(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/28/08) – A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today renewed its call for Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigations of an apparent attempt by a foreign-based group to influence the presidential election.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said another media report has linked the Israel-based group Aish HaTorah to the distribution of millions of anti-Muslim DVDs to voters in presidential election swing states and to key opinion leaders nationwide.
An article in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch described an interfaith response to an effort led by an anti-Islam pastor to send the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to hundreds of thousands of Christian and Jewish clergy nationwide.
The Rev. O’Neal Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Fla., refused to say who paid for the massive mailing, but admitted that the donor “had been in touch with officials from Aish HaTorah.” Dozier also said, “I do believe that the religion of Islam…is a very dangerous and evil cult.” (“Obsession” interviewees include those who have said “Islam is the devil” and who claim no “practicing Muslim” can be a “loyal citizen to the United States of America.”)
SEE: Interfaith Partnership Rallies Behind Muslims Anxious About DVD (Post-Dispatch)
An earlier article in the St. Petersburg Times revealed ties between the film’s distributor, the Clarion Fund, and 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 (St. Petersburg Times)
VIDEO: Israel-Based Group Behind Distribution of Anti-Muslim DVD (CNN)
A columnist for The Atlantic wrote that Aish HaTorah “operatives flourish in the radical belt of Jewish settlements just south of Nablus, in the northern West Bank.”
SEE: The Jewish Extremists Behind “Obsession”
CAIR has also learned that the “Obsession” DVD is being distributed to local public officials “throughout the country” by the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC). An EPPC letter accompanying the DVD tells the officials to “get informed…Before it’s too late.”
Based on these revelations and on the DVD distributor’s apparent attempt to use its non-profit status to impact the presidential election in favor of a particular candidate, CAIR filed complaints with both the FEC and IRS.
CAIR also noted that even those who once backed “Obsession” are withdrawing their support for the film that many commentators have called anti-Muslim “propaganda.” For example, the pro-Israel think tank the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) pulled out of “The Obsession Project.”
Howard Gordon, the executive producer of Fox’s drama “24,” withdrew his endorsement of the film because “the goal of co-existence and tolerance is not being served by films like Obsession.”
Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, a Muslim interviewee for “Obsession,” now calls the production a “vile piece of propaganda.” In a statement sent to the website www.obsessionwithhate.com, 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.
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: email@example.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org