‘Radical Islam’ video angers, offends Muslims

‘Radical Islam’ video angers South Florida Muslims


(Miami Herald) –
A controversial DVD distributed to millions of Americans during the past week through direct mail and newspapers, including The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, has angered many Muslims in South Florida.

Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West is being packaged as an advertising insert in 70 newspapers, including The Sun Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post. The Clarion Fund, a nonprofit organization that promotes ”national security through education,” is sending the hour long preview of the documentary to 28 million households, many in election swing states such as Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, through next week. Readers of The St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Times-Union of Jacksonville and The News-Press of Fort Myers have already received the DVDs.

The DVD includes montages of terrorist training camps and suicide bombers paired with narration by commentators such as Daniel Pipes, founder of the conservative Middle East Forum think tank. Many of the film’s pundits are known for controversial views on Islam. In one part of the DVD, clips of Muslim children being recruited as suicide bombers are interspersed with images of Nazis.

”My cellphone has been ringing off the hook . . . We feel that it’s going to incite more hate and bigotry against our community,” said Altaf Ali, Florida chapter director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The DVD does not do enough to differentiate between terrorists and mainstream Muslims, he said.

A Clarion Fund representative disagreed.

A DISCLAIMER

‘In the beginning of our film, we say `most Muslims are peaceful.’ We are only speaking about a minority that is estimated to be 10 to 15 percent of Muslims,” said spokesman Gregory Ross. “We feel there is no greater threat to America right now than radical Islam.”

The DVD included in the newspapers is billed as a one-hour preview. The website of the film, originally released in 2005, states the full-length version, at 77 minutes, can be purchased for $14.95.

In December 2006, the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation sponsored a screening of the film on Capitol Hill. Wultz, of Weston, died after a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in April 2006 at the age of 16. In response to the screening, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said, “We must not let the terrorists continue to teach their children hate. And we must continue to teach our children to love life.”

Syed Rahman, a Muslim pharmaceutical consultant from Weston, said he was shocked to see the film bundled with his Sunday Miami Herald. ”I could not believe my eyes,” he said. Nidal Hussain, a Kendall computer consultant, was also taken aback. ”I watched it with my wife . . . it is vulgar material,” he said. “I’m sure good, wholesome Americans are going to see it and be able to decipher the truth.”

At least one newspaper, The News & Record of Greensboro, N.C., decided not to distribute the DVD. The publisher ”said it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose,” editor John Robinson wrote in his blog.

`A VERY FINE LINE’

”We walk a very fine line between ensuring the freedom of expression that we try to uphold at all times and not falling into the process of censorship,” said Alexandra Villoch, Miami Herald senior vice president of advertising.

“In this case, we reviewed the DVD, the wrapping, the website and the materials posted and we opted to not enter into the realm of censorship.”


© 2008 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.miamiherald.com

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