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NYT: Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to Islam

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Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to Islam

Past the towering tridents that survived the World Trade Center collapse, adjacent to a gallery with photographs of the 19 hijackers, a brief film at the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum will seek to explain to visitors the historical roots of the attacks.

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations.

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.

With the museum opening on May 21, it has shown the film to several groups, including an interfaith advisory group of clergy members. Those on the panel overwhelmingly took strong exception to the film, believing some of the terminology in it casts aspersions on all Muslims, and requested changes. But the museum has declined. In March, the sole imam in the group resigned to make clear that he could not endorse its contents.

“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,” Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan, 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.”

Museum officials are standing by the film, which they say was vetted by several scholars of Islam and of terrorism. A museum spokesman and panel members described the contents of the film, which was not made available to The New York Times for viewing.

“From the very beginning, we had a very heavy responsibility to be true to the facts, to be objective, and in no way smear an entire religion when we are talking about a terrorist group,” said Joseph C. Daniels, president and chief executive of the nonprofit foundation that oversees the memorial and museum.

But the disagreement has been ricocheting through scholarly circles in recent weeks. At issue is whether it is inflammatory for the museum to use terms like “Islamist” and “jihad” in conjunction with the Sept. 11 attack, without making clear that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. The panel has urged the use of more specific language, such as “Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism” and doing more to explain the meaning of jihad.

The terms “Islamist” and “jihadist” are often used to describe extremist Muslim ideologies. But the problem with using such language in a museum designed to instruct people for generations is that most visitors are “simply going to say Islamist means Muslims, jihadist means Muslims,” said Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of the Islamic studies department at American University in Washington.

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  • Jekyll

    Let’s not get started on the pathetic stupidity of Sterling and the young

  • Cengiz_K

    good point..

  • Rob Saunders

    Ghetto? Careful now, a bit of your your armband is showing.

  • Rob Saunders

    Why would CAIR (an American organisation) “send representatives in” to Pakistan or Iraq?

  • Rob Saunders
  • Rob Saunders

    “The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.”
    And why should it talk about Islam and Muslims at all?
    If the Norwegians had a museum commemorating Anders Breivik’s terrorist attacks, should it talk about Christians and Jews because he considered himself to be one and was inspired by people who consider themselves to be the other?

  • Rights

    Well, you know, disagreement is OK. And we are the metaphorical twins in so many ways.

  • jameyfan

    Well, we had to differ on something. haha I would question my own sanity if I was one of the few who believed this but I along with many sane experts currently growing in number don’t believe in just one source of “evidence”. Some of you believe in this evidence but others have seen evidence against it.To each his/her own I guess. It’s about time we disagree on something. I was beginning to think you’re my long lost twin. lol

  • Rights

    Jameyfan, fellow fighter against Islamophobia, I leave this subject with acknowledgment that you and I differ on it. I am thoroughly convinced that the notorious 19 did the extremely violent, terrorist deed on 9/11. But just out of courtesy to you, I went to the website, and found it just as conspiratorial as the innumerable others that I have checked, and that so many others wanted me to. I refuse to make my mind available to such folks’ conspiratorial inclinations. I urge you to do the same. To me even accepting that the said 19 were the culprits is a giant step forward in defending Islam. This is a deep topic that I think would be out of place here to discuss.

  • jameyfan

    I was kinda hoping you were right.

  • jameyfan

    oops sorry JD, didn’t see your post when I posted.

  • jameyfan

    My point being does this really have something to do with Islam since Islam forbids drinking, drugs, going to strip clubs or is it something else??

  • jameyfan

    Here’s why I said “alleged”.

    http://911review.com/myth/hijackers.html

  • jameyfan

    This is where I got “alleged” from.

    http://911review.com/myth/hijackers.html

  • Rights

    I wouldn’t say “alleged.” They were.

