Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West


Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West

DVD cover art
Directed by Wayne Kopping
Produced by Peter Mier
Raphael Shore
Written by Wayne Kopping
Raphael Shore
Editing by Wayne Kopping
Distributed by Clarion Fund
Release date(s) Liberty Film Festival
October 21, 2005
Language English
Arabic
French
Persian

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West, also called Obsession, is a controversial 2005 documentary film about the perceived threat of radical Islam to Western civilization. Using extensive Arab television footage it claims to give an 'insider's view' of the hatred preached by radicals to incite global jihad and seek world domination. It also draws parallels between WWII's Nazi movement and Islamism and the West's response to those threats.[1]

The movie has both been praised and criticized as being Islamophobic and holding a strong Israeli bias (having been heavily funded by pro-Zionist corporations). One of the writers/producers of the film, Raphael Shore, is a Canadian-Israeli film writer, producer, Rabbi and founder of The Clarion Fund.

The unusual distribution of 28 million free Obsession DVDs as an insert in over 70 US newspapers in the months leading to the 2008 presidential elections has led to much attention.

Contents

Plot

The movie begins with the following statement:[2]

"This is a film about radical Islamic terror. A dangerous ideology, fueled by religious hatred. It's important to remember most Muslims are peaceful and do not support terror. This is not a film about them. This is a film about a radical worldview, and the threat it poses to us all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike."

The film uses many images from Arab TV, provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute and Palestinian Media Watch.

Contributors

The following persons were interviewed in the movie: ([3][4])

  • Nonie Darwish – Egyptian-American human rights activist.
  • Alan Dershowitz – American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator.
  • Steven Emerson – American journalist and author.
  • Brigitte Gabriel – Lebanese American journalist, author, and activist.
  • Martin Gilbert – British historian and author.
  • Caroline Glick – American-Israeli journalist.
  • Alfons Heck – was interviewed as a former member of Hitler Youth.
  • Glen Jenvey – British journalist.
  • John Loftus – American author, former US government prosecutor and former Army intelligence officer.
  • Salim Mansur – Indian-Canadian columnist.
  • Itamar Marcus – Israeli political activist, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch,
  • Daniel Pipes – American writer, and political blogger.
  • Tashbih Sayyed – Pakistani-American scholar, journalist, and author.
  • Walid Shoebat – Palestinian immigrant to the United States, interviewed as a former PLO militant.
  • Khaled Abu Toameh – Israeli Arab journalist and documentary filmmaker.
  • Robert Wistrich – professor of European and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Khaleel Mohammed

Khaleel Mohammed, an associate professor of religious studies[5] at San Diego State University and the only Islamic Studies Professor interviewed[6] discussed the meaning of jihad and its misuse by extremists.[7] Mohammed later distanced himself and apologised for his participation claiming he had believed the film would be "used objectively, focusing on (the) fanatics who seek to spread violence" rather than Islam itself.

Production

Wayne Kopping co-wrote, directed, and edited the film.[8] Raphael Shore co-wrote and produced the film.[8] Shore, a Canadian-Israeli film writer, producer, is also founder of The Clarion Fund.[9] Kopping and Shore previously collaborated on Relentless: The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East. Brett Halperin, named as the production manager, is an alias according to Shore.[10][11]

Executive producer Peter Mier, an alias for an unnamed Canadian Jewish businessman, provided about 80 percent of the film's $400,000 budget, according to Raphael Shore.[10][11] According to IRS documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting, financial support for the film came from an organization named Castello Limited.[12]

Promotion and screenings

The film was initially promoted via the internet by HonestReporting and later through campus and Washington, DC screenings and later mass DVD distribution by the Clarion Fund. HonestReporting, a media watch organization run by Ephraim Shore, the twin brother of Obsession producer Raphael Shore, was involved in the initial internet-based promotion of the film.[13] During production in 2005, the media watch group HonestReporting promoted the film as one of its projects.[13] Later when the film was released, HonestReporting promoted the film on its website describing it as an "affiliate" project.[13] The media watch group, in an interview with The Jewish Week, says it was not involved in the film's production.[13]

CNN Headline News has shown segments of the film.[14] Fox News has shown and hosted on its website segments of the film.[15] Seven times in November 2006, Fox News showed a one-hour special incorporating segments from the film.[16]

