(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/30/08) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today said it has asked the IRS to investigate whether the non-profit organization behind distribution of an anti-Muslim film to 28 million homes in presidential election swing states has violated laws governing its tax-exempt status.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is urging the IRS to find out if the Clarion Fund, a shadowy non-profit group distributing DVDs of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” is being “operated exclusively for the exempt purpose of educating ‘Americans about issues of national security’” as it claims.
In a letter to Steven T. Miller, commissioner of the IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, CAIR wrote in part:
“[I]ndependent observers have suggested that the distribution of the DVD was an obvious attempt by the Clarion Fund to participate in campaign activities and intervene in the 2008 presidential election.”
The letter quoted the editorial page editor of the Palm Beach Post, who wrote: “Last week, an ad for John McCain came with The Post. But it wasn’t labeled as an ad for John McCain…Distribution of the DVD, whose producers say it will ‘change the way you look at the world,’ was timed with the post-Labor Day start of presidential election season. About 95 percent of the papers that contained the DVD are in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and New Hampshire…”
CAIR asked the IRS, if evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered, to consider stripping the Clarion Fund of its tax-exempt status, tax funds it spent on prohibited activities and impose an injunction on further political expenditures.
“A non-profit group’s tax-exempt status should not be misused to promote political candidates or to influence the outcome of an election,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad noted that even those involved in the production and promotion of “Obsession” are now having second thoughts about backing what the vast majority of commentators are calling anti-Muslim “propaganda.”
The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel think tank, pulled out of “The Obsession Project” after CAIR filed an FEC complaint seeking an investigation the Clarion Fund’s possible violations of election laws.
SEE: EMET Pulls Out of Involvement with “Obsession Project” (JTA)
Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a Muslim interviewee for “Obsession,” now calls the production a “vile piece of propaganda.” In a statement sent to the www.obsessionwithhate.com website, Dr. Mohammed said: “Sadly, it would seem that I have allowed myself to be used.”
The “Obsession with Hate” site was launched recently by the Hate Hurts America Multifaith Community Coalition (HHA), a group of religious and civic organizations seeking to challenge hate speech in our society. HHA’s site offers a point-by-point rebuttal to propagandistic claims made in the film, as well as a list of newspapers that delivered the film’s DVD as an insert, a sampling of bigoted statements made by anti-Muslim figures interviewed for “Obsession,” and examples of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage of the Clarion Fund’s controversial campaign to influence voters.
A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times revealed ties between the film’s distributors and the Israel-based group Aish HaTorah. The newspaper’s investigative report stated: “Clarion’s address, according to Manhattan directory assistance, is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah. The Clarion Fund and Aish HaTorah International are also connected to a group called HonestReporting, which produced Obsession. Honest­Reporting’s 2006 tax return uses the same address.”
SEE: Senders of Islam Movie ‘Obsession’ Tied to Jewish Charity
Those interviewed in “Obsession” constitute a veritable who’s who of Muslim-bashers. Speakers include Walid Shoebat, who once told a Missouri newspaper that he sees “many parallels between the Antichrist and Islam” and “Islam is not the religion of God — Islam is the devil.” (Springfield News-Leader, 9/24/07)
Others interviewed in the film include Nonie Darwish, a self-styled “former Moslem” who wrote that “Islam is cruel, anti-women, anti-religious freedom and anti-personal freedom in general,” and Daniel Pipes, who warned a Jewish convention of the “true dangers” posed by “the presence, and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims.” (American Jewish Congress, 10/21/2001)
Another “Obsession” interviewee, Brigitte Gabriel, told the Australian Jewish News: “Every practising Muslim is a radical Muslim.” She also claimed that “Islamo-fascism is a politically-correct word…it’s the vehicle for Islam…Islam is the problem.”
SEE: The World According to Brigitte Gabriel (Australian Jewish News)
When asked whether Americans should “resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation,” Gabriel said:
“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has — who is — a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day — this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
SEE: ‘Obsession’ Stars Have Lectured at U.S. Military Colleges
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. 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 National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: email@example.com