[FoRK] Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states
sdw at lig.net
Wed Oct 15 22:18:00 PDT 2008
I was going to ask if anyone had watched this. I received it also, here
in Mountain View, CA, a couple days ago. Strange days...
Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states
By Deborah Feyerick and Sheila Steffen
CNN's American Morning
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DENVER, Colorado (CNN) -- On a Sunday morning just weeks before the
presidential election, Priscilla Linsley opened her local Denver
newspaper and discovered a DVD inside.
Clarion Fund released "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West,"
in 70 newspapers in key swing states.
"I was shocked at the content and horrified that this had been in my
Sunday paper," said Linsley, a 74-year-old Democrat, who watched about
half of the video before throwing it in the trash.
"I have Muslim friends and respect Islam as a religion and felt that
this was really hateful," said Linsley.
The hourlong film on DVD, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the
West," was made by Israeli filmmaker Raphael Shore and shows disturbing,
sometimes violent images.
Rima Barakat Sinclair, who is Muslim and a Republican, was so angry she
called her local lawmakers in Denver. Video Watch voters reaction to the
"It is riddled not only with misleading facts but outright fabrication,"
said Barakat Sinclair.
In September, some 28 million of the "Obsession" DVD's were distributed
as advertising inserts in 70 newspapers, primarily in critical swing
states such as Colorado, Florida and Ohio.
It was paid for by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit group established by
the film's Israeli producer with the goal of exposing what it calls the
threat of radical Islam. The Clarion Fund was created in 2006, the same
year "Obsession" was released.
"Our focus is to educate with our movies and raise awareness, not
influence elections," said Gregory Ross, a Clarion spokesman.
But Larry Sabato, a political observer and director of the Center for
Politics at the University of Virginia, said it's naïve to think such a
video won't influence undecided voters.
"It's pretty obvious that the group sponsoring it wants people to think
more about terrorism, about national security, about Middle East
politics and maybe less about the economy," said Sabato. "Well, that
obviously favors one side -- the Republicans."
Because a number of Americans still believe, incorrectly, that
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim,
political observers said they believe the DVD plays directly into that
Clarion said neither the campaign of GOP candidate Sen. John McCain or
of Obama had anything to do with the DVD that has outraged some Muslim
groups. Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American
Islamic Relations, called the film anti-Muslim and politically
motivated. Holding up promotional material that came with the video,
Awad pointed out, "It says clearly that, 'It's our responsibility to
ensure that we can all make an informed vote in November.' "
* Commentary: So what if Obama were Muslim?
* Election Center 2008
* CNN's 'American Morning'
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, a group that
includes some Democratic donors, has filed complaints with the Internal
Revenue Service and Federal Elections Commission, saying Clarion has
violated its tax-exempt status.
"A nonprofit organization getting involved in political campaigning,
promoting candidates and scaring people and influencing voters for the
election in November is something that needs to be looked into
seriously," said Awad.
The Clarion Fund would not say who its donors are or how much they are
giving. A records search comes up empty.
Muslim advocates from the Islamic relations council said the money is
coming from the prominent Jewish educational group Aish Hatorah, which
has headquarters in Israel.
"It seems that this campaign is well funded and directed by a foreign
entity to influence the U.S. presidential elections," Awad said.
Clarion's spokesman called it "totally ludicrous."
"We do not accept donations from foreign entities. The accusations by
CAIR are totally unfounded," said Ross. "We are responding to the FEC
complaint. However, there is no substance to that whatsoever."
Aish Hatorah denied donating money to Clarion for its DVD campaign,
though a spokesman said the filmmaker and other Clarion staffers worked
for Aish Hatorah. The filmmaker, Raphael Shore, is employed by Aish
Hatorah. His brother, Rabbi Ephraim Shore, is listed as an executive
with the organization.
Clarion will soon release its latest film, "The Third Jihad," narrated
by M. Zuhdi Jasser, who is president of the American Islamic Forum for
Democracy. He describes himself as a devoted, peace-loving Muslim.
"It's always interesting how the Islamist organizations that have a
certain political agenda claim 'victim' and yet they always want to
attack the messenger, rather than dealing with the message," said Jasser.
He said groups such as the Islamic council should "condemn not only
terrorism as an action, but the goals of the Islamic state and what
Islamists would do if they were a majority and name Hezbollah, Hamas,
and other terrorist organizations by name."
As for people like Barakat Sinclair who received the DVD, she said
newspapers should have known better.
"If this DVD was produced and mass distributed by the KKK or an
anti-Semitic organization, would it be included? Or rejected, rightfully
so?" she said.
Linsley agreed and said newspapers should have made it clear the DVD was
part of an ad campaign and not an editorial decision.
The FEC and IRS would not comment on the specifics of the case, but said
they investigate all complaints.
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