  • JD

    Before 1975, there were almost no Vietnamese people in the United States,
    but the destinies of Vietnam and the United States became increasingly intertwined during the 1950s and 1960s. Since the war, the Vietnamese have
    become one of the largest Asian American groups
    As of 1980 Vietnamese Americans were only 261,729

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_American

    April 18, 1975, less than two weeks before the fall of Saigon,
    President Ford authorized the entry of 130,000 refugees from the three
    countries of Indochina into the United States, 125,000 of whom were
    Vietnamese. This first large group of Vietnamese in America has become
    known as “the first wave.”

  • JD

    I am sorry Betty Ong lost her life. Do you also feel that strongly for the following people?

    Mohammed Hamdani – on the day of the 9/11 attacks, the 23-year-old certified EMT and onetime NYPD police cadet skipped his job at a university research lab
    to rush to the World Trade Center. Not long after, his family posted Hamdani’s picture on a wall of the missing. Six months later, his remains were found — in 34 parts.

    Shabbir
    Ahmed – 47 years old – Windows on the World Restaurant

    Tariq Amanullah – 40 years old – Fiduciary Trust Co.

    Michael Baksh – 36 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Touri Hamzavi Bolourchi – 69 years old – retired nurse on
    United #175

    Abul K. Chowdhury – 30 years old – Cantor Fitzgerald

    Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury – 38 years old – Windows on the
    World

    Jemal Legesse De Santis – 28 years old – World
    Trade Center

    Simon Suleman Ali Kassamali Dhanani – 63 years
    old – Aon Corp.

    Syed Abdul Fatha – 54 years old – Pitney Bowes

    Mon Gjonbalaj – 65 years old – Janitor, World
    Trade Center

    Nezam A. Hafiz – 32 years old – Marsh & McLennan

    Mohammed Salman Hamdani – 23 years old – NYPD
    Cadet

    Zuhtu Ibis – 25 years old – Cantor Fitzgerald

    Muhammadou Jawara – 30 years old – MAS Security

    Sarah Khan – 32 years old – Forte Food Service

    Taimour Firaz Khan – 29 years old – Carr
    Futures

    Abdoulaye Kone – 37 years old – Windows on the
    World

    Abdu Ali Malahi – 37 years old – WTC Marriott

    Nurul Hoque Miah – 35 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Boyie Mohammed – 50 years old – Carr Futures

    Ehtesham U. Raja – 28 years old – TCG Software

    Ameenia Rasool – 33 years old – Marsh & McLennan

    Mohammad
    Ali Sadeque – 62 years old – newspaper vendor at WTC, reported missing

    Rahma Salie & child – 28 years old (7 months pregnant) –
    American #11

    Khalid M. Shahid – 25 years old – Cantor
    Fitzgerald

    Mohammed Shajahan – 41 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Nasima Hameed Simjee – 38 years old – Fiduciary
    Trust Co.

    Michael Theodoridis – 32 years old – American #11

    Abdoul Karim Traore – 41 years old – Windows on the World

    Karamo Trerra – 40 years old – ASAP NetSource

    Shakila Yasmin – 26 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    2.Before 1975, there were almost no Vietnamese people in the United States,
    but the destinies of Vietnam and the United States became increasingly
    intertwined during the 1950s and 1960s. Since the war, the Vietnamese have
    become one of the largest Asian American groups.
    April 18, 1975, less than two weeks before the fall of Saigon,
    President Ford authorized the entry of 130,000 refugees from the three
    countries of Indochina into the United States, 125,000 of whom were
    Vietnamese. This first large group of Vietnamese in America has become
    known as “the first wave.”

  • JD

    You do remember that other country we invaded right. Its next to Afghanistan . Still waiting for you explain how pointing out facts We invaded 2 country

    Afghanistan and Iraq and

    123,071 –
    136,916 civilians died in Iraq alone. That number is recent number up to today while GW Bush is at home painting pictures and has a library (Irony in that can’t be ignored)named after him.

