Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum refused to “disassociate” from the controversial film Obsession during a meeting Tuesday but said he would create a Muslim advisory group and offer educational programs about peaceful Muslims to his 500 employees.
At the 70-minute meeting in McCollum’s Tallahassee office, Muslim leaders and a rabbi called the film an “anti-Muslim propaganda piece” and expressed concern that McCollum had shown the film to employees in state offices, during work hours.
“He was receptive to our concerns but still said he thought the film had value raising awareness,” said Ahmed Bedier, the Tampa executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Steven Jacobs, a rabbi who advises the Los Angeles sheriff about hate crimes, said he flew in for the meeting to make a point about “the need for Muslims, Jews and Christians to be sensitive to one another and build bridges.”
McCollum responded that he was a bridge builder who had arranged for wounded Muslim children from Afghanistan to come to the United States for medical treatment.
“I then challenged him to be sensitive to the wounded Muslim community in the United States,” Jacobs said.
Besides organizing the Muslim advisory group and offering educational programs on Muslims, McCollum agreed to ask organizers at future screenings of the film to include Muslim leaders on discussion panels.
“The meeting fostered a positive dialogue, and we believe it was very productive,” said McCollum spokeswoman Sandi Copes.