CAIR-OK Questions School's Use of OKC Bombing Conspiracy Theory Film

OKC-conspiracy-film(TULSA, OK, 5/22/2014) -- The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today called on Jenks Public Schools to drop the use of a film promoting conspiracy theories linking Middle East groups to the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City.

That call comes following a meeting today at which school officials told a CAIR-OK representative and concerned parents that the film would continue to be part of the media library available to teachers.

CAIR-OK received a complaint that an Oklahoma History class at Jenks's Freshman Academy uses the film, "Conspiracy: Oklahoma City Bombing," as a part of its Oklahoma History Curriculum. The film alleges that the Oklahoma City bombing was the work of "Middle-Eastern Islamist organizations."

New York Times Review: "Conspiracy: Oklahoma City Bombing"

"No student should be made to feel unwelcome in an Oklahoma classroom through the promotion of such conspiracy theories," said CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani. "Showing a conspiracy-based film that misdirects the blame for one of the most tragic events in our state's history only serves to create confusion and will lead to the spread of misinformation and hostility toward students of Middle Eastern and Muslim background."

He said the use of supplemental classroom materials that promote hatred or misinformation about a particular religion or ethnicity is not consistent with Jenks Public Schools mission statement, which states a "commitment to the shared responsibility of preparing all learners for productive, responsible citizenship in an ever-changing world."

Soltani noted that Muslims and Arab-Americans were targeted in the immediate aftermath of the bombing when they were falsely linked to the deadly attack by self-styled "experts" like Steven Emerson, who told CBS News the bombing was a reflection of "a Middle Eastern trait." (4/19/95) One American Muslim, Ibrahim Ahmad, was even arrested following the bombing and held for two days before being released without charge.

SEE: Stereotyping Muslims
Steven Emerson's Crusade (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)

That and similar unsubstantiated rhetorical links sparked a wave of anti-Muslim hysteria that resulted in almost 250 incidents of harassment, discrimination and actual violence against American Muslims or those perceived to be Middle Eastern.

According to the Daily Oklahoman newspaper: "Sahar Al-Muwsawi, 26, said ... she was watching reports of the bombing on television on April 20 when she heard a car's brakes squeal outside her Oklahoma City home. Then she heard objects hitting the window and thought people were shooting at the house. Muwsawi, who was nearly seven months pregnant, grabbed her 2-year-old daughter and another child in the home and took them to the bathroom and locked the door. She said she started bleeding and called her husband, who rushed home and took her to the hospital. A stillborn baby boy was delivered several hours later." (5/20/95)

Other incidents ranged from a suspected arson attack on a mosque, to drive-by shootings at Islamic centers and assaults on Muslim students. Many Muslim institutions around America also reported phoned bomb threats, and in one case, a fake bomb was thrown at a Muslim day care facility.

Individual Muslims reported a great increase in harassment by co-workers and in public. The harassment led to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the Muslim community.

CAIR documented the anti-Muslim backlash following the Oklahoma City bombing in a report called A Rush to Judgment. That report was the first of CAIR's reports on the status of American Muslim civil rights.

CAIR-OK is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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.

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CONTACT: CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani, 405-248-5853, [email protected]; CAIR-OK Development Coordinator Thomaira Babbit, 405-415-6851, [email protected]