    123,071 –
    136,916 people someone Mothers Father son daughters dead. I am sure someone out there is pissed off at us right now because of that. I guess pointing that out to you is also making excuses for OBL and supporting terrorism.

  • Just_Stopping_By
  • JD

    Frequent poster

    1.I acknowledge
    that on 9/11 a few pissed of dudes did highjack airplanes and killed 3000
    humans who had nothing to do with anything and as a human and I think a
    decent person (depends on your opinion) does piss me off . What ever there
    motive was

    “God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the Towers,

    but after the situation became unbearable—and we witnessed the

    injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our

    people in Palestine and Lebanon—I
    thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982
    and the events that followed—when America
    allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon,
    helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon,

    it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in

    America so it
    could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop

    killing our children and women.”

    — Osama bin Laden, 2004

    is the only thing that matters . The coincidence that they were muslim has
    nothing to do with anything. Just like Timmy McVeigh religion had zero to do with the OK city
    bombing and his motives.

    2. Sure hold OBL responsible for 9/11. We are all
    for that. The problem is this movie deploys haphazard and academically
    controversial terminology, in

    particular ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’, to generalize, unnecessarily, about

    al-Qaeda’s acts of terrorism.

    Does not properly contextualize al-Qaeda as a small organization in comparison to
    the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

    Uses stereotypical, accented English for speakers of Arabic in translation.

    May give some viewers, especially those not familiar with the

    subtleties of the terminology being used, the impression that Islam, as a

    religion, is responsible for September 11

    This leads to things like

    Sept. 15, 2001 — Mesa, Ariz.: Four days after the

    infamous attacks of 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh, is shot and
    killed outside the gas station he owned by Frank Silva Roque.

    When police approached to arrest him, Roque says, “I’m a patriot and an
    American. I’m American. I’m a damn American.”

    Nov. 18, 2001 — Palermo,
    N.Y.: Three teens burn down

    Gobind Sadan, a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in New York,
    because they thought

    it was named for Osama bin Laden.

    Dec. 12, 2001 — Los Angeles, Calif.: Surinder Singh

    Sidhi, a liquor store owner in Los Angeles who took to wearing an

    American flag turban after 9/11 out of fear of being attacked, is beaten

    in his store by two men who accuse of him of being Osama bin Laden

    May 20, 2003 — Phoenix,
    Ariz.: Fifty-two-year-old Sikh

    immigrant and truck driver Avtar Singh is shot in his 18-wheeler while

    waiting for his son to pick him up. As he is being shot, he hears

    someone say: “Go back to where you belong.”

    3. Why do insult the memories of the victims of
    9/11

    Shabbir
    Ahmed – 47 years old – Windows on the World Restaurant

    Tariq Amanullah – 40 years old – Fiduciary Trust Co.

    Michael Baksh – 36 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Touri Hamzavi Bolourchi – 69 years old – retired nurse on
    United #175

    Abul K. Chowdhury – 30 years old – Cantor Fitzgerald

    Mohammad Salahuddin Chowdhury – 38 years old – Windows on the
    World

    Jemal Legesse De Santis – 28 years old – World
    Trade Center

    Simon Suleman Ali Kassamali Dhanani – 63 years
    old – Aon Corp.

    Syed Abdul Fatha – 54 years old – Pitney Bowes

    Mon Gjonbalaj – 65 years old – Janitor, World
    Trade Center

    Nezam A. Hafiz – 32 years old – Marsh & McLennan

    Mohammed Salman Hamdani – 23 years old – NYPD
    Cadet

    Zuhtu Ibis – 25 years old – Cantor Fitzgerald

    Muhammadou Jawara – 30 years old – MAS Security

    Sarah Khan – 32 years old – Forte Food Service

    Taimour Firaz Khan – 29 years old – Carr
    Futures

    Abdoulaye Kone – 37 years old – Windows on the
    World

    Abdu Ali Malahi – 37 years old – WTC Marriott

    Nurul Hoque Miah – 35 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Boyie Mohammed – 50 years old – Carr Futures

    Ehtesham U. Raja – 28 years old – TCG Software

    Ameenia Rasool – 33 years old – Marsh & McLennan

    Mohammad
    Ali Sadeque – 62 years old – newspaper vendor at WTC, reported missing

    Rahma Salie & child – 28 years old (7 months pregnant) –
    American #11

    Khalid M. Shahid – 25 years old – Cantor
    Fitzgerald

    Mohammed Shajahan – 41 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    Nasima Hameed Simjee – 38 years old – Fiduciary
    Trust Co.

