Just a month before the US election, a Canadian rabbi has distributed 28 million copies of a documentary that compares radical Islam with Nazism to residents of swing states. Educational, or anti-Muslim propaganda?
"Obsession", which caused massive controversy when it was released three years ago, is again in the spotlight after 28 million swing-state residents found the DVD in their letterboxes as a "free gift" with their newspaper. The company behind the promotion is Clarion Fund, a non-profit organisation under the direction of Israeli-Canadian rabbi Raphael Shore, who considers it his mission "to educate Americans about issues of national security". The giveaway has been criticised by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for "scaring people into an intense fear of 'radical Islam' (...) as they vote in November". But Shore insists that the distribution had nothing to do with the elections and merely served to raise the debate about the Islamic threat. He has just released another DVD with a similar message, called "The Third Jihad".
"The worst of Nazi type propaganda"
Khaleel Mohammed is a professor of Islamic studies at San Francisco State University. He participated in Obsession as an interviewee.Initially I was contacted to participate in a documentary about radical Islam. But some of my answers were misused - like when I talked about struggle, some idiot likened it to Mein Kampf. I don't consider Obsession to be a documentary.
It's true that there are academic scholars in the film and that their qualifications entitle them to express their views. But Walid Shoebat is a known Islamophobe who is not a scholar; neither is Brigitte Gabriel nor Nonie Darwish. Besides, I was the only professor of Islamic studies in the film. If I had known who was going to be in the film that would have made a tremendous difference to me!
When the DVD was being given out to synagogues and, even in FBI circles, I didn't say anything. That's because when government officials are presented with such films, they see them for what they are. When, however, the film is circulated free of charge to swing states, there certainly is a political agenda.
After having presented Senator Obama as a closet Muslim, and then having this rather pernicious accusation of him being a terrorist by association with Ayers, the idea is to scare Americans into believing that Obama represents a soft touch on Islam, and that if he were elected, he would be aiding and abetting in the takeover of America. This scare strategy is actually the worst of Nazi type propaganda; all the more evil because this is the same strategy that the Nazis employed to demonise an entire group of people."
"America has supported the world’s worst authoritarian dictators"
Mubasher Ahmad is a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the US, a religious organisation which covers almost 200 countries.Obsession is a compilation of terrorism footage that makes people believe that Muslims want to burn the world. It's not balanced. Of course, extremism is a reality but the comparison between radical Islamists and the Nazis is out of focus. The DVD keeps showing radical Islamists threatening to destroy the West but the reality is that they mostly fight among themselves. Hitler had a powerful, unified army with planes and tanks while radical Islamists have very little equipment. We (the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) are concerned about radical Islam but we don't think there's a risk that they'll end up governing the world.
The documentary never shows what the US and Europe have done in the Middle East. The terrorists who hijacked the planes on 9/11 all came from Saudi Arabia, a hotbed of radical Islam that plays a major role in spreading radical Islam by financing madrassas [theological schools] all over the world. But the US protects the Saudi monarchy and its oil fields and turns a blind eye to what happens there. With the Iraq war, 60,000 Iraqis have been killed, 600,000 civilians have had to leave their homes and 15 per cent of the whole Iraqi population is now homeless. America calls for freedom and democracy, but at the same time it has supported the world's worst authoritarian dictators and oppressive governments such as the Shah of Iran and the Pakistani army dictator General Zia-ul-Haq. No wonder people in the Middle East resent the American foreign policy and that the number of terrorists has increased!"
"Europe is already a lost cause that will end up being predominantly Muslim"
Gregory Ross is director of communications at Clarion Fund. He didn't want to supply a photo of himself.The DVD was initially released almost three years ago but we decided to redistribute it on the occasion of the 9/11 commemorations because we feel like people are starting to forget about the threat of radical Islamism. We focused on the swing states because all the journalists are there and it's the best way to get coverage right now. We have no political agenda. We just want to draw attention to the threat of radical Islam so that both candidates take it more seriously.
The accusation of fear mongering is ridiculous. Would you have called someone trying to warn about the threat of Mein Kampf in 1933 a fear monger? The ideology behind radical Islamism is taken directly from Nazi ideology, which spread propaganda through the media, targeted the youth etc. The threat is real; radical Muslims are not only dropping bombs, they resort to intimidation techniques, lawsuits, and pretend to be victims to shift the argument out of their shady activities.
In the DVD, we say that 10 to 15 per cent of Islamists are actively supporting physical damage against the West. But most Muslims are in favour of Sharia law [Islamic religious law], whether they live in the Middle East, Europe or the US. In some areas in Paris, Muslims are taking over because they have a higher birth rate. As a result, some neighbourhoods are no longer safe for non-Arabs to go in to. And this is happening everywhere in Europe. Europe is already a lost cause that will end up being predominantly Muslim and under Sharia law. Many scholars, including Bernard Lewis [a controversial American/ Israeli historian who teaches Middle East studies at Princeton] agree with that."
The trailer for "Obsession"