of American Christians.  That these fringe Christians who believe that they can help bring Armageddon along earlier by helping their interpretation of Biblical prophecy happen would support films like this is not surprising.  They don’t care about any possible results to all of those who in their view will be “left behind” to suffer the consequences of a terrible war because they believe that they will be “raptured” to heaven before all hell breaks loose here on earth.  For them anyone who doesn’t believe in their particular view of Christianity is uninportant and doomed to eternal damnation.  That includes not only Buddhists, Hindus, Mormons, and Catholics, but also Muslims and Jews.  Why any of us who are in this fring Christian world view going to be “left behind” would join hands with these folks to promote their agenda is truly a mystery.

That there is a line to be crossed between legitimate discussion of political issues and anti-Semitism is clear even to Robert Wistrich (one of the talking heads in the Obsession film), or at least it is clear when it comes to anti-Semitism.  In an article on Qantara.de he said:  “Does he or she rely on classic anti-Semitic stereotypes in so doing: for example, by dredging up the alleged Jewish/Zionist “conspiracy” to dominate the world, or by evoking Jewish/Israeli “warmongers” who supposedly run American foreign policy; or through referring to an all-powerful “Jewish Lobby” that prevents justice in the Middle East. If the “anti-Zionist” critic holds Jews to be responsible for the chaos and troubles that currently afflict the world, he is surely an antisemite. If he criminalizes Israeli behaviour, by gratuitously branding it as “Nazi” or intrinsically “racist”, then we are talking anti-Semitism.”   What if he or she relies on classic anti-Muslim or anti-Arab stereotypes, or dredging up an alleged Muslim conspiracy to rule the world, or by evoking Muslim “warmongers” (no matter how marginal), or through referring to some all powerful terrorist organization that has the ability to destroy western civilization, or gratuitously branding political groups as Nazi, or attaching the name of the religion with terms like nazi, fascist, and terrorist - would that make the person an Islamophobe, and equally desicable?

Once the demons of religious, racial, or ethnic stereotyping are released, they are impossible to control.  What has been the result of the barrage of anti-Muslim propoganda over the last few years?  The real fascists are rearing their ugly heads again in Germany where their last incarnation was so devastating to the Jews.    Negative feelings towards Muslims, and to a lesser extent Jews, are on the rise in Canada.  Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are surging in Europe.  The latest Pew Research Center survey of global attitudes on religion is out and the news is not good for Jews – or Muslims.  Once you have convinced people that one form of prejudice is “acceptable” then it is difficult to stop that prejudice from being switched to other “out groups”.

Ironically, the film closes with a final montage of invocations of freedom. Due to its heavy anti-Palestinian message, one must ask whose freedoms are being promoted. Given the filmmakers ties, and the film’s subject matter - one can only assume that the freedoms being referred to are only those of the Israeli people. (MPAC)

In the final analysis, Obsession provides a very elaborate explanation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the roots of a campaign by a demented and camouflaged Muslim extremist movement, that is similar to and worse than the Nazi movement, with sights set on world domination. (MPAC)

If that sounds preposterous, that is because it is. The majority of Muslims, both in the US and abroad, are moderate and mainstream citizens who are strong proponents of democratic values. One need only look at past films touting anti-Semitism, misogyny, or racism, to see that this film has no more value than a historical footnote, documenting the Islamophobia that existent in this era. (MPAC)

CAST OF CHARACTERS

The backgrounds of some of these individuals help to put the motivation behind Obsession even more in context.  Chris Hedges also made an important point in an article about one of the “talking heads” in this film:  “These men are frauds, but this is not the point. They are part of a dark and frightening war by the Christian right against tolerance that, in the moment of another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, would make it acceptable to target and persecute all Muslims, including the some 6 million Muslims who live in the United States. These men stoke these irrational fears. They defend the perpetual war unleashed by the Bush administration and championed by Sen. John McCain. McCain frequently reminds listeners that “the greatest danger facing the world is Islamic terrorism,” as does Mike Huckabee, who says that “Islamofascism” is “the greatest threat this country [has] ever faced.” George W. Bush has, in the same vein, assured Americans that terrorists hate us for our freedoms, not, of course, for anything we have done. Bush described the “war on terror” as a war against totalitarian Islamofascism while the Israeli air force was dropping tens of thousands of pounds of iron fragmentation bombs up and down Lebanon, an air campaign that killed 1,300 Lebanese civilians.”

