Life imitates art.
At least, that's what members of the American Civil Liberties Union fear.
Thursday night, members of the ACLU and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
used fiction to illustrate what one called "an emerging and disturbing
The ACLU hosted a screening of the 1998 film "The Siege," starring Denzel
Washington and Bruce Willis. The movie is set in New York City during a
string of terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists. The result is martial law
and a "witch hunt" by armed forces for Arabs who might be involved in
planning other attacks.
After the film, Omar Shafer, an ACLU board member, spoke about the
consequences of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing
Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act. Shafer
is also president of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, an organization
whose mission includes spreading "clear and accurate information about
Muslims." Nusrath Ainapore, outreach director of the Islamic Center, spoke
briefly before Shafer.
"I saw 'The Siege' when I was at Pitt, and I did not believe anything like
it was possible when I first saw the film," Ainapore said.
She quoted a survey conducted last month by the Boston Globe, which
reported that 44 percent of U.S. citizens believe Muslims should have their
civil liberties curbed to protect the United States.
"Fortunately, a majority of Americans disagree," Ainapore said. Quoting the
Quran, the holy text of Islam, she urged people to "be just, for this is
the closest to being conscious to God.