WORLD ISLAMIC ASSOCIATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Vol. I, No. VII , Seventh Issue, June 2000
q CONTENTS / SOMMAIRE
q MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARIAT
q LETTER TO US SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT IN RESPONSE TO NEW REPORT, "PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM, 1999" / by Ali Abunimah
q THE TRUTH ABOUT TERRORISM / by Ali Abunimah
q JOIN ARAB AMERICANS AND MUSLIMS TO PROTEST RACIST FILM "RULES OF ENGAGEMENT"
q SUMMARY / RESUMES
q MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARIAT
The film Rules of Engagement portrayed Arab Muslims as blood-thirsty-terrorists.
As this is not enough, and adding injury to insult the state department has published a new report entitled “Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1999”which identifies Islamic elements as the greatest terrorist threat in the world today (May 5, 2000).
The film combined by the report vilify and demonize, whatever, or whoever are Arab and Muslim.
This demonization will no doubt reflect negatively on the Mental Health of Arab and Muslims.
Therefore we have devoted the whole WIAMH Newsletter No 7 to this important issue.
In this issue we have analyzed the mental health implications of this demonization. What can we, as mental health providers, who are dedicated to the betterment of the Islamic population on this earth, do in light of this continued and relentless demonization of the Muslin population?
We have also responded to the U.S. Department of State Terrorism Report. Dr. Ali Abunimah has shown that the main conclusions of this report are not supported by the data it provides. You will find Dr. Ali Abunimah’s response to US Department of State Terrorism Report at the end of this Newsletter.
§ RULES OF ENGAGEMENT: A CASE STUDY OF ARAB-MUSLIM’S DEMONIZATION:
Once again Arab-Muslims are being demonized by Hollywood. This time the film is Rules of Engagement, a box-office hit starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel Jackson. Last weekend it took $ 8 million at movie theatres, meaning that, it has already grossed $ 43 million in 17 days.
The film portrays Arab-Muslims as bloodthirsty terrorists. The American-Arab anti-discrimination committee (ADC) has called for protests against the film, which it describes as “Probably the most vicious anti-Arab racist film ever made by a major Hollywood major studio”. Paramount Pictures produced this film.
And the plot of this film which stigmatized Arab-Muslim; A large crowd of demonstrators surrounds The American embassy in Yemen. Marine colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L. Jackson) is sent to evacuate the ambassador and his family. Childers launches his mission, the ambassadors safety is secured, but three of his men are shot.
The colonel orders his men to fire at the crowd, Eighty-three Yemenis, including women and children, are massacred by Marines – a realistic – looking scene that has evoked cheers from some American audience.
A diplomatic crisis erupts and colonel Childers faces a court-martial for violating the rules of engagement by killing unarmed civilians. During his court-martial proceedings, colonel Childers, with the support of his lawyer; his former Vietnam comrade Hays Hodges (Tommy Lee Jones), contends the protestors, even the women and children, were armed.
Also, there was “a declaration of Islamic Jihad against the United States” and a call to kill American. Colonel Childers’s act was, therefore, not only justifiable, but patriotic too.
Jack Shaheen author of the TV Arab, an upcoming book about the image of Arab-Muslims propagated by Hollywood, said that “this film is the worst ever”.
He added that it is not only immoral but dangerous too, “The message it conveys, he argues, is simple” “It is correct to kill Arabs, even children”.
In the US film industry, he believes, “It is perfectly acceptable to vilify, to demonize, whatever, or whoever is Arab and Muslim”.
WIAMH is a world organization, which is basically concerned with the mental health of the Muslims.
We see that this misrepresentation of the Arab-Muslims by popular media as a very dangerous process. It is believed that this social ostracism and stigmatization will lead to “cumulative trauma” among Muslims.
(See a section written by Fred Brauer in which he elaborated on the psychosocial effects of demonization and vilification of Arab-Muslims by Hollywood, and which is attached).
We urge WIAMH’ members to discuss further the mental health consequences of this process of distortion in their E-mails to WIAMH’s Secretariat.
More than that, we need to spend more efforts to eliminate ignorance about Islam.
William Rugh, former American ambassador to Yemen said about Rules of Engagement that it is another “Hollywood film and it is not fair”. “It is a biased film that reinforces prejudice against the Arabs”. He sees the films “misrepresentation” of Yemen as a product of ignorance. And the majority of Arabs would agree with his assertion that far greater efforts are needed from us to rectify such distorted perceptions.
World Islamic Association of Mental Health should cooperate and coordinate with other world organizations to promote greater understating of the Middle East.
