“Obsession” is a Shallow Fear-Mongering Propaganda Piece
by Junaid M. Afeef
If shameless fear-mongering propaganda from shadowy foreign-funded operations intended to unscrupulously sway American voters in the presidential election sounds like just the kind of film you want to see, then check out “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”
The film is supposedly an expose on terrorism conducted in the name of Islam. Oh really? People are committing terrorism in the name of Islam, eh?
We do not need a faux-documentary to tell us that.
“Obsession” provides no new information. Nor does the film provide any meaningful analysis of the terrorism taking place throughout the world.
Instead, “Obsession” merely regurgitates news reels of one catastrophic attack after another, interposing benign images of Muslims in Mecca and elsewhere praying juxtaposed to snippets of Muslim demagogues spouting off hateful and violent diatribes. And we are to believe that the filmmakers are not trying to indict all Muslims with this propaganda?
“Obsession” compounds its bias by lining up the “A-List” of Islamophobes from Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson to Brigitte Gabriel and Walid Shoebat. This coterie of anti-Muslim pundits is plugged in here and there in the film to add a veneer of expertise.
The veneer vanishes almost immediately.
The film’s narrator asks how many Muslims, among the 1.2 billion worldwide today, adhere to radical Islamic ideology. Pipes, who is well known for attempting to chill free speech on American campuses, says he estimates that the number is about 15%. Later in the film Pipes cavalierly states that on September 11 “there was a general response in the Muslim world of delight”. Neither Pipes nor the filmmakers provide any proof to support these numbers.
Emerson, notorious for his immediate and false conclusion that the Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by Muslims, suggests that Muslims who speak of tolerance and peace are really just masking their true feelings. Emerson supports this broad indictment by citing the infamous Anjem Choudary of Al-Muhajiroun in the U.K. This is akin to suggesting that all Catholics are pedophiles because some Catholic priests are guilty of this crime. Neither are very accurate representatives of their respective faiths.
Bridgette Gabriel and Walid Shoebat both have sordid histories of Islam-bashing. For example, Gabriel told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim” and Shoebat told the Springfield News-Leader that “Islam is not a religion of God—- Islam is the devil.” Such are the “experts” called upon by the “Obsession” filmmakers to support the messages their video montage seeks to send.
The allegations and unsubstantiated conclusions of “Obsession” are contradicted by comprehensive and reliable data. In 2007 Professor John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed published a book entitled “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think.”
This book turns “Obsession” on its head. Esposito and Mogahed based their book on a multi-year Gallup World Poll which surveyed a sample representing more than 90% of the world’s Muslim population.
According to “Who Speaks for Islam?” 93% of Muslims condemned the September 11 attacks. The 7% who condoned the attacks and viewed the U.S. unfavorably were no more or less religious than the general Muslim population. Furthermore, according to “Who Speaks for Islam?” the politically radicalized Muslims were distinguishable from the 93% majority in “their perception of the West’s politics, not its culture.”
What is particularly troubling about “Obsession” is that it employs the very propaganda tactics it accuses Nazism and radical Islam of using against Jews. “Obsession” uses these tactics to demonize Muslims.
The film decries radical Islam for perpetuating an “us against them” mentality. At the same time “Obsession” attempts to create an “us versus Muslims” mentality.
“Obsession” provides no proposals or solutions other than to ring the alarm against radical Islam. Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch states in the film that “the press should be alarming the people to the threat.” This is absolutely not what the press ought to be doing.
The press has a duty to inform the public of the facts. Whether and to what extent we as individuals are alarmed by these facts is for us as individuals to decide.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has filled a complaint asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate the actions of the shadowy organization called Clarion Fund which is behind the production and distribution of “Obsession”.
There are indications that Clarion Fund is a foreign-funded organization. From Clarion Fund’s selective distribution of this fear-mongering propaganda film to 28 million households in swing states in the upcoming presidential election, it is plausible that “Obsession” is unscrupulously intended to sway American voters by fomenting anti-Muslim fears in a race where Senator Barack Obama has repeatedly and wrongly been identified as a Muslim.
The film and the dubious intentions of those distributing it at this critical juncture are both reprehensible. We Americans should reject this fear-mongering in the clearest and loudest way possible.
Copyright © 2008 The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. All Rights Reserved. Source
Junaid M. Afeef is the Interim Executive Director, CIOGC - Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago