Since Op-Docs, our forum for short, opinionated documentaries, produced with creative latitude across many subjects, started in November 2011, 46 short films and videos have been published on nytimes.com. Today we begin a new Op-Docs feature: Scenes. It will be a platform for very short work — snippets of street life, brief observations and interviews, clips from experimental and artistic nonfiction videos — that follow less traditional documentary narrative conventions. This first Scenes video presents a classic New York moment, recorded last year. — The Editors
We spent much of last year making a documentary, “The Education of Mohammad Hussein,” inside a conservative Islamic school near Detroit. Overall we encountered a fearful community, mistrusting of outsiders. Muslims of all ages expressed a deep sense of being unwanted and spied-on by those who were quick to suspect them of wrongdoing.
During production, Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who publicly set fire to the Koran in a mock trial (and who recently received a death threat in Egypt for his links to the infamous video “Innocence of Muslims”) came to town to hold an anti-Muslim rally. The event provoked a small riot, arrests and heightened tension in the area.
We followed Mr. Jones to New York for the events surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11. One day at the World Trade Center site, men and women in the crowd held signs that shouted “Stand back: I’m on jihad watch” and “We will not submit to sharia law in the USA.” Whenever the term “Muslim-American” was mentioned, boos erupted from the crowd. The hate was overwhelming.
On Sept. 10, we followed Mr. Jones to Times Square. All kinds of bystanders listened, silently at first, while he ranted against the Muslim faith.
Then, incredibly, the crowd responded not with taunts, jeers or indifference… but with the Beatles. The sunnier side of the term “mob mentality” spontaneously emerged, and we were once again overwhelmed by that well-worn cliché that sometimes fits just right: “Only in New York.”
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are New York-based documentary filmmakers. Their forthcoming film “The Education of Mohammad Hussein,” which is on the short list for the Academy Award for short-subject documentary, is to be broadcast on HBO in 2013. Their previous Op-Doc was “Dismantling Detroit.”
News Agencies – October 12, 2012
Local Muslims will go door-to-door in Edmonton and Leduc, Canada as part of a national campaign to educate Canadians about Islam and dispel misconceptions about Muhammad made in an American anti-Muslim video. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are responding to a call from their spiritual leader in England to peacefully protest The Innocence of Muslims, a video that outraged the Muslim world with its depiction of the Islamic prophet after a trailer of the film was posted on YouTube.
Muslims have a right to be angry but violent reaction must be condemned, Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said in a statement issued late last month.
The Ahmadiyya community’s last national campaign two years ago was a response to controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones’ threats to burn Qur’ans on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. About 3,500 young volunteers visited 429,129 houses, reaching out to 1.7 million people in Canada to promote peace, condemn terrorism and violence, and dispel myths about Islam, Rabbani said.
News Agencies – October 11, 2012
A Florida pastor made famous by his strident anti-Islam views and widely publicized Koran immolation was barred entry into Canada because border officials had qualms about legal tussles in his past. Terry Jones was supposed to attend a multifaith debate on the film Innocence of Muslims outside Ontario’s legislature. Mr. Jones and Wayne Sapp, associate director of Stand Up America Now, said they were stopped at the Michigan-Ontario border and searched before being turned away.
At issue is a breach of peace charge against Mr. Sapp that he said was overturned, and a fine Mr. Jones had to pay in Germany for using the title “Doctor” from an unrecognized institution, a complaint Mr. Sapp said was successfully appealed. The debate was to go forward Thursday evening with a substitute in Mr. Jones’s place. Allan Einstoss, one of the debate’s organizers, said the event is meant to be a statement about the importance of freedom of speech. Imam Steve Rockwell of Toronto’s Sheikh Deedat mosque, who was to debate Mr. Jones Thursday, argues that the pastor goes too far.
Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones on Saturday burned copies of the Quran and an image depicting Muhammad in front of his church to protest the imprisonment in Iran of a Christian clergyman.
Moments later, Gainesville Fire Rescue issued the church a citation for violating the city’s fire ordinances.
Saturday’s act of protest took place in spite of published reports that the Pentagon had urged Jones to reconsider, expressing concern that American soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere could be put at greater risk because of the act.
About 20 people gathered Saturday on church property at 5805 NW 37th Street about 5 p.m. for the planned burning. Several Gainesville police officers were stationed across the street from the church or were patrolling the area. A few people watched the scene, but there were no protesters.
Jones and another pastor demanded the release of the Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from an Iranian prison. Jones said Nadarkhani faces execution.
Terry Jones, the controversial American preacher who wanted to burn the Koran in public, has been banned from entering Britain. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, banned Mr Jones after he accepted an invitation to address England is Ours, a fringe anti-Islamic group with links to the British National Party.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The Government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK. Numerous comments made by Pastor Jones are evidence of his unacceptable behaviour.”
The preacher had hoped to address demonstrations in the UK against Islam and said refusing him entry was a blow against free speech.
When Terry Jones, a Florida pastor, announced his plan to burn Qurans on 9/11 with a tweet and an “International Burn a Koran Day” page on Facebook, he ignited an international conflagration of outrage.
As news spread, worldwide condemnation and anxiety mounted. At least two people died in a demonstration in Afghanistan. It seemed this obscure self-proclaimed pastor in Gainesville, Florida, was determined to carry out an action of catastrophic global consequences.
Now that the crisis is over, CNN asked contributors to write their observations of what happened, and what lessons the pastor’s threat and the events that followed can teach us.
Prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders held an extraordinary “emergency summit” meeting in the capital on Tuesday to denounce what they called “the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry” aimed at American Muslims during the controversy over the proposed Islamic community center near ground zero.
They said they were alarmed that the “anti-Muslim frenzy” and attacks at several mosques had the potential not only to tear apart the country, but also to undermine the reputation of America as a model of religious freedom and diversity.
Gen. David H. Petraeus warned on Tuesday that any video of Americans burning the Koran “would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence,” endangering the lives of American soldiers.
In Gainesville, Florida, clergy members, academics and elected officials planned dozens of events to counter the plan to burn Korans, as planned by Pastor Terry Jones, starting on Wednesday with an interfaith prayer service.