FEC inquiry initiated into group that sent hatemongering anti-Muslim movie to swing-state homes

“American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multimillion-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election.”

Hi,

I blog at www.Progressiveislam.info, a progressive politics-interested blog on the Soapblox platform. I’m posting this story here because there are no doubt American Indians in all the swing states targeted for distribution of the warmongering, hatemongering, DVD ‘Obsession,’ which is essentially an attempt to demogogue people into voting for McCain by inciting fear and alarm against Muslims. If you know someone who has seen this movie and been affected by it, checkout the second excerpt in this blog post (Do-it-yourself guide to deconstructing responses to Republican’s new anti-Muslim video, ‘Obsession’) to talk them down from whatever tizzy the movie may have put them into.

I’m also going to put up a separate post of the overwhelmingly negative responses from newspaper subscribers who received the DVD. Thanks!

For a list of all of the states that are being targeted by this video, check out www.obsessionwithhate.com.

From Associated Press (link below excerpt):

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 DVDs – which critics call anti-Muslim propaganda – were inserted this month into more than 70 newspapers and paid for by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2006. The group’s focus is “the most urgent threat of radical Islam.” It has declined to identify board members or its funding.

….

In its complaint, CAIR cites New York Secretary of State records showing that three people who incorporated Clarion Fund also are employees or have been employees of Aish HaTorah International, a Jerusalem-based Jewish educational organization that has offices around the world.

“American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multimillion-dollar campaign funded and directed by a foreign group seeking to whip up anti-Muslim hysteria as a way to influence the outcome of our presidential election,” Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said in a statement.

As evidence of a McCain bias, CAIR cites a story in the Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa., which reported that a Clarion Fund Web site ran a pro-McCain article before it attracted notice and was taken down.

“If you heighten the hysteria over national security or terrorism or do anything to make people more fearful, it’s clear they would trend toward McCain because that’s been his mantra throughout the campaign,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesman.

Under federal election law and the tax code, nonprofit groups are restricted from getting involved in candidate races and foreign nationals may not contribute to American campaigns. The DVD’s distributors say their efforts are issue-based and don’t break election laws.

The Canadian producer of the film, Raphael Shore, is a full-time employee of Aish HaTorah International, an educational group that avoids politics, said Ronn Torossian, a New York-based spokesman for the group. Shore’s work on the DVD project was not done under the banner of Aish HaTorah, Torossian said.

“These are independent activities of individuals,” he said.

Gregory Ross, spokesman for the New York-based Clarion Fund, declined to discuss the complaint’s specifics. He pointed out that it’s normal for nonprofits to keep donors’ identities private. He said the group has “thousands of donors that span the political spectrum.”

“We are not telling people who to vote for,” said Ross, a former employee of Aish HaTorah International. “We’re just saying no matter who gets in office, the American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don’t feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press.”

The group is preparing to release another film, “Third Jihad,” but has no plans for mass distribution, Ross said.

Story here.

For complete background on the Aish Hatorah cult, including an expose on how Aish Hatorah targets secular Jews and misrepresents themselves in doing so to gain access and trust to groom them for extremism, as well as media stories showing the links of the hatemongering ‘Obsession’ movie to top leaders in the cult’s group, check out www.Progressiveislam.info.

Do-it-yourself guide to deconstructing responses to Republican’s new anti-Muslim video, ‘Obsession’

By FATEMAH KESHAVARZ

If you have received a hair-raising “documentary” called Obsession in the mail this weekend, you are not a chosen surprise winner, or the recipient of a kind anonymous gift. You belong to a sought after group of people: the residents of a swing state estimated to be an undecided voter. The film is supposed to convince you that your country is at war with the majority of Muslims who are willing to conquer America, kill or convert you, and establish a fascist empire. If you watch the film by yourself, and have no way of evaluating its content, chances are you will be convinced. Rather, you will be terrified.

That 28 million free copies of Obsession is landing on doorsteps in swing states at this point in time, speaks for itself. Nonetheless, people are digging deep in search of the sources of financial support for this largest campaign of fear conducted to date. I’d say more power to them for their efforts to expose this campaign of emotional manipulation reminiscent of fascist like ideologies that have resulted in massive human tragedies.  For now, however, there are easier and more practical ways of countering this scare attack. As a Muslim who has never been at war with anyone, I list five of them here.

First, the movie tells you that in a Muslim country, a non-Muslim is supposed to be killed or sold like an animal. Look, in your neighborhood or among colleague, relatives, and friends, for an ordinary fellow American who has travelled to a Muslim country in recent years. Ask if he or she felt the threat of being abducted, converted, sold, or killed at anytime during his or her stay in that country.

Second, the Movie claims that the Egyptian textbooks tell school children that Muslims should kill non-Muslims and take over the world. Egypt has millions of Coptic Christian inhabitants. In fact, they form 20% of the Egyptian population. Ask yourself how have they survived living in Egypt for thousands of years? Then, locate an Egyptian Copt through your local library, university, the internet, and/or friends. Ask that person if he or she ever saw such a statement in his or his children’s school books.

Third, invite a Persian speaking friend (of whom hundreds of thousands live in the U.S.) to watch the movie with you. When supposed scenes from the Iranian TV are shown, they will tell you that the actual language they hear is not Persian but Arabic. The documentary makers did not know what they were piecing together. They banked on the fact that the audience will not know that either.

Fourth, the film interviews supposed Muslim fundamentalists who have turned nice, loving, and truthful after conversion to Christianity.  Ask yourself why you should trust them anymore now than when they were ruthless terrorists – if indeed they were terrorists. If not, why are they lying?

Fifth, when images of large and loud crowds in the film frighten you, imagine someone taking a few shots from the GOP convention’s loud chants, put a scary voice over, add a few shots of American soldiers breaking into Iraqi homes in the middle of the night, and throw a few statements from right wing shows into the mix.  It could be sold to Muslim audiences as “The American War on Islam.”

Finally, please send this simple guide to a friend who has been terrified after watching Obsession and tell them to vote for Mr. McCain only if they like four more years of what they have experienced for the past eight years…not because Muslims are at war with America. They are not.

Fatemeh Keshavarz is Chair of the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literature at Washington University and the author of Jasmine and Stars: Reading more than Lolita in Tehran.