An interfaith group is protesting a film called, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” that will be shown at the National September 11 Memorial Museum when it opens next month.
The advisory group is concerned that the seven-minute film will leave visitors with a prejudiced view of Islam. In it, the 9/11 terrorists are referred to as Islamists and it uses the term jihad. The group wants Islamists amended to “radical Islamists” or “Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism.”
“The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum,” Sheik Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan and member of the interfaith group, wrote in a letter to the museum’s director.
“Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between Al Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”
On last night’s Kelly File, Megyn spoke to Clifford Chanin, education director of the 9/11 Memorial.
He defended the film, telling Megyn that they understand the sensitivity surrounding 9/11 and that they vetted the language describing Al Qaeda’s roots and motivation before putting it in the film.
As for differentiating between Islamists and radical Islamists, Chanin said, “We have used the terms Islamists as it is used across news media, […] universities, scholars and government officials. This is a standard term that describes people who are motivated by a belief that all Muslims should be ruled under their version of Islamic law. That specifically applies to Al Qaeda as a very radical version of the Islamists belief.”
For Muslims, jihad is the struggle for self-improvement. Chanin acknowledged that there are different meanings for the term, but said in the context of Al Qaeda and 9/11, there’s a “highly politicized, extremely violent definition of jihad that guided the actions and thoughts of bin Laden and his associates.”
Chanin held firm that the film will not be changed and no disclaimer will be added.
Megyn also spoke to Jonathan Tobin, the senior online editor for Commentary Magazine, who said that the controversy is really about a desire to absolve Islam from any connection Al Qaeda.
“We’ve been hearing since 9/11 that America is in the midst of a backlash against American Muslims as a result of 9/11. This is a myth,” Tobin said. “There’s never been any study, not any credible study that shows that there was any wave of discrimination or any increase in religion-based attacks against Muslims.”
He added that erasing Islam from the narrative doesn’t strengthen moderate Muslims and interfaith relations.