The documentary has been screened on 30 major campuses including Hofstra, Pace, USC, UCLA, NYU,[14] and McGill.[17][18]

In December 2006, U.S. Representatives Eric Cantor (R-VA), Chief Deputy Majority Whip, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) co-sponsored a screening of the film on Capitol Hill.[citation needed] Cantor's cousin and Wasserman's constituent, Daniel Cantor Wultz, was killed in an attack by an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber.[19]

Distribution

The Clarion Fund has a non-exclusive agreement to distribute Obsession, Relentless and The Third Jihad.[13]

In September 2008, the Clarion Fund, in cooperation with the Endowment for Middle East Truth,[20] distributed 28 million DVDs of the film by mail,[21] and in newspaper advertising supplements, predominantly in swing states.[22]

The film was included in the first issue of the publication "The Judeo-Christian View", which was sent to priests and pastors in churches and synagogues in the United States.[7][23][24]

The DVD was also distributed to all 30,000 members of the Republican Jewish Coalition.[25]

Newspapers distributing the DVD included The New York Times, The Charlotte Observer, The Miami Herald, the Raleigh News & Observer,[26] The Chronicle of Higher Education,[10] and The Oregonian.[27][28] The New York Times distributed approximately 145,000 DVDs in their national edition to Denver, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee.[29] According to a News & Observer blog post, whether the advertisement should be accepted was discussed, but publisher Orage Quarles made the "ultimate decision". The newspaper's vice president of display advertising noted, "Obviously, we have distributed other product samples, whether it's cereal or toothpaste."[30]

Many of the newspapers distributing the DVD also published articles about the film, including The Morning Call[31] of Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Charlotte Observer,[32] The News-Press[33] of Fort Myers, Florida, and The News & Observer[34] of Raleigh, North Carolina. Newspapers that refused to distribute the DVD included the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,[35] the Detroit Free Press, the News & Record of Greensboro, North Carolina, and The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, Ohio.[36][37] News & Record president and publisher Robin Saul said: "It didn't meet our advertising standards. We were told its purpose was educational. We didn't see it as educational at all. It was fear-mongering and divisive."[38][39] The editor John Robinson wrote: "As a journalist, my default position is to provide people with more knowledge, however troubling, rather than less. Were this truly an issue of the freedom of information, I would have argued to publish. But this was a paid advertisement presenting one side of an inflammatory issue."[38]

New Films International acquired the film for international distribution.[40]

Reception

According to the documentary's website, the film was received enthusiastically.[41] Glenn Beck (CNN) described "Obsession" as "one of the most important movies of our lifetime".[42]

Emmett Tyrrell (CNN) wrote that "Obsession," is "one of the most riveting films about the struggle the civilized world faces",[43] while Kyra Phillips encouraged CNN Newsroom viewers to see the movie which according to her "provides an incredible education".[41] Additional endorsements were published on Fox news,[44] on Townhall,[45] In National Review,[46] in Front Page Magazine,[47] in The Times Gazette (OH) [48] and on conservative radio programs such as The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk radio show in the United States.[49]

The films depiction of radical Islam and Islamists, criticized by others as Islamophobic with a political agenda, the large targeted distribution just before the 2008 United States presidential election and the unrevealed funding for the distribution, has stimulated controversy and speculation.[50]

The film has been criticized for "portraying Islam as a threatening religion bent on the destruction of Western civilization, interspersing incendiary commentary with images of Nazis and suicide bombing indoctrination".[51][dead link] The Jewish Telegraphic Agency wrote: "Producers of the documentary insist that it only targets a radical minority among Muslims; however, a number of the interviewees in the documentary are on the record as describing Islam as inherently prone to hegemony."[52]

Rabbi Jack Moline, the Spiritual Leader of the Agudas Achim Congregation, a Conservative synagogue in Alexandria, Virginia, described "Obsession" as "the protocols of the learned elders of Saudi Arabia." Aish HaTorah has been criticized by Rabbi Moline over its close links with The Clarion Fund.[13][53] On the matter of the shared staff between Aish HaTorah and the Clarion Fund, Rabbi Moline was quoted as saying "It is distressing to me that they [Aish HaTorah] would continue to have someone who has promulgated such awful, awful stuff sitting on their board or staff.”[13]

