(CHICAGO, 9/24/08) – The Hate Hurts America Multifaith Community Coalition (HHA), a group of religious and civic organizations seeking to challenge hate speech in our society, today announced that it has launched a website as a positive response to the anti-Muslim bigotry used in an ongoing multi-million-dollar campaign to influence the presidential election.
The Clarion Fund, a U.S. group reportedly used as a front by an Israel-based organization, is distributing 28 million copies of the controversial film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” to voters in presidential election swing states.
HHA’s new website, www.obsessionwithhate.com, 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 controversial anti-Muslim figures interviewed for “Obsession,” and examples of the overwhelmingly negative media coverage of the Clarion Fund’s controversial campaign to influence voters.
The HHA site also offers positive actions visitors may take to help challenge the “Obsession” campaign’s promotion of intolerance and misinformation. “Obsession does not offer an honest critique of violent radicalism as one would have hoped; instead, it spends an hour attempting to blur the lines between the radical contingency in the Muslim world and mainstream Islam and Muslim society at large – that is it’s unabashed theme,” said Ahmed Rehab, strategic communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and director of its Chicago Chapter. Rehab said CAIR, a member of the HHA coalition, has asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to determine whether the Clarion Fund’s “gimmick” violates election laws.
Editorial writers have called the film “propaganda” and “misleading and dangerous.” One Middle East expert called it “a blatant piece of anti-Muslim propaganda.” Those interviewed in “Obsession” include an individual who once told a Missouri newspaper that “Islam is not the religion of God — Islam is the devil” and another person who said a Muslim “cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
“That many of the spokespeople in this anti-Muslim hate film are uninformed Evangelical Christian and Jewish extremists — religious and otherwise — adds to the burden of refutation placed on the shoulders of all clergy, journalists and academics,” said Rabbi Haim Beliak of Jews on First and an HHA member. The Hate Hurts America Multifaith Community Coalition was formed in response to talk show host Michael Savage’s rhetorical attacks on religious and ethnic minorities. HHA members include public officials and civil rights advocates, as well as representatives of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Latino, and Asian communities.
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