In an effort to do this we have attached a “Letter to US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright In Response To New Report, “Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1999” by Ali Abunimah. It shows that the only one region where the largest number of anti US attacks is occurring is Latin America and not the Middle East.
Finally, WIAMH’ members are kindly requested to do their humble share in the discussion of this serious mental health problem which is created by Hollywood through misrepresentation of Arab-Muslims in its fictional presentations.
During the peace process, after all, tolerance, understanding and sensitivity towards the concerns of others have been consistently demanded of the Arabs. Such sensitivity has yet to be reciprocated.
§ MENTAL HEALTH IMPLICATIONS OF THE DEMONIZATION OF MUSILMS BY HOLLYWOOD; FRED BRAUER:
The world of psychiatry and psychology is often dedicated to assessing pathologies that are observed already existing in patients, groups, organizations or entire societies. The reasons behind this “postmortem” approach are many and varied and not necessary to elaborate on here, but it has become so much our primary lens that we spend much of our professional time patching up the wounded after they fall or quickly providing emergency medication and coping tools after they have lost the battle. We have, for example, proudly identified post traumatic Stress Disorder, complete with multiple approaches and interventions designed to mitigate the outward behaviors and overt symptomatology as well as numerous psychosomatic manifestations born out of the individual’s attempt to cope with the trauma after it has taken its toll.
But, what if we could begin, even generally, to inoculate individuals, groups, or large portions of populations to potential traumas/stressors that threaten to become the very events that will create PTSD in countless persons? e.g. helping instruct people living in known earthquake zones with better preparation and systems to cope immediately after an event, or those likely to be caught-up in armed conflict, as in the case of parts of the former Yugoslavia that were engulfed in war only after the initial outbreak of hostilities.
To place Dr. Masoud Khan’s concept of “cumulative trauma” into a social context, we can look at the identification of specific groups as the beginning of a process, followed by their stigmatization as “good” or “bad,” that can lead to serious consequences. With this message continually spread through mass media, members of the target group are unsure of how to react to such classification, especially if it results in trauma producing outcomes.
More specifically, today there is adequate data to support the U.S. and European focus on Islam as a “potential” threat to world peace. The West’s inability or blatant unwillingness to differentiate between what governments and the press call “terrorists,” “militants” or “radical movements” and general populations creates an image of any Muslim country as “the enemy” (of the West). The consequences have so far ranged from the systematic harassment of persons “looking” Middle Eastern in Western countries, to the characterization of the leader of one Middle Eastern country as Hitler-the devil incarnate to the Western mind, and has allowed the people of that country to be continually traumatized through harsh sanctions for nearly 10 years, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of children annually and continuing to this day.
An over-reaction? Perhaps. At least one other religious group would not necessarily agree. After the trauma of an event like the holocaust in Europe, the Jews have built an industry on “never again,” – a posttraumatic reaction. The fundamental reason still given for the “need” to maintain the state of Israel as a Jewish state is “that it can happen again”. The “it” is the selling point. They have successfully convinced an entire population of this possibility. It has provided them the impetuous to commandeer land, backed by arrogance, strong allies and military bravado, thereby “inoculating” the group from a similar trauma being visited upon them again.
While this particular case in point is extreme and is likely the cause of other pathologies visited on such a fortified population, it is nonetheless instructive of how a group can be better prepared to avert draconian measures that can be applied to it with the stroke of a pen, if not the sword. We need only look to how “Muslim terrorists” were first identified in the U.S. press as the likely perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, leading to the arrest and detention of a Jordanian born American citizen and suspicion cast on anyone looking “Middle Eastern”. The TWA flight 800 explosion marked the immediate passage of laws allowing the profiling of persons of certain generalized descriptions at airports and other public places without regard to protections provided by the U.S. constitution. The list goes on … The Terrorism Report of the U.S. department of Sate released 5 May 2000 identifies Islamic elements as the greatest terrorist threats in the world today.
What can we, as mental health providers who are dedicated to the betterment of the Islamic population on this earth do in light of this continued and relentless demonization of this population? The paranoia often accompanying the portrayal of Muslims in the West seems comparable to the mentality of the Crusades. The West continues to identify Muslims as the “other”. It has openly announced Islam as the next potential “evil foe” after the fall of the Soviet Union. What impact does this have on individuals and on the entire body of the religious community? How can we learn from groups in history that have been identified in such ways, their methods of dealing with that identification, and what results such methods created? Are there general coping mechanisms that can be developed? Are there ways of responding to such stereotyping that would be more effective than scurrying to free detained “profiled” individual after his arrest, or counting the bodies after the wanton bombing of a city based on the same profiling with little or no supporting evidence? Can we begin to look at these issues through the lens of our scientific profession dedicated to the understanding of human behavior?