The left-wing group Hate Hurts America,[54] launched a campaign against the film titled "Obsession for Hate," calling it a "classic work of hate propaganda, thinly disguised as a critique of radicalism, that attempts to subliminally demonize Muslims and their faith wholesale."[55][56]

In Dearborn, Michigan, local religious leaders called a free screening of the documentary on September 11, 2008 a divisive publicity stunt.[57] Joe Wierzbicki[55][58] of the King Media Group,[59] Russo Marsh & Rogers,[60][61] and the Our Country Deserves Better PAC,[62][63] said: "There is a problem with an acceptance of radical Islam in Dearborn more so than anywhere else than I know of," according to the Detroit Free Press, quoting Wierzbicki as a spokesman for a California-based public relations company hired to promote the film.[57] Wierzbicki later said Right Reel,[specify] a distributor of conservative films, hired him.[64]

The Associated Press reports that the Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked for the Federal Election Commission to investigate the Clarion Fund's DVD distribution claiming that it was an attempt to influence the 2008 US Presidential Election. As evidence of inappropriate political bias on the part of The Clarion Fund, AP cited Patriot News of Harrisburg, Pa. reporting "that a Clarion Fund Web site ran a pro-McCain article before it attracted notice and was taken down." Ari Morgenstern, a spokesman for Middle East Truth, said targeting swing states was designed to attract media attention, but is not meant to influence the election result. Gregory Ross, spokesman for the New York-based Clarion Fund stated: "We are not telling people who to vote for, we're just saying no matter who gets in office, the American people should know radical Islam is a real threat to America. We don't feel radical Islam is getting its fair share of press."[65]

The Endowment for Middle East Truth withdrew support for promoting the film.[66][dead link]

After a showing on November 13, 2007 at the University of Florida, the Gainesville campus was rocked by controversy over the film. A forum entitled "Radical Islam Wants You Dead" was sponsored by Law School Republicans, prompting Patricia Telles-Irvin, the University's vice president of student affairs, to call for apology for "promoting a negative stereotype".[67] Faculty and community members were split over the situation's inherent free speech issues. In a December 13 opinion editorial, the Tampa Tribune criticized Telles-Irvin's criticism on constitutional grounds and called for Patricia Telles-Irvin's replacement.[67]

Think tank researcher Jennifer Bryson gave the film a mixed review, saying that while it does show how, "Islamist radicalism poses a grave threat to the freedoms of constitutional democracies, the film largely ignores potential solutions and a host of moderate Islamic voices that have gone unheard."[68]

Awards

The movie won awards at the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Liberty Film Festival and the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, a platform for Indie films.