SEE ALSO:  Who is behind Relentless, Obsession and The Third Jihad?  for details about the individuals and organizations who have produced, participated in, or promoted this film.  http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/who_is_behind_relentless_obsession_and_the_third_jihad1/0016736

PLAYING WITH FIRE

Once the demons of religious, racial, or ethnic stereotyping are released, they are impossible to control.  What has been the result of the barrage of anti-Muslim propoganda over the last few years?  The real fascists are rearing their ugly heads again in Germany where their last incarnation was so devastating to the Jews.    Negative feelings towards Muslims, and to a lesser extent Jews, are on the rise in Canada.  Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are surging in Europe.  The latest Pew Research Center survey of global attitudes on religion is out and the news is not good for Jews – or Muslims.  Once you have convinced people that one form of prejudice is “acceptable” then it is difficult to stop that prejudice from being switched to other “out groups”.

An Arab recently put a film online called Schism in which he used the same sorts of techniques in reverse.  He ends by saying (paraphrased) that it is easy to do this, but we shouldn’t because it is wrong, that this is basically nonsense, that his film Schism is crap as is Obsession, and Fitna and all other propoganda films and that such exercises in futility won’t help us to make the world a better place.  And his final scene is the Qur’anic verse 5:48 ... To each among you have we prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.  He might have added:  Oh mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (Not that you may despise each other). Qur’an 49:13  which is the verse that has always been displayed on the front page of The American Muslim site.

The villification of Muslims, Arabs, and Islam has become relentless.  Repeating the same things over and over again has been shown to create credibility. False logic seem plausible, and even outright lies repeated enough begin to sound like the truth.  Sadly, these stereotypes have replaced knowledge with ignorance and misperception, and ignorance fuels hatred of what we don’t know much about.  Muslims are consistently portrayed as “the other”, not part of us, and imposible to understand, and so not worthy of tolerance.  Just the mention of Islam creates a feeling of fear on the part of many non-Muslims because of what they have heard so often and causes them to believe that this fear is reasonableThis fear leads to Islamophobia and this may lead to violence.  In fact, it has led to violence against mosques and against individual Muslims.

Right here in the United States there have been hundreds of incidents at mosques - some of the incidents were vandalism (like swastikas painted on) but some have been shot at, burned to the ground, firebombed, had windows broken out, vehicles driven into them, acid thrown at them, etc.  And, the incidents against individuals have also ranged from simple prejudice to murder.

It is just possible that there is a connection between widespread hateful speech and propoganda like Obsession and some of these reactions.

In 2004 the Media and Society Research Group in Cornell University’s Department of Communication released a study which indicates, among other things, that 44 percent of Americans believe the government should curtail the civil rights of American Muslims in some manner. The entire survey report can be viewed here. (.pdf file).  The polls continue to show higher and higher numbers of Americans with a negative view of Islam and Muslims.  This sort of propoganda coming when people are under stress and fearful because of serious political, financial and ecological crises can possibly provide a convenient scapegoat on which to blame all of our problems.

“A tool of propaganda, this film seeks to turn extremist rhetoric and images from mostly obscure media outlets in the Middle East into a reflection of mainstream Muslim society. Above all, “Obsession” promotes Islamophobia (fear, suspicion and mistrust of all things related to Islam and Muslims) and incites hysteria, fear, hate mongering, and alienation of the Muslim American community.”  multi-organizational interfaith statement

 

SEE ALSO:  Islamophobia an


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