(NEW YORK, NY, 5/12/14) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today called on the National September 11 Memorial Museum to remove stereotypical and stigmatizing terminology from its “The Rise of Al Qaeda” film, which is scheduled to premiere when the museum opens on May 21.
IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUESTED: CAIR-NY has provided a “click and send” letter to public officials for those who want changes be made to the film.
According to news reports, the film has been criticized by the museum's own Interfaith Advisory Group for its negligent use of terms such as “Islamist extremism” and “jihadism.” These terms, particularly the generalizing manner in which the film uses them, conflate Islam and terrorism and carry the risk of misinforming museum visitors, particularly those unfamiliar with Islam.
In a statement, CAIR-NY Board Member Zead Ramadan said: “After repeated requests to correct misrepresentations, the film ignorantly implies a religion, rather than a group of criminals, was to blame for the September 11 attacks. Instead of unifying all Americans against evil-doers, this film continues to offensively cast suspicion on faith rather address the terrorist act.”
“I am deeply troubled by the way in which the administrators and board of the 9/11 Memorial Museum have dismissed the concerns of many New York City leaders over a 7 minute video that will be seen by millions of people each year,” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. “I am also troubled by the fact that Deborah Burlingame, an outspoken critic of Islam is involved in the programming and decision making process for the museum. Her involvement and lack of action by administrators raises red flags. This museum should be a place that memorializes those that lost their lives in this horrific tragedy and bring people of all backgrounds together in remembrance. We hope that administrators address these concerns immediately.”
A group of more than 400 scholars — including many of the world's leading experts on religion, political science, history, Islam, race theory, and museum studies — have requested that the museum invite an outside group of scholars to evaluate and review their documentary film.
Last month, A coalition of American Muslim and Arab-American organizations urged the National September 11 Memorial and Museum to consider editing a planned film presentation because it may lead viewers to wrongly conclude that that the entire faith of Islam is responsible for the 2001 terror attacks.
CAIR-NY is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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-NY Director of Operations Sadyia Khalique 212-870-2002, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, email@example.com