It is not hard to find individuals who are obsessed with “Islam.” I am not referring to devout followers, but those who think the faith of Islam and its followers can be reduced to an evil anti-Western plot. One of the latest examples is a film, purporting to be a documentary but about as polemically propagandic as you can imagine. The film is called “Obsession” and it is billed as “Radical Islam’s War again the West.” Although the film has its own movie website and trailer, you are not likely to see it in a theater near you. But you are quite likely to hear about it at a college or public form near you, thanks to the efforts of its zealous promoters. Although it is not easy to find the source from the movie website, there is no doubt if you go to IsraeliActivism.com.

There is little doubt that the film is part of a “cause” or perhaps “the cause” for its promoters. The film website has a page called “About the Cause.” This contains links to Islamophobic articles by Bat Ye-or, Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, Bernard Lewis, David Horowitz and others, but nothing providing an alternative view and certainly no response from the Muslim community. There is also a “Timeline of Terror,” which again only lists attacks allegedly in the name of Islam, as though political oppression is totally irrelevant.

I suspect few scholars of Islam have seen the film, but those few Muslim who have attended are understandably turned off. One response is provided by Sheila Musaji on the AmericanMuslim.com website. I provide an excerpt from this, but you should read the entire piece at the website.

The film was a classic propaganda piece – in its 1 hour and 17 minutes, except for a disclaimer that this was not meant to be about all Muslims, the balance of the film was relentless in its depiction of issues, political movements, individuals, and positions as connected to the religion of Islam.

It is a fact that the Mufti of Jerusalem sided with Hitler and that there are photographs of him with Hitler (as shown in this film). It is also a fact that there are photographs of Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, and Catholic bishops and cardinals with Hitler and even giving the Hitler salute. It is also a fact that there were Muslims and Christians who protected Jews from the Nazis, who fought against the Nazi’s, and who were killed in concentration camps. There are Muslims who have been declared “righteous gentiles” by Yad Vashem and other Holocaust memorial groups. The majority of Allied troops that landed on the beaches of Provence in August, 1944 were “free French” Muslims from North and West Africa. Muslims fought with the Allies in France, Italy, Stalingrad, and Leningrad. Are they now forgotten?

Bigotry and hatred can be found in all communities – for every photograph or speech in this film another could be shown just as virulent from another community, e.g. American protestors burning the American flag, Jewish Israeli children signing missiles with love, photos of Christian clergy with Hitler, Hitler’s statements about Christianity, Nazi insignia with Christian symbols, statements by Meir Kahane or other Jewish Defense League members, or by Christian white supremacist clergy, Jewish Israeli’s having a party to celebrate the Hebron massacre. Statements by extremist rabbis that during time of war the enemy has no innocents, or that call for the extermination of the enemy. Signs in a U.S. shop window calling Palestinians pigs and cockroaches. The list is long, and the effort to demonize each other pointless.

Some of the reactions of our group were: “I felt dehumanized”, “demoralized”, “anxious”, “sickened”, “fearful of the reactions such propaganda might provoke”, “attacked as a Muslim”, “defamed”. All of us were much more upset by the audiences reaction than by the film itself. To us the propaganda techniques seemed obvious, but the audience reaction showed that it was having a powerful effect.

There was no relief from the barrage of negative images, and there was no counter balance. This film establishes Muslims as the “other”, as a dangerous, alien, violent, inhuman other. It was completely one-sided and without nuance, there was nothing positive about Muslims or Islam even hinted at.

It is unfortunate more individuals, especially those who make flashy films, are not obsessed with fairness and tolerance.

Daniel Martin Varisco