A documentary produced in Israel and screened widely throughout the U.S. is stirring furious debate over its depiction of Muslims.

The film, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” is gaining a quick following among conservative Americans, evangelicals and Jews. U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is said to have seen the film and though it hasn’t technically been released yet, segments have been screened several times on Fox News and shown on nearly 200 university campuses.

But critics of the film dismiss it as “fear-mongering” propaganda aimed at bashing Muslims and inciting bigotry and hate.

“Obsession” is a one-hour look at radical Islam with footage of Arab and Iranian television, interspersed with rallies from Nazi Germany in an attempt to draw parallels between the two. Comprised mostly of news clips from recent years, it includes scenes of thousands of people chanting “Death to America” and children talking about their dream of becoming a martyr. “I hope Bush dies in flames and I want to go to Ariel Sharon and stab him with a sword,” one little girl in Bahrain tells the camera. The film also features interviews with prominent neo-conservative figures, like Daniel Pipes, who warn about the danger of radical Islam and its growing prominence in some circles. . .

Critics, however, say the film is demagogic and insist it presents a fringe element as representative of broader religious trends – despite what its creators say are several disclaimers reminding viewers that “most Muslims do not support terror.”

“It’s a typical cherry picking of inflammatory images and splicing them together to create fear,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a telephone interview from the group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. “When these smear techniques are used against any other religious or minority group, it is recognized as bigotry. When it’s aimed at Islam or Muslims, it has gained unfortunate levels of acceptance within our society.” The film, he said, “has an agenda to make Muslims look bad.”


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