A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group [on 9/23/08] announced that it has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the distribution of an anti-Muslim film to 28 million homes in presidential election swing states.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the FEC to investigate whether the Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that distributed DVDs containing "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West," is really a front for an Israel-based group seeking to help Sen. John McCain win the U.S. presidential election. (No information about a board of directors, staff or even a physical address is offered on the fund's website.)
In its complaint to the FEC, CAIR wrote in part:
"The Clarion Fund recently financed the distribution of some 28 million DVDs containing the film 'Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West' in what many political analysts describe as 'swing' states in the upcoming presidential elections. Those same analysts say the distribution of the 'Obsession' DVD was designed to benefit a particular presidential candidate, namely Sen. John McCain...
"According to the website for the Secretary of State for New York, Clarion Fund Inc. is incorporated in New York as a Delaware-based foreign not-for-profit corporation. According to the Delaware Department of Corporations, Robert (Rabbi Raphael) Shore, Rabbi Henry Harris and Rebecca Kabat incorporated Clarion Fund. All three of whom are reported to serve as employees of Aish HaTorah International, an organization apparently based in Israel. Also according to the Delaware Department of Corporations, the incorporators of the Clarion Fund used Aish HaTorah's New York City address (150 West 46th Street, New York) to incorporate Clarion Fund in Delaware... [SEE: http://www.aish.com/aishint/wwprogram.asp]
"It appears that the funding for the production, marketing and distribution of 'Obsession' may have originated from Israel-based Aish HaTorah International."
To read the entire FEC complaint, click here. http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/ObessesionlettertoFEC.pdf
There is at least one report of a person who received the DVD also getting an automated phone call asking that person to watch the film and then "keep it in mind when you go to the voting booth."
"American voters deserve to know whether they are the targets of a multi-million-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," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad said CAIR has received numerous complaints from those who were sent the DVD in newspapers delivered to their homes and has recorded at least one report of an anti-Muslim bias incident directly resulting from the DVD distribution.
SEE: Ohio Muslims Fearful After DVD Released in Newspapers http://www.wtol.com/Global/story.asp?S=9043986
Some newspapers, including the News & Record in North Carolina and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, have refused to distribute the DVDs.
SEE: Post-Dispatch Refuses to Distribute DVD Offensive to American Muslims http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/civil-religion/politics/2008/09/post-dispatch-refuses-to-distribute-dvd-offensive-to-american-muslims/
Interfaith leaders such as Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, have spoken out against the distribution of "Obsession" in swing states. In a statement, Gaddy also called for an FEC investigation: "...when a cynical attempt is made to influence our nation's presidential election by stoking fear of one religious group we believe the media along with public officials, such as the Federal Election Commission, must establish who is trying to influence our politics through religious bigotry."
SEE: Statement of Rev. Welton Gaddy On the Distribution of the Anti-Muslim Film "Obsession" in Newspapers http://www.interfaithalliance.org/news/268-statement-of-rev-welton-gaddy-on-the-distribution-of-the-anti-muslim-film-obsession-in-newspapers
An editorial in the Palm Beach Post outlined the apparent political motivation behind the Clarion Fund campaign:
"Distribution of the DVD... was timed with the post-Labor Day start of presidential election season. About 95 percent of the papers that contained the DVD are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire.
"Notice a pattern? Right, those are the swing states that most analysts believe will determine the election. The issue on which polls consistently show John McCain ahead of Barack Obama is national security. One way to make voters worry less about the economy and more about national security would be to send out a DVD that opens with clips of 9/11 and includes scenes of Muslims chanting 'Death to America!'"
SEE: The Secret Cell Helping McCain (Palm Beach Post) http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/content/opinion/epaper/2008/09/21/a16a_schultz_col_0921.html
SEE ALSO: Anti-Islam Film Targets "Swing State" (IPS) http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43940
Editorial and letter writers nationwide have called the film "propaganda" and even compared it to Leni Riefenstahl's 1935 pro-Nazi film "Triumph of the Will." One writer called it "misleading and dangerous." (Broward-Palm Beach New Times, 9/20/08)
SEE: Putting Lipstick on Propaganda Doesn't Change It (NWF Daily News) http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/clarion_11254___article.html/fund_obsession.html
Jeff VanDenBerg, director of Middle East Studies at Drury University, called the film "a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda." (News-Leader, 9/17/08)
Those interviewed in "Obsession" constitute a veritable who's who of individuals CAIR calls "Muslim-bashers." Speakers include Walid Shoebat, who once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees "many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam" and "Islam is not the religion of God -- Islam is the devil." (Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07)
Others interviewed in the film include Nonie Darwish, a self-styled "former Moslem" who wrote that "Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general," and Daniel Pipes, who warned a Jewish convention of the "true dangers" posed by "the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims." (American Jewish Congress, 10/21/2001)
Another "Obsession" interviewee, Brigitte Gabriel, told the Australian Jewish News: "Every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim." She also claimed that "Islamo-fascism is a politically-correct word... it's the vehicle for Islam... Islam is the problem."
SEE: The World According to Brigitte Gabriel (Australian Jewish News) http://www.ajn.com.au/news/news.asp?pgID=3403
When asked whether Americans should "resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation," Gabriel said: "Absolutely. If a Muslim who has -- who is -- a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day -- this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America."
SEE: 'Obsession' Stars Have Lectured at U.S. Military Colleges http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=3168
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CAIR National Communications Director
202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726
E-Mail: Email Contact
CAIR Communications Coordinator
SOURCE: Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
From the Clarion Fund Website:
STATEMENT BY CLARION FUND REGARDING FEC COMPLAINT BY CAIR
September 24, 2008 -- The controversial group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) filed a Federal Elections Commission complaint yesterday against Clarion Fund, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
CAIR alleges that the free distribution of 28 million DVDs of the documentary Obsession is designed to help John McCain win the presidential election. This is a false accusation designed to distract the public and media from the issues raised in the film about radical Islam.
"CAIR is attempting to stifle First Amendment freedom of speech," said Raphael Shore, Clarion's founder and director.
What is Clarion?
Clarion is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization created to educate the public about national security issues such as radical Islam. Its donors are Christians, Jews, and Muslims and include Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Clarion has made Obsession DVDs available to a national audience through newspaper insertions, national magazine insertions, and as an online download.
What is Obsession?
Obsession is a highly acclaimed documentary that has been vetted by major news organizations, leading think tanks, and the management of the 70 newspapers that agreed to include the DVD as a paid advertising insert. Obsession was released in 2006 and received positive media coverage, including a highly rated one-hour special that aired several times on Fox News Channel in November 2006.
The film does not mention any presidential candidate or political party. Clarion does not endorse any candidate for president nor is it acting at the behest of any political campaign. The Clarion website, www.radicalIslam.org, contains hyperlinks to the homeland security policy positions of both McCain and Obama, and endorses neither of them.
CAIR also has claimed that Obsession is intended to foster hatred of Muslims. However, a statement shown at the start of the film points out, "Most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror. This is not a film about them." Despite being seen by millions, not one incident of hate has been attributed to the film. In fact, Muslims have praised the film.
What is CAIR?
CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in US v. Holy Land Foundation, a terrorism financing trial. A US Justice Department court filing states: "Moreover, from its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists." CAIR has a track record of using litigation and disinformation to intimidate critics of radical Islam.
"CAIR is attempting to distract the public and media from a serious debate about the nature and threat of radical Islam," said Shore.
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