    Michael Theodoridis – 32 years old – American #11

    Abdoul Karim Traore – 41 years old – Windows on the World

    Karamo Trerra – 40 years old – ASAP NetSource

    Shakila Yasmin – 26 years old – Marsh &
    McLennan

    And the 100+ Muslim first responders firefighters
    Police officers Doctors that showed up after the attack to help people by
    blaming there religion for a few pissed off guys . They never asked the person
    religion ,age, sex anything before assisting people . Why do you continue to
    insult them by using there name and the act of 9/11 for your hate of Islam and Muslims
    . I would like to know how by pointing out facts and attempting to understand the reasons for terrorist attacks (see the OBL quote above and
    below )are we giving the perspective of Osama Bin Laden ?

    4.

    “God knows it did not cross our minds to attack the Towers,

    but after the situation became unbearable—and we witnessed the

    injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our

    people in Palestine and Lebanon—I
    thought about it. And the events that affected me directly were that of 1982
    and the events that followed—when America
    allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon,
    helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon,

    it occurred to me punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in

    America so it
    could taste some of what we are tasting and to stop

    killing our children and women.”

    — Osama bin Laden, 2004

    5. For idiots like your self who insist on blaming
    Islam for everything from the Moon Landing to dog ran over by a car Yes. The
    rest of us don’t live in a world blinded by hate

  • JD

    9/11 Museum Board Member Debra Burlingame ‘Has Espoused Anti-Muslim Views’ (The Daily Beast)

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/29/the-9-11-museum-s-muslim-problem.html

    What’s behind the museum’s actions? A theory advanced by
    Gudaitis is that Debra Burlingame, one of the 11 members of the museum’s
    program board, which decides content, has espoused anti-Muslim views.

    In 2010, she issued a press release denouncing President Obama’s
    support of the “Ground Zero Mosque.” That place of worship, she claimed,
    would spread Sharia law across the United States, leading to the
    “subjugation of all free people, including secular Muslims who come to
    this country fleeing that medieval ideology, which destroys lives and
    crushes the human spirit.”

    Burlingame also recently wrote a letter attacking the Liam Neeson film Non-Stop
    because the hijacker in the film is a military combat veteran and
    “worse, the flight’s quiet hero who comes to the aid of the protagonist,
    thereby saving the day, is a Muslim doctor.”

  • jameyfan

    “Is Islam completely blameless in this whole affair ? Should it be completely absolved by the owners of the museum ?”

    Ofcourse Islam is completely blameless! Why blame Islam for what the hijackers have done?!

  • jameyfan

    “No one forced them to do what they did. Not Amaerican occupation. Not
    foreign policy. Only their pathological hatred for people who were
    different from them”

    *sigh* no one here said that either. I don’t know what you’re getting at and your last line is just your assumption.

    and again, you need to do some research. American bases have been in Saudi Arabia where the alleged hijackers are from and American bases in most other Muslim countries as well.

    How old are you?? Were you born yesterday?

  • jameyfan

    “The hijackers of 9/11 (all Muslim) had no legitimate reason to hijack those planes and slam them into buildings.”

    No one had said otherwise. Ofcourse there’s no legitimate reason. However, there’s always a motive for why people do the craziest things. Just because they’re crazy Muslims doesn’t mean it has anything to do with Islam. I don’t know how many times people have to explain that to you.

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