WASHINGTON, Sep 19 (IPS) - Millions of voters in U.S. states crucial to this fall's presidential election received DVD copies of a controversial documentary film as advertising inserts in their morning newspapers over the past week, with more expected to be sent out over the upcoming weekend.
The 2006 film, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West", which has been accused by critics of encouraging Islamophobia, was reportedly delivered, or slated for delivery this weekend, into tens of millions of households in states such as Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Missouri and other "swing states" that don't vote consistently for either party and usually decide elections.
Republicans and their candidate, Sen. John McCain, have made the battling the threat posed by radical Islamists a central platform of their campaign, while presenting their Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama, as being weak on the issue. Obama has also fought off persistent "smear" campaigns, particularly among Jewish voters, that he is a closet Muslim.
Gregory Ross, the spokesman for the Clarion group, which produced and is distributing the DVD, told the Harrisburg Patriot-News that the movie was being delivered to 28 million homes throughout the month of September and that the intention was not to sway voters to either candidate.
The Clarion Fund is a shadowy non-profit group created to "educate Americans about issues of national security," according to its website. The staff and organisational information of the group is not listed on the website.
Clarion Fund was founded by the writer and executive produce of "Obsession", Israeli-Canadian Raphael Shore. The group also runs the website Radicalislam.org -- an educational site which implores its readers to "take action against radical Islam" by exploring its resources under four headings: "fueling terror", "Sharia law", "vote 2008", and "radical Islam overview."
Because of Clarion Fund's non-profit, tax-exempt status, it is not permitted to sway voters in a partisan manner. But Radicalislam.org reportedly was, until it was recently pointed out in the media, carrying an article that explicitly endorsed Sen. John McCain.
IPS telephoned the Clarion Fund and its reported contact and counsel, Eli D. Greenberg of the New York law firm Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman and Herz. The calls were not returned…
"We're getting many concerned calls and emails from Muslims around the country who see this as an attempt to not only marginalize and demonize the American Muslim community, but also to sway the election by targeting swing states," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told IPS. "People are outraged. I haven't seen this kind of outrage in a long time. It's coming to their homes, it's coming to their neighbors and they believe its going to impact their lives and their children's lives negatively." (MORE)