A coalition of American Muslim and Arab-American organizations (see list below) today urged the National September 11 Memorial Museum to consider editing a planned film presentation, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” because it may lead viewers to wrongly conclude that that the entire faith of Islam is responsible for the 2001 terror attacks.
In an open letter to museum President Joe Daniels and Director Alice Greenwald, the organizations wrote in part:
“We have learned that you have been aware, since at least June 2013, that viewers have found this video confusing and possibly inflammatory. The museum’s own interfaith religious advisory group has repeatedly asked that this video be edited, with their concerns being dismissed.
“According to their testimony, the video:
* Deploys haphazard and academically controversial terminology, in particular ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’, to generalize, unnecessarily, about al-Qaeda’s acts of terrorism.
* Does not properly contextualize al-Qaeda as a small organization in comparison to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
* Uses stereotypical, accented English for speakers of Arabic in translation.
* May give some viewers, especially those not familiar with the subtleties of the terminology being used, the impression that Islam, as a religion, is responsible for September 11.
“The existence, and your dismissal, of these concerns are extremely worrisome for our organizations. The September 11 Memorial Museum, built with hundreds of millions of dollars of federal money, will inevitably become one of the nation’s most visited cultural institutions. Many of the constituencies that our organizations represent have suffered from stigmatization, discrimination, and increased hate crimes since September 11, 2001. The September 11 Memorial Museum has explicitly pledged to project moral authority and foster a better world, and we urge you to avoid potentially contributing to further discrimination through an ill-considered and insufficiently vetted video.