These are merely ideas that need more development. There are obviously many valid directions this topic area could take. www.abunimah.org
q LETTER TO US SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT IN RESPONSE TO NEW REPORT, "PATTERNS OF GLOBAL TERRORISM, 1999" / by Ali Abunimah
by Ali Abunimah
From: Ali Abunimah
May 2, 2000
Dear Secretary Albright,
I read with interest the State Department's latest report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999," published on May 1. I would like to thank you for this report, and assure you of my full support for all genuine efforts to combat terrorism, and to bring those who deliberately harm innocent people for political gain to justice. To the extent that you actually do this, you can be certain of my full and unequivocal backing.
Allow me, however to make a few comments about your report, publication of which was widely reported in the media.
1) The main conclusions of your report are not supported by the data you provide
The introduction to the report and the conclusion most widely covered, states that, "The primary terrorist threats to the United States emanate from two regions, South Asia and the Middle East. Supported by state sponsors, terrorists live in and operate out of areas in these regions with impunity. They find refuge and support in countries that are sympathetic to their use of violence for political gain, derive mutual benefit from harboring terrorists, or simply are weakly governed."
Yet, the statistics and narrative you provide about anti-US attacks, and "terrorist" activities in and from these regions tell a different story.
Of the 169 anti-US attacks reported for 1999, Latin America accounted for 96, Western Europe for 30, Eurasia for 9, and Africa 16. The Middle East accounted for only 11, and Asia for 6. Most of these attacks were bombings. The figures you provide for the total number of terrorist attacks by region indicate that in recent years, Latin America and Europe have each accounted for a greater number of terrorist attacks than either the Middle East or Asia. 1999 is consistent with this pattern.
The chapter on the Middle East does not provide any insight into why your report headlines that region as presenting one of the two major threats to the United States today. On the contrary, it details widespread and "vigorous" "counter-terrorism" efforts by Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Although you continue to list Syria, Iran, Iraq and Libya as "state sponsors" of terrorism, the report does not detail any activity by these states that would support the conclusion that the Middle East region represents one of the two main threats to the United States.
To the extent you allege that "terrorist" activity persists in the Middle East, this is principally directed not at the United States, but at Israel, a country that is illegally occupying the territory of several others. You also categorize resistance against combatant Israeli occupation forces in Lebanon as terrorism, [this activity is cited in the section on Lebanon, and the section on Iran accuses that country of encouraging HizbAllah and other groups "to use violence, especially terrorist attacks, in Israel to undermine the peace process"].
The definition of HizbAllah's activities as "terrorist" is at odds with the internationally recognized right to resist foreign occupation, but it could possibly be justified if you were at least applying a consistent standard. Yet, while you term HizbAllah a "terrorist" organization, you do not use this designation for the Israeli-controlled "South Lebanon Army," a sub-state group that frequently carries out attacks on Lebanese civilians, seizes and tortures noncombatant hostages, and threatens and uses other forms of violence and coercion against Lebanese civilians.
The continued designation of certain countries as "state sponsors" of terrorism appears to be politically motivated. Your report states, for example, "A Middle East peace agreement necessarily would address terrorist issues and would lead to Syria being considered for removal from the list of state sponsors." This may suggest to seasoned observers that Syria's continued designation as a "state sponsor of terrorism" is simply a stick to get Syria to sign an agreement with Israel consonant with US preferences, rather than a designation arising from an objective analysis of that state's policies. This view may be supported by the fact that you do not allege any activities being planned from Syria, and you say that Syria "continued to restrain" groups operating in Damascus from any but political activities.
The section on Iran claims that that country was "the most active state sponsor of terrorism" in 1999. Yet almost all the alleged activities were directed not at the United States, but were assistance to groups fighting the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Iran's other alleged principal activity was assistance to the PKK, the group fighting Turkey's repressive policies against Kurds. Again, none of the reported activities appear to directly threaten the United States.
None of the other sections on Middle East countries list any activities by states or groups that would seem to justify the assertion that the Middle East represents a major threat of terrorism to the United States. Certainly this assertion is not borne out by the actual data on terrorist attacks and casualties, which consistent with recent years, shows the Middle East accounting for a relatively tiny number of "anti-US attacks," and US casualties.
