[FoRK] Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states

Stephen Williams 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.
Obsession DVD

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.' "
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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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