Muslim Brotherhood front group CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) and it’s interfaith leftist dhimmis have been seething since they were not able to force the Museum to take out all references to “Jihad” and “Islamic terrorism” in the 7-minute film about al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks.
NY Times After the vivid audio recordings, diagrams and personal artifacts that take visitors minute by minute through the Sept. 11 attacks, and before the images of recovery workers combing through rubble, a small section of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is devoted to explaining Al Qaeda and terrorism.
A seven-minute video installation narrates a summarized history of Al Qaeda, opposite a series of brief explanatory panels about the group’s ideology and its attacks. On a recent weekday, some visitors stopped to watch the film in its entirety, but others only paused briefly. Some read the text panels, one of which explains that Al Qaeda represents a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims; many people did not.
In April, the video, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,”became the center of a controversy over how the museum should talk about Islam in reference to the attacks. An interfaith group of New York clergy members argued the film failed to sufficiently differentiate between terrorism and Islam, and asked for changes. Now that the public has access to the museum, some visitors say they agree.
Comparing it with the approach the museum uses to describe the attacks themselves — threading together the perspectives of survivors, witnesses and rescue workers to provide a multidimensional picture — visitors to the museum on a recent day described the museum’s treatment of Islam and terrorism as “clinical” and “light.” One woman, visiting from California with her daughter, characterized it as “an afterthought.”
While some said that was fine, others said they wanted more.
Last Thursday, among 20 people who had just gone through the museum, there was consensus that the museum did not come across as anti-Muslim. It provided them with basic information about Islam and Al Qaeda. But many said there was not enough explanation to enrich their perspective or teach them more than they already knew. Most worrisome, some said they thought a Muslim might feel uncomfortable visiting.
Advocates seeking changes in how the museum portrays Islam, meanwhile, are now pushing for the resignation of a museum board member, Debra Burlingame, who helped design museum programming even though she holds controversial views about Islam. Hundreds of people have signed an online petition calling for her dismissal.
On Fox News recently, Ms. Burlingame, whose brother was an airline pilot killed on Sept. 11, was asked to respond to a message she posted on Twitter: “When are citizens going to rise up and demand the govt acknowledge that Islam is a transnational threat, that govt denial is killing us.”
“They think you are an Islamophobe,” the Fox News host, Megyn Kelly, said. “I am hard pressed to deny it,” Ms. Burlingame responded. “There’s no such thing as an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims when we know that virtually 80 percent of terror attacks in the world are committed by radical Muslims.”
The museum has continued to stand behind Ms. Burlingame. “We are honored to have her serve on this board,” Joseph C. Daniels, the museum and memorial president, said in a statement.
At the museum itself, the controversy over the treatment of Islam has centered on the terminology used to describe Al Qaeda. The interfaith panel contended that using religion-related terms like Islamist and jihadist to describe the terrorists could lead people to believe that the group’s violent, radical beliefs were indicative of the wider religion.
Discussion of Islam in the museum is almost entirely within the context of terrorism. The first sentence visitors see when they enter describes the Sept. 11 attacks as the work of “an Islamist extremist network.” The video states that Al Qaeda is a “fringe of radical Islam” and describes Osama bin Laden as someone who saw his efforts “as a jihad, a struggle to defend Islam.” The video, which is narrated by the NBC News anchor Brian Williams, is tightly focused on Al Qaeda’s history and does not show images of Islam not related to terrorism. The only Muslims who speak are Qaeda leaders.