See also

References

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  2. ^ "Terrorism: Looking for context". The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Florida). 2008-09-17. http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/091708/opi_333084896.shtml. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  3. ^ "Interviewees". Obsession the movie. 2008. http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/about_interviews.php. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  4. ^ "The Pundits". Obsession For Hate. Hate Hurts America. 2008. http://www.obsessionforhate.com/thepundits.php. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  5. ^ Mohammed, Khaleel. "Welcome to Prof. Khaleel Mohammed's Web site". San Diego State University. http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~khaleel/. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Khaleel Mohammed, PhD". obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/about_interviews_Mohammed.php. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  7. ^ a b "Swing states targeted with "anti-Muslim propaganda"". Observers (France 24). October 13, 2008. http://observers.france24.com/en/content/20081013-swing-states-anti-muslim-propaganda-28-m-obsession-raphael-shore. Retrieved October 13, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b "The Filmmakers". Obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/about_filmakers.php. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Clarion Fund: National Security Through Education". New York City: Clarion Fund. 2008. http://www.radicalislam.org/content/about-clarion-fund. Retrieved 2008-10-29. 
  10. ^ a b c Shatz, Adam (October 9, 2008). "Short Cuts". London Review of Books. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n19/shtz01_.html. Retrieved October 3, 2008. 
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  12. ^ Kabat, Rebecca (July 23, 2007). "Clarion Fund correspondence with Internal Revenue Service" (pdf). Center for Investigative Reporting. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. http://www.webcitation.org/5bTbWUUoJ. Retrieved October 10, 2008. "The film 'Obsession' was produced by Castello Limited." 
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  23. ^ http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/every-usa-church-synagogue-gets/story.aspx?guid={1A4EE358-1ACF-454F-838B-EB6BCEC260F9}&dist=hppr
  24. ^ http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=9231
  25. ^ http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c37_a13850/News/National.html
  26. ^ Mitchell, Greg; Strupp, Joe (September 13, 2008). "Newspapers Deliver Millions of 'Terror' DVDs to Subscribers – In 'Swing States'". Editor & Publisher (Nielsen Business Media). http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003849746. Retrieved October 29, 2008. 
  27. ^ "'Oregonian' Distributes 'Muslim Terror' DVD – After Mayor Asks It to Refrain". Editor & Publisher. Nielsen Business Media. September 28, 2008. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003855892. Retrieved October 3, 2008. 
  28. ^ Graves, Bill (September 28, 2008). "Critics call DVD insert unfair hit on Islam". The Oregonian (Oregon Live). http://www.webcitation.org/5bPTpzR8o. Retrieved October 6, 2008. "I could find no reason to reject this." 
  29. ^ Gharib, Ali (September 19, 2008). "Anti-Islam Film Targets "Swing State" Voters". Inter Press Service. http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=43940. Retrieved October 12, 2008. "The documentary, despite an initial disclaimer that the material covered applies only to radical Islamists and not all Muslims...." 
  30. ^ "N&O subscribers to receive Islam DVD". Under the Dome. The News & Observer. September 11, 2008. http://projects.newsobserver.com/under_the_dome/n_o_subscribers_to_receive_islam_dvd. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  31. ^ Drobnyk, Josh (September 13, 2008). "Is DVD a wake-up call or propaganda?". The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania). http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_5clarion.6587003sep13,0,1060082.story. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  32. ^ Funk, Tim; St. Onge, Peter (September 13, 2008). "Muslims rap DVD ad in Observer". The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina). http://www.charlotteobserver.com/175/story/190032.html. 
  33. ^ Myers, Rachel (September 14, 2008). "DVD inside The News-Press controversial". The News-Press (Fort Myers, Florida). http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080914/NEWS01/80913033/1075. Retrieved September 14, 2008. [dead link]
  34. ^ Shimron, Yonat (September 13, 2008). "Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide". The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina: The McClatchy Company). http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1217021.html. Retrieved October 14, 2008. [dead link]
  35. ^ Townsend, Tim. "Post-Dispatch refuses to distribute DVD offensive to American Muslims". stltoday.com. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]. http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/civil-religion/politics/2008/09/post-dispatch-refuses-to-distribute-dvd-offensive-to-american-muslims/. Retrieved September 22, 2008. [dead link]
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  37. ^ Jesdanun, Anick (October 4, 2008). "Newspapers get complaints for DVD ad on Muslims". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5h1Rd6z2Qk3Fe45zgkt9gKSEiE46gD93JDKKO0. Retrieved October 7, 2008. "The Detroit Free Press, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also declined to carry the ad." 
  38. ^ a b Robinson, John (September 21, 2009). "Why we didn't distribute "Obsession"". The Editor's Log. Greensboro, North Carolina: Greensboro News & Record. http://blog.news-record.com/staff/jrblog/2008/09/why_we_didnt_di.shtml. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  39. ^ Mitchell, Greg (September 15, 2008). "One Newspaper Refuses to Distribute 'Islam Terror' DVD". Editor & Publisher (Nielsen Business Media). http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003850083. Retrieved October 13, 2008. "The longtime editor, John Robinson, explained his reasoning in a column yesterday." 