As for the assertion that the "locus of terrorism" has shifted from the Middle East to South Asia, and particularly Afghanistan, your entire case seems to rest on assertions that Usama Bin Ladin is operating a vast, international terrorism network. It is difficult for observers to evaluate these claims, because you do not publish any substantial evidence or sources, merely assertions. We do know that in cases where the US government has made specific claims, these have often turned out to be exaggerated or false. Investigative reporting by The New York Times and others, of which you are surely aware, severely and compellingly questioned the factual basis, and process of President Clinton's decision to bomb the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan in August 1998. I also note that the United States government chose not to contest a lawsuit brought against it by the owner of that factory who sought to recover control of his assets, frozen by the United States on the grounds that he was linked with Mr. Bin Ladin. Hence, in the absence of any compelling evidence to the contrary, the US government's past record with regard to claims about Mr. Bin Ladin suggests that a responsible observer should at the very least be deeply skeptical. Some observers have suggested that the threat from Mr. Bin Laden has been deliberately exaggerated to justify limits on civil liberties in the United States, and an expanded US role in the Middle East.
Again, as in the case of the Middle East, the principal events in South Asia, such as the hijacking of an Indian airliner and bombings in India and Pakistan which claimed many lives, were unrelated to the United States, and seemed to be related to local or regional conflicts such as that in Kashmir or Sri Lanka.
In conclusion, it appears from the data in your report, that the only region where a large number of anti-US attacks is occurring or originating is Latin America, and particularly Colombia. Yet, this country is not designated as a major threat to the United States. The reasoning for this is absent.
2) The report makes disturbing assertions that may fuel anti-Muslim prejudice in the United States and around the world
The report assures the reader that, "Adverse mention in this report of individual members of any political, social, ethnic, religious, or national group is not meant to imply that all members of that group are terrorists. Indeed, terrorists represent a small minority of dedicated, often fanatical, individuals in most such groups. It is those small groups--and their actions--that are the subject of this report."
Yet it appears to do quite the opposite. For example it states:
"Islamist extremists from around the world--including North America; Europe; Africa; the Middle East; and Central, South, and Southeast Asia--continued to use Afghanistan as a training ground and base of operations for their worldwide terrorist activities in 1999. The Taliban, which controlled most Afghan territory, permitted the operation of training and indoctrination facilities for non-Afghans and provided logistic support to members of various terrorist organizations and mujahidin, including those waging jihads in Chechnya, Lebanon, Kosovo, Kashmir, and elsewhere."
This paragraph appears to cast any Muslim person fighting any battle, for any reason as an "Islamic extremist." It also uses the Arabic words "jihad," and "mujahidin," which have very specific definitions, to be synonyms for terrorism. Is it not possible to imagine that a Muslim in Kosovo, or Chechnya could be engaged in a legitimate battle? [I certainly think the United States would have thought so when it provided substantial state sponsorship to groups in Afghanistan and when it designated such people as "freedom fighters," using them to fight against Soviet intervention. Unfortunately the report is silent about US state sponsorship of these groups, so again it is difficult to evaluate how much of the presently observed phenomena are a direct result of United States activities in South Asia over the past two decades. Certainly an objective analysis would have to take this into account.]
Careless references to Islam, "jihad" and "terrorism" are unfortunate and damaging. This report comes in the context of US officials late in 1999 openly linking the Muslim feast of Ramadan with an increased threat of "terrorism" around the world. The threat did not materialize, but the hysteria generated by the government warnings was particularly damaging to Arab Americans and Muslims in the United States who already face enormous obstacles due to stereotyping and misrepresentation in popular media. The panic and media sensation created by the arrest of an Algerian man at the United States-Canada border, allegedly for carrying explosives, reportedly caused an increase of harassment of Arab Americans and Muslims by airlines and others, and allegations by law enforcement officials, later retracted, that other Arabs arrested at the border for visa violations were terrorist suspects.
3) The definition of "terrorism"
The report states:
"The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience."
This definition may be overly narrow, since it defines "terrorism" principally on the basis of the identity of its perpetrator rather than by the action and motive of the perpetrator. Hence, if Israel launches a massive attack on Lebanon and deliberately drives several hundred thousand people from their homes, openly threatens and targets civilians, and states that all of this is intended to pressure the Lebanese or Syrian government, as Israel did in April 1996, it does not fall under the definition of terrorism, solely because you recognize Israel to be a state.
If, by contrast, Lebanese people organize themselves to resist an internationally condemned foreign occupation of their soil, you term this "terrorism," even when such people restrict their targets to enemy combatants in occupied territory.
