PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Tom Potter and a coalition of community members have asked The Oregonian newspaper not to distribute a controversial DVD about radical Muslims in Sunday's editions.
KATU obtained an e-mail written by an Oregonian reporter saying the DVD will be inserted into Sunday's paper as a paid advertisement. Top brass at the paper would not confirm that, however.
More than 70 newspapers across the country have distributed the DVDs this month. They were paid for by the New York-based Clarion Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2006, which targeted about 28 million households mostly in battleground election states. The group's focus is "the most urgent threat of radical Islam."
Never picked up for traditional distribution, "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" features scenes of Muslim children being urged to become suicide bombers, 9/11 carnage and interviews with critics of Islam.
Portland businessman and former mayoral candidate Sho Dozono believes the DVD will incite fear and hatred in the community and is pure hate-mongering and Muslim bashing.
"They don't necessarily say that you've got to get them, but they're saying they are going to get you," he said.
He and others wrote to the newspaper's publisher, asking to postpone distributing the DVDs. But Dozono said he never heard back.
Will Deming, a philosophy professor at the University of Portland, said the movie should be taken with a grain of salt, though ultimately it is probably good that people have the information.
Still, he added that there is a difference between terrorists and Islamists. And Dozono worries that that is a message lost in the film.
A U.S. Muslim advocacy group last week asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the Clarion Fund is a "front" for an Israel-based group with a stealth goal of helping Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Another organization, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, is a partner with the Clarion Fund in "The Obsession Project," which will also include research publications and issue forums.
Ari Morgenstern, a spokesman for that group, said targeting swing states was designed to attract media attention, but is not meant to influence the election result. He said the film "makes a very clear and upfront distinction between the majority of peaceful followers of Islam and those people who subscribe to a radical Islamic ideology."
Under federal election law and the tax code, nonprofit groups are restricted from getting involved in candidate races and foreign nationals may not contribute to American campaigns. The DVD's distributors say their efforts are issue-based and don't break election laws.
"We are not telling people who to vote for," said Gregory Ross, spokesman for the Clarion Fund. "We're just saying no matter who gets in office, the American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don't feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press."
The group is preparing to release another film, "Third Jihad," but has no plans for mass distribution, Ross said.
Story Published: Sep 27, 2008 at 5:39 PM PDT
By Meghan Kalkstein and News Services
Tags: Obsession, Radical, Islam's, War, Against, the, West, distribute, DVD, newspaper, The Oregonian
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States (load item map)
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