New French documentary on radical Islam sparks controversy

A new documentary on the rise of radical Islam in France has sparked controversy among the French public, with viewers’ opinions ranging from praise to outrage. The filmmaker has been slammed as ‘sensationalist’ and ‘provocateur’ by the head of the town in which part of it was filmed.

The first episode of new show “Dossier Tabou” titled “Islam in France: the failure of the Republic” was aired on Wednesday, September 28 on the M6 channel. Watched by some 2.4 million viewers, it immediately grabbed public attention, topping of Twitter discussion trends.

The documentary revolved around the financing of Islamism by foreign powers, such as Saudi Arabia, its organization and its internal divisions, as well as the training of imams. In a manner of illustration, it showed excerpts from sermons by a confirmed radical cleric named Mohamed Khattabi, who had been under house arrest for nearly three months after the attacks in France in November 2015.

A part of the documentary was filmed in the northern French city of Sevran, in the department of Seine Saint Denis. The city has been regarded as a place of widespread Islamist recruitment, after at least 15 young men left it to go and fight within the ranks of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq since 2014. Six are known to have died there.

Bernard de La Villardiere, the French journalist, radio and television presenter who authored the documentary, could be seen getting into a heated argument with local youths outside the town’s mosque which is suspected of links to Islamism and is currently being probed by authorities. The argument ended in a brawl.

Jacob Bender Is First Jew to Lead Chapter of CAIR

October 17, 2013

 
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has hired a Jewish filmmaker and interfaith activist as executive director of the advocacy group’s Philadelphia office.

Jacob Bender is the highest ranking non-Muslim in the Washington-based organization, and the first to lead one of its chapters.

“Many Muslims face daily suspicion, not unlike other immigrant groups throughout history,” said Bender, explaining that he felt people had a responsibility to confront bigotry. “When one group of Americans is attacked, it lessens the quality of democracy for all of us.”

Jacob Bender is set to be the voice of Philadelphia-area Muslims, to take on discrimination they encounter in workplace and in the public sphere, and to fight expressions of hate.

The Council on American Islamic Relations’ Philadelphia branch announced the appointment of Bender as its executive director October 15. Bender is the first Jew, and the first non-Muslim, to serve as director of a CAIR branch.

“The needs of the Muslim community are really the needs of any minority community in the United States,” said Iftekhar Hussein, chairman of CAIR-Philadelphia’s board of directors. “Jacob, being Jewish, understands that from his own background.”

An activist on Jewish-Muslim interfaith issues who has been involved in the past on the progressive end of Middle East peace advocacy, Bender will face two entirely different sets of expectations in his new position

He will meet a local Muslim community expecting a non-Muslim to represent its needs just as well as would a member of their own faith.

He will also face a national Jewish leadership that has all but deemed CAIR off-limits for any dialogue.

 

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2013/10/17/cair-taps-jewish-filmmaker-lead-philadelphia-chapter/

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ movie review

There’s a double meaning to the title of “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” filmmaker Mira Nair’s great, gripping and complex drama based on the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid about the roots of extremism.

On a superficial level, “fundamentalist” refers to religious identity, one unfortunately most often associated with Islamic terrorism these days. And the story — about an ambitious, Pakistani-born Wall Street financial analyst who becomes disenchanted with the United States after 9/11 — certainly suggests that most obvious reading. In that interpretation, the reluctant fundamentalist is an assimilated Muslim forced into anti-American radicalism by America itself.

But the hero Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), whom we meet at the outset as an older and wiser professor of revolutionary studies at Lahore University, isn’t quite what he appears. The other meaning of “fundamentalist” refers to Changez’s prior life in the states, where, as a young man, he was paid big bucks to fix broken companies, coolly evaluating — and, if necessary, streamlining — a business’s “fundamentals.” That means he was often in the position of having to fire people, a job that might inspire reluctance in anyone with a heart. (The name Changez Khan is a variant of Genghis Khan.)

From Man Who Insulted Muhammad, No Regret

LOS ANGELES — Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making “Innocence of Muslims,” his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.

Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction.

Not at all. In his first public comments since his incarceration soon after the video gained international attention in September, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called “the actual truth” about Muhammad. “I thought, before I wrote this script,” he said, “that I should burn myself in a public square to let the American people and the people of the world know this message that I believe in.”

In explaining his reasons for the film, Mr. Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian born in Egypt, cited the 2009 massacre at Fort Hood, Tex., as a prime example of the violence committed “under the sign of Allah.” His anger seemed so intense over the years that even from a federal prison in 2010, he followed the protests against the building of an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero in New York as he continued to work on his movie script.

Obama says anti-Muslim video ‘is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well’

UNITED NATIONS — Mr. Obama will tell world leaders that the United States will not shrink from its role in troubled, transitioning nations despite the killing of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens.

More than 50 people have died in violence in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia linked, at least in part, to recent protests against an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

In excerpts of his General Assembly speech released in advance by the White House, Mr. Obama will say, “There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an Embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded.

“If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis. Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common.

Mr. Obama will declare that the United States of America will stand up for the aspirations of people everywhere who “long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes from faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people – and not the other way around.”

Much of the recent violent protests have been directed at the United States because the anti-Islam film was produced in this country; there have been public calls for the filmmaker’s arrest, extradition nor murder.