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  41. ^ a b "Official website". Obsessionthemovie.com. 2008. http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Glenn Beck - CNN headline News". 2008. http://obsessionthemovie.com/media_CNNglennbeck2.html. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  43. ^ "R. Emmett Tyrrell, CNN.com: Hollywood's blind spot". 2006. http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/03/09/tyrrell.oscars/index.html. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
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  45. ^ "Obsession". Townhall.com. 2006. http://townhall.com/columnists/EmmettTyrrell/2006/03/09/obsession. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  46. ^ "New Censors’ Obsession". 2008. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/225773/new-censors-i-obsession-i/seth-leibsohn. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West". 2006. http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=3351. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  48. ^ "'Obsession' is required viewing". 2008. http://www.timesgazette.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=156942. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  49. ^ "'Obsession' - on radio programs". 2008. http://obsessionthemovie.com/media_press_radio.html. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  50. ^ Feyerick, Deborah; Steffen, Sheila (October 15, 2008). "Muslim DVD rattles voters in key battleground states". American Morning (CNN). http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/14/muslim.dvd/index.html?iref=mpstoryview. Retrieved October 16, 2008. 
  51. ^ Varela, Ileana (September 16, 2008). ""Obsession" DVD Raises Concerns Over Propaganda". WFOR-TV (Miami, Florida: CBS Television Stations). http://cbs4.com/local/obsession.muslim.religion.2.818889.html. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  52. ^ "Islamic council wants probe of 'Obsession'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. September 25, 2008. http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/110533.html. Retrieved October 8, 2008. [dead link]
  53. ^ Rabbi Raphael Shore, the executive directory of The Clarion Fund is a full-time employee of Aish HaTorah. Ephraim Shore "heads Aish’s operations in Israel". Two of the three Clarion Fund directors are Aish employees while the third is a member of the Aish executive committee. Elke Bronstein who signed the mail permit for the DVD bulk mailing works for Aish Discovery, which produces films for Aish HaTorah. Clarions mailing address is the same address as Aish HaTorah International, a fundraising arm of Aish HaTorah.St Petersburgh Times
  54. ^ "Hate Hurts America". 2008. http://www.hatehurtsamerica.org. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  55. ^ a b Overby, Peter (September 26, 2008). "Charity Floods Swing States With Anti-Islam DVD". Morning Edition (National Public Radio). http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95076174. Retrieved October 7, 2008. "Wierzbicki, the movie promoter, also works for two political organizations." 
  56. ^ "About". Obsession For Hate. Hate Hurts America. 2008. http://www.obsessionforhate.com/about.php. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  57. ^ a b Warikoo, Niraj (September 11, 2008). "Critics slam screening of Muslim documentary today". Detroit Free Press (Freep.com). http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080911/NEWS05/809110352. Retrieved October 7, 2008. [dead link]
  58. ^ "Joe Wierzbicki". SourceWatch. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Joe_Wierzbicki. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  59. ^ "Joe Wierzbicki – Director of Public Relations". King Media Group. http://www.kingmediagroup.com/Bios/JoeWierzbicki.asp. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  60. ^ "Principals". Russo Marsh & Rogers. http://www.rmrwest.com/index.php/RMRWest/Principals/principlas.asp#JoeWierzbicki. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  61. ^ "Russo Marsh & Rogers". SourceWatch. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Russo_Marsh_and_Rogers. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  62. ^ "Board Members and Staff". Our Country Deserves Better PAC. http://www.ourcountrydeservesbetter.com/whoweare/index.html. Retrieved October 7, 2008. [dead link]
  63. ^ "Our Country Deserves Better". SourceWatch. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Our_Country_Deserves_Better. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  64. ^ Overby, Peter; Evans, Will (October 7, 2008). "Some Answers On Clarion, And Still Some Questions". The Secret Money Project. National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/blogs/secretmoney/2008/10/clarion_answers_some_questions.html. Retrieved October 10, 2008. "He said he was hired by Right Reel, a distributor of conservative films, but he expressed doubt that Right Reel was the ultimate funder of the screening." 
  65. ^ Gorski, Eric (September 23, 2008). "Muslim group seeks probe of 'radical Islam' DVD". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iEsmhiNuC1Aio2bPql9Iw1z6I3ywD93COGEG1. Retrieved October 7, 2008. 
  66. ^ "Think tank quits 'Obsession Project'". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. October 2, 2008. http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/110615.html. Retrieved October 14, 2008. 
  67. ^ a b "Suppressing Speech On Campus Hurts University's Prestige". The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida). December 13, 2007. http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/dec/13/na-suppressing-speech-on-campus-hurts-universitys-/. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  68. ^ Islam: Obsession Reorientation by Jennifer S. Bryson, November 11, 2008, Public Discourse, The Witherspoon Institute. Summary reads:As the recent film “Obsession” points out, Islamist radicalism poses a grave threat to the freedoms of constitutional democracies. But “Obsession” largely ignores potential solutions and a host of moderate Islamic voices that have gone unheard.

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