Film on ‘radical Islam’ tied to pro-Israel groups

A controversial documentary on the threat of radical Islam, promoted by the two most-watched U.S. cable news networks, was marketed and supported in part by self-described “pro-Israel” groups, according to an IPS investigation. Abbreviated versions and segments of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” ran on FOX News and CNN, but neither station disclosed the film’s connection to HonestReporting, a watchdog group that monitors the media for allegedly negative portrayals of Israel.

While watching the film, it becomes clear that the controversy surrounding “Obsession” has less to with what it says about the threat of radical Islam, than how it presents the information. While the film contains disclaimers stating that “it’s important to remember most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror,” critics argue that it makes little distinction between the religion of Islam and the political realities that inform terrorism. “It’s all part of that industry of Muslim bashers,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“The sentiment is there, you can see in the [1995] Oklahoma City bombing that it was originally seen as an act of Islamic terrorism,” said Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. “It’s almost a default position for the media, so you’re going to have work like this received uncritically.” The Oklahoma City bombing, initially attributed by the mainstream media to Islamic terrorists, was actually perpetrated by right-wing extremists from the U.S. midwest.

IPS, 26 March 2007