During a press conference held yesterday at the Interfaith Alliance in Washington, DC, prominent religious Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders condemned the recent distribution of an anti-Muslim DVD to more than 28 million households in key election swing states. Rabbi Jack Moline, Chair of the Interfaith Alliance also called on both presidential campaigns to “promote a pluralistic view of religion and faith as a source of unity and healing in our country” and “reject the use of religion as a political weapon.”
Rabbi Jack Moline said in part:
The distributors of this film have attempted, by inference and innuendo, to limit the rights of Muslims to enjoy the free exercise of their faith. To add insult to injury, the target markets of this film are states considered critical to both presidential candidates, and were chosen in order to influence the outcome of the election, in favor of the producer’s candidate.
Terrorism is a real threat to this country and, in fact, to every country. Our next President, whoever he may be, will need to deal with terrorism as a strategy on many fronts and from many sources. The misdirection of “Obsession” not only sullies and alienates the adherents of Islam, but distracts the attention of all concerned Americans from the genuine threats from terrorist renegades of many origins, including non-Muslim Americans.
We at the Interfaith Alliance call on Senator McCain and Senator Obama to repudiate this film and to reject the support of those associated with it. We call on them to promote a pluralistic view of religion and faith as a source of unity and healing in our country. We call on both candidates to reject the use of religion as a political weapon. The good work of interfaith relations all over this country would be strengthened by encouragement, from the next president of the United States.
I would like to add a personal note of disappointment that the Clarion Fund and its founder, also the producer of this film, are tied closely to a prominent Jewish organization. As a board member of the Interfaith Alliance, I promise to turn a critical eye first to my own community. The Rabbi whose name appears on this film as a producer and co-writer has a hard repentance ahead of him on Yom Kippur. I will include his actions in my own confession of sins.
MPAC Community Development Director Haris Tarin also presented an interfaith statement, which has been signed by more than 80 Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders around the country in the past five days. The statement expresses “deep concern over the recent distribution of a deeply divisive and anger-provoking DVD” which undermines “our common and cherished beliefs by inciting fear and furthering ignorant stereotypes.” (Click here to read the full statement and find out how you can sign on.)
In his comments, Chris Seiple, President of the Institute of Global Engagement and a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals, said in part:
As a Christian organization, we believe that the heart of religious freedom is respect with and reconciliation with the other, whoever the other might be within our own respective societies across the globe. In fact, we believe religious freedom, thoughtfully understood, and appropriately applied is the ultimate counter terrorism tool.
I personally, as someone from an evangelical persuasion, find the movie mind boggling. Why would we internationally show profound disrespect for a significant minority within our own American community? Why would we intentionally do that to our fellow Americans?
Other speakers at the press conference included Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy (President of the Interfaith Alliance), Mark Johnson (Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation), and Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed (National Director of Interfaith & Community Alliances for the Islamic Society of North America).
Following the release of “Obsession” in 2006, MPAC launched a campaign to counter the bigotry inspired by the film. Since its debut, the “Truth Over Fear: Countering Islamophobia” campaign has provided more than 50 educational workshops across the country featuring a critique and analysis of the film as a propaganda tool, an educational video about Islamophobia, and has trained community members to educate others about the destructive value of bigotry and prejudice.
Still more must be done. There are two ways that you can help:
1. Join the ‘Truth Over Fear’ team. Get involved, connect with MPAC and individuals across the nation by standing up to hatred and intolerance in your local community. Get the tools that you need to educate your community and stop bigotry in its tracks. Contact MPAC at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a workshop in your area.
2. Click here to read and sign onto the interfaith statement voicing deep concern about the distribution of “Obsession.”