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August 30, 2006
Movie Review: Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West

During last weekend's appearances at the Minnesota State Fair, I met Vince Muzik of Minnesotans Against Terrorism, who told me of a new feature-length documentary MAT had assisted in producing. He agreed to send me a copy of the film on DVD for an opportunity to preview it ahead of its Minneapolis premiere next week, and we watched it tonight.

Based on Vince's casual introduction of it at the fair, I didn't know what to expect from Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against The West, the film produced by Wayne Kopping and Raphael Shore. It actually is quite an impressive production. Obsession, according to IMDB, had its release last year and has won several film festival awards, notably the Best Feature Film at the Liberty Film Festival and awards in Houston and Newport Beach festivals as well. Kopping's previous effort, Relentless: The Struggle For Peace In The Middle East, provided a critical look at the Oslo accords, but Kopping opts for a much broader view in Obsession.

The film takes care to differentiate between mainstream Islam and radical Islamism, and it does so for a reason. Several of the commentators featured in the film, notably former jihadist Walid Shoebat, Nonie Darwish, Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, and others are in fact moderate Muslims. They argue that mainstream Islam has to stand up and put an end to the perversion of Islamism, and only that will stop the genocides waiting to happen. It's a theme that returns over and over again. In fact, the movie begins and ends with the famous quotation from the great Irish statesman Edmund Burke about how the triumph of evil only requires that good men do nothing. Muslims such as Brigitte Gabriel make this point explicitly, especially at the end.

The opening sequence of the film takes up more time than I think it needs, and it delays one of the film's most important themes from developing until almost midway through, which is the correlations between Islamism and Naziism. To this purpose, the film makes excellent use of Alfons Heck, an elderly German academic who once served as a high-ranking officer in the Hitler Youth. Heck points out that a worldy and sophisticated German people fell for the crudest kind of anti-Semitic propaganda -- so why should anyone expect the Arabs to resist their own government-produced propaganda? Indeed, Obsession fills itself with television clips gleaned from all over the Arab world, giving American viewers perhaps their first real taste of how pervasive the paranoia gets in Arab culture.

This connection with Naziism goes beyond the hordes of jihadis sporting salutes that look suspiciously like Sieg Heils. Obession also reviews the historical connections between Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, whom Hitler embraced to the bemusement of his race-baiting followers. Heck recalls questioning why HItler allied with a non-Aryan group, and getting the answer that Nazis and Arabs wanted the same thing: the annihilation of the Jews. The Mufti later went to Bosnia and created an SS regiment of Muslims, one of the reasons that the Serbians -- who fought the Nazis -- felt betrayed by the West's alliance with the Bosnians in the 1990s.

Quite a few scholars and experts make appearances in this film, such as Prof. Robert Wistrich, Daniel Pipes, Salim Mansur, Khaled Abu Toameh, and Itamar Marcus. Other notables appear as well, although not by choice: Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Abu Hamza al-Masri, and an assortment of imams and jihadis. The film even outs one British Muslim who posed as a moderate by denouncing the 9/11 attacks, and then catches him using the second anniversary of the attacks to praise the 19 hijackers at a conference of Muslims.

Obsession is well worth the 75 minutes viewers invest. If you happen to be in Minneapolis, it can be seen at the Oak Street Cinema twice a night between September 8th and 15th. I do not know how Kopping intends on putting this into wider release, but I will try to get more information on it later.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 30, 2006 8:51 PM

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