Anti-Islam DVD Circulated By Anonymous Group in Battleground States

Posted on October 3, 2008 at 10:00 am

I am grateful to Beliefnet blogger Aziz Poonawalla for bringing to my attention the 28 million free DVDs that were delivered with the Sunday newspaper throughout battleground states last month. The movie is called Obsession. According to Poonawalla, it

is a polemic for the modern age, the digital equivalent of a Jack Chick tract, only directed at muslims rather than Catholics. The movie is somewhat ironically named, because if anything it reflects the obsession that the Islamophobes in western society have with Islam as the bogeyman threat to their romanticized concept of perpetually-threatened Western civilization – muslims as Orcs.

Naturally, tens of millions of copies have been distributed for free in newspapers to voters in critical swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. And segments will be shown on Fox News, which reaches tens of millions more viewers.

The filmmakers insist that they are not anti-Muslim but anti-terrorist.

A new menace is threatening, with all the means at its disposal, to bow Western Civilization under the yoke of its values. That enemy is Radical Islam.

Using images from Arab TV, rarely seen in the West, Obsession reveals an ‘insider’s view’ of the hatred the Radicals are teaching, their incitement of global jihad, and their goal of world domination. With the help of experts, including first-hand accounts from a former PLO terrorist, a Nazi youth commander, and the daughter of a martyred guerilla leader, the film shows, clearly, that the threat is real.

A peaceful religion is being hijacked by a dangerous foe, who seeks to destroy the shared values we stand for. The world should be very concerned.

According to the Associated Press:

A U.S. Muslim advocacy group Tuesday asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether a nonprofit group that distributed a controversial DVD about Islam in newspapers nationwide is a “front” for an Israel-based group with a stealth goal of helping Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The promoters of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” denied trying to promote any presidential campaign. They said it’s also incorrect to tie the DVD campaign to Jerusalem-based educational group Aish HaTorah International, although current and former employees are involved with the project.

Distribution of the film was underwritten by the Clarion Fund, which does not disclose its staff, directors, or sources of contributions on its own website or the site devoted to the film. They may have some legitimate security concerns; nevertheless, the lack of transparency calls into question the integrity and objectivity of their materials.
A possible hate crime at a mosque in Dayton may be related to the distribution of “Obsession.”
But it is clear that the movie has inspired at least one act of principle and heroism. According to Poonawalla, one newspaper editor refused to distribute the movie.
John Robinson of the Greensboro, North Carolina News-Record explained their publisher’s decision on his blog:

He said it was divisive and plays on people’s fears and served no educational purpose. The revenue it would have brought in was not a motivator.

As I’ve said on other occasions about news decisions, just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should.

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9 Replies to “Anti-Islam DVD Circulated By Anonymous Group in Battleground States”

  1. We got one of these in the mail because – in a moment of community sensitivity (sadly, uncommon) our local paper would not accept these things as paid inserts. However, the paper in the town where I serve as minister did accept them and I have been dealing with them ever since.
    The “information” in the disc is inflammatory pollution. There is enough toxic opinion to require EPA super sludge funding to throw it out. The single minded xenophobia is frightening. What is worse is the level of blind hatred and foul ignorance is over the danger level.
    That one group is so intoxicated and wealthy that they would pay for this pornographic bilge is a sad commentary on our nation. That they choose to remain secret only highlights that even they are ashamed to admit ownership for this glistening frisbee of stupidity (and I mean stupid in the literal sense – as in asleep, in this case have a disconnected nightmare). It is groups like the Clarion Fund that have made such a shambles of the political process. I do wonder however, why wealthy fear mongers would go to this trouble. Usually there is a profit motive. So as the saying goes – follow the money. How would they benefit? Perhaps by justifying a war with the middle eastern oil producing countries, taking their holdings as our own (in the hands of some Clarion Fund members? likely). Look around and see who might fit this description. I wonder if anyone in the current administration (soon to be unemployed) might have played a role in rolling out this waste like a dung-beetle. Just a thought.

  2. Don’t you think you should actually watch the movie before publishing such an opinionated piece . . . ?
    And for the record, the video is actually a fairly unadorned, honest depiction of the ideological motivation of the folks that are currently shooting at us (and our MUSLIM allies)in Iraq and Afghanistan. The truth is, that no matter how clearly this (or any other) movie attempts to draw a distinction between the ideological extremists and the vast majority of muslims, for some people it will NEVER be sufficient. Any open examination of this ideology will always be met with accusations of hate. Does that mean that we shouldn’t familiarize ourselves with the ideological bent of our current adversaires? No, it doesn’t. And the rest of you are just going to have to trust they your fellow citizens are generous and decent enough to learn a bit about this ideology without turning into raving nazis.

  3. This is disgusting. I can’t believe that so many newspapers accepted this trash, even as a paid insert. I guess if Hitler had lived in the present day, they would have distributed a DVD of “Mein Kampf” if he paid them enough.
    I hope journalists will “follow the money” and do an expose of this hate-filled garbage on TV news and in papers. The newspapers involved owe the public an apology for their moral cowardice.

  4. This guy seems to think it does a fair job of distinguishing between “radical” vs. “moderate”. He also says it’s a pretty “straightforward” depiction:
    “James Lindsay, an associate professor of Middle Eastern history at CSU, takes an opposite view on “Obsession.” He believes it’s a straightforward look at radical Islam.
    “He said the producers are explicit that film is about the radical ideology within Islam, which is advanced by the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida and other groups. The film’s introduction states that most Muslims are peaceful and don’t support terror.
    “The militant Islamic branch — which the film says makes up about 10 percent to 15 percent of a worldwide Muslim population of 1.2 billion, the world’s second-largest religion behind Christianity — has a conquest ideology, Lindsay said.
    “It’s one of subjugating the world to their ideology. There is not room for another ideology, according to the radical Muslim ideology, and it’s frightening,” he said. “But it’s part and parcel of the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and the al-Qaida types that they want to impose their will on everyone.”

  5. I know we are all relieved that no evidence was found of a hate crime. It is understandable that the circulation of such slanted material would make people especially sensitive to its potential to inflame bigotry. Thanks very much, Lynn, for the update.

  6. Why, you’re welcome, Nell.
    And for the record, I’ve been studying islam now full-time for more than two years.
    The material isn’t slanted.

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