The White House has now deemed the attack on its consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack” but they have stopped short of calling it premeditated.

Public face of anti-Muslim film: Vietnam vet, insurance agent with outspoken views on Islam

HEMET, Calif. — The public face for the anti-Muslim film inflaming the Middle East is not the filmmaker, but an insurance agent and Vietnam War veteran whose unabashed and outspoken hatred of radical Muslims has drawn the attention of civil libertarians, who say he’s a hate monger.

Nakoula, the filmmaker, contacted Klein months ago for advice about the limits of American free speech and asked for help vetting the movie’s script, Klein said in an interview with The Associated Press.  As the role dovetailed with Klein’s relentless pursuit of radical Muslims in America, an activity he says he began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It took on more meaning in 2007, when his son, then a 27-year-old Army staff sergeant, was seriously injured in Iraq. Matthew Klein, a medic, was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered in the attack by a suicide bomber, according to the Army Human Resources Command.

He claimed to have visited “every mosque in California” and identified “500 to 750 of these people who are future suicide bombers and murderers.”

“Those are the guys I’m looking for. I’m not interested in mom and pop running a pizza store or running a smoky shop, a hookah shop,” he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says they have been tracking Klein for several years and have labeled two of the organizations he is affiliated with as hate groups.

Klein founded Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques, and started Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which preaches against Muslims and publishes volumes of anti-Muslim propaganda that Klein distributes. He also has helped train paramilitary militias at the church of Kaweah near Three Rivers, about an hour southeast of Fresno, to prepare for what they believe is a coming holy war with Muslim sleeper cells, according to the law center.

New details emerge of anti-Islam film’s mystery producer

The spotlight in the search for the creators of an incendiary video mocking Islam that set off a wave of anti-American violence in the Middle East shifted Thursday to a shadowy gas station owner with a record of criminal arrests and bankruptcy, who associates said expressed anti-Muslim sentiments as he pushed for the making of the film.

 

CNN initially reported that the man behind the “Innocence of Muslims” movie is likely not an “Israeli real estate developer” by the name of Sam Bacile, but instead as some speculated an Egyptian Copt by the name Abenob Nakoula Bassely.  There are still doubts about who Bacile actually is and as Israel has no knowledge of a citizen by the name of Sam Bacile.

At the heart of the mystery was the filmmaker himself, a man identified in the casting call as Sam Bassiel, on the call sheet as Sam Bassil and reported at first by news outlets as Sam Bacile.

But federal officials consider that man to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud.

 

In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker characterized his movie, now called “Innocence of Muslims,” as “a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.”

“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” they said in a statement.

 

The filmmaker told the Wall Street Journal Jewish donors contributed $5 million to make the film. Based on the trailer, however, the amateurish movie appears to have been produced on a low budget.

Anti-Muslim activist Steve Klein, who said he was a script consultant for the movie, said the filmmaker told him his idea was to make a film that would reveal “facts, evidence and proof” about the Prophet Mohammed to people he perceived as radical Muslims.

Klein said the movie was called “Innocence of Bin Laden.”

Klein is known in Southern California for his vocal opposition to the construction of a mosque in Temecula, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2010. He heads up Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, a group that contends Islam is a threat to American freedom.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones to ask him to withdraw his support for the film, said Col. David Lapan, Dempsey’s spokesman.

Leaders of the Coptic Church in the United States, after a fringe figure claiming to be a Coptic leader was linked Wednesday to promoting the film, forcefully denounced the video and denied any connection to the activists who promoted the trailer. They said they learned of the film only with news of the protests.

Small Demonstration in Amsterdam Protests Anti-Islam Movie

15 September 2012

 

A planned demonstration involving about 30 people took place on Amsterdam’s Dam Square on 14 September, protesting the American-made film Innocence of Muslims. Local media provided commentary on the movie and the international response of the past week, with Radio Netherlands Worldwide attributing the violent events to “a dismal misunderstanding” in which “the work of an extremist individual [the filmmaker]” is taken as representative of the American nation. Dutch News reports that in anticipation of the demonstration the American consulate on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, as well as two schools in the neighborhood, closed early.

French-Algerian filmmaker tackles identity politics on the silver screen

Friday, 31 August 2012

French politician and filmmaker Yamina Benguigui has tackled sensitive issues in France in relation to individuals of Maghreb origin within her productions, which focus on immigration and identity politics.

In an interview, Benguigui pointed towards the importance of political discussion within her movies, particularly in her latest film “Immigrant Memories.”

Born in France to Algerian parents, Benguigui has criticized political scenarios in France through her filmmaking.

The film also gives insight into the lives and history of many Algerians and Moroccans living in France, including Benguigui’s family. Raised in a moderate Islamic household, Benguigui believes she has inherited a degree of wisdom from her parents in regards to their religiosity.

Speaking of French President Francois Hollande, Benguigui said that he was the first statesman and president who is concerned about minorities, which was made evident in his proposals during his presidential campaign.

Update: Shari4Holland Spokesman Fined

11 July 2012

 

Ab Qasim, a member of the Shariah4Holland group, has been fined 750 Euros for his comments threatening PVV leader Geert Wilders. Speaking at an impromptu press conference in Amsterdam in May, Qasim suggested that Wilders should learn the lesson of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was murdered in 2004. In addition to the fine Qasim has been sentenced to 150 hours community service and a month’s suspended sentence.