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Obsession with your morning news: the anti-Muslim movie gets delivered to homes and presented at military colleges.

AS OBAMA AND MCCAIN were squaring off in debates last fall, 28 million copies of the DVD Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West were distributed across the U.S.--primarily in swing states including Ohio, Colorado and Florida--as well as being inserted inside 70 newspapers, including The New York Times and The Oregonian. The distribution was in the form of advertising paid for by the Clarion Fund, a nonprofit organization that describes its focus as the "most urgent threat of radical Islam."

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Angry newspaper subscribers and civil rights groups nationwide said the DVD was anti-Muslim propaganda. It includes scenes of men in Lebanon chanting "death to America" and a child promising to become a suicide bomber.

Attorney Diane Aboushi, directory of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, fears the film's distribution may herald a renewed wave of hate against Arabs and Muslims. "A movie like Obsession feeds hate and paranoia, dehumanizing people," she said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging violations of the Clarion Fund's nonprofit status. The Council contends that the distribution before the election was an attempt to scare voters away from Obama by playing into rumors widely circulated by the right wing that he is Muslim and supports radical Islam.

Officials at the Clarion Fund have refused to reveal the group's donors, sparking speculation among Muslim advocates and Jewish bloggers alike. A few ties including a shared address have linked the Clarion Fund to Aish HaTorah International, a well-known, Jerusalem-based educational organization. The film's Canadian producer Raphael Shore is a full-time employee of Aish, which has strongly denied any involvement in the film.

The film is reportedly being used by military colleges and the military to educate students and troops about the Arab world, according to Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Obsession star Walid Shoebat spoke last year at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Weinstein said, and Brigitte Gabriel, a journalist turned anti-Muslim activist also featured in the film, delivered a lecture at the Joint Forces Staff College in 2007.

"The Obsession video has the total stamp of approval from the Department of Defense," said Weinstein, who lives in New Mexico and had two copies of Obsession delivered with the family's newspapers.

Shoebat says he was a Palestinian Liberation Organization terrorist until he had a change of heart while studying Jewish texts. "Convinced he was on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy," is the explanation given on his website. He has collected hefty fees for speaking engagements from far-right conservative Christian organizations such as Tim LaHaye's Pre-Trib Research Center and John Hagee's Christians United for Israel.

Gabriel was a news anchor on an Arabic station until immigrating to the U.S. in 1989. She founded the American Congress for Truth in 2001, described on its website as "a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating millions of uninformed Americans about the threat of radical Islam to world peace and national security."
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Author:Lydersen, Kari
Publication:Colorlines Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Words:505
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