May I suggest that you broaden your definition of terrorism to include state terrorism? While terrorism as you define it is certainly disturbing, compared with the number of victims of state terrorism, it is a relatively minor concern. If you included statistics for state terrorism, observers could then objectively evaluate, for example, PKK activities on the one hand against premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatants carried out by the Turkish government. Or we could put into perspective a "jihad" by "Islamic extremists" in Chechnya against premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatants by the Russian army.
This would provide the public with a fuller picture of the problem, and analysts and policymakers with better information to make policy recommendations which could end the political conflicts, injustices, and occupations which in nearly every case seem to generate the phenomenon known as "terrorism."
I thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
q THE TRUTH ABOUT TERRORISM / by Ali Abunimah
by Ali Abunimah (email@example.com)
December 22, 1999
Are the recent warnings about the threat of terrorism a reasonable precaution by the government to a real and present danger, or are the media and government once again promoting anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hysteria under the guise of vigilance against terrorism? Whatever the case, the arrest of an Algerian man last week, allegedly for trying to enter the United States from Canada with bomb-making materials, has set off yet another free for all of media speculation about vicious Muslim plots to blow up the United States on the eve of the millennium.
To many people this hysteria appears to be nothing more than a reasonable response to a frightening possibility. But if we examine the US government's own data about terrorism, it is a completely unjustified overreaction which puts at risk all of our civil liberties and freedoms, but especially those of Arab and Muslim Americans who are, despite all the lessons of Oklahoma City, TWA 800 and other incidents, still the first to fall under suspicion and to be victimized by repressive measures such as the use of secret evidence and passenger profiling.
So, is all the focus on the threat of "Islamic" terrorism justified and based in fact?
To put the issue in perspective, I examined the State Department's own annual report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1998."
Below I have summarized some facts from the report about events, which the State Department defines as international terrorist incidents (in other words excluding domestic terrorism by purely US-based groups, such as anti-abortion groups). The report uses the following definitions:
"The term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience. The term "international terrorism" means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than one country. The term "terrorist group" means any group practicing, or that has significant subgroups that practice, international terrorism."
1) TERRORISM WORLDWIDE IS DECREASING SIGNIFICANTLY AND CONSISTENTLY
There has been a significant and consistent downward trend in international terrorist incidents in the period 1979-1998.
In 1998, the number of international terrorist incidents, at 273, was the lowest ever in the period, and the annual number has shown a consistent downward trend since it reached a peak of 666 in 1987.
2) THE VAST MAJORITY OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST INCIDENTS ARE NOT RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST, MUSLIM "EXTREMISTS" OR ARABS
Since 1995, Latin America has consistently had the highest annual number of international terrorist incidents of any region, followed by Western Europe. In 1998 there were 110 attacks in Latin America, 48 in Western Europe and 31 in the Middle East. There were 21 in Africa and zero in North America.
The incidents in Latin America are primarily connected to conflicts in Colombia and Peru, while the vast majority of incidents in Europe are, according to the State Department, attributable to Basque separatists in Spain, the conflict in Northern Ireland, the Kurdish movement in Turkey and various anarchist groups in Greece. Middle East or "Islamic" terrorism was not a significant factor in either region.
In terms of casualties (deaths+injuries), the highest number have consistently been in Asia since 1993. In 1998 there were over 5,000 in Africa, 635 in Asia, 405 in Western Europe, 68 in the Middle East and zero in North America.
3) EIGHTY PERCENT OF ATTACKS AGAINST UNITED STATES TARGETS ARE IN LATIN AMERICA
Consistently, the vast majority of events defined by the State Department as "anti-US attacks" occur in Latin America. In 1998, there was a total of 111 anti-US attacks. Eighty-seven were in Latin America, 13 in Western Europe, 5 in the Middle East and 3 each in Africa and Eurasia.
By far the most common targets of terrorists are businesses. Attacks on diplomats, military or government installations are relatively rare.
The total number of US fatalities from these attacks in 1998 was 12, all related to the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
4) VERY FEW AMERICANS ARE KILLED BY TERRORISTS
Here are the numbers for the total U.S. Citizen Casualties Caused by International Attacks, 1993-98. Note that the figures show no upward trend
(The 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania caused a large number of non-US casualties in addition to the US victims).
These numbers suggest that terrorism is a relatively insignificant cause of death and injury to Americans compared with other forms of violence. For example, according to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, 14 children are killed EVERY DAY in the United States by handguns. In the State of Illinois alone, 320 are killed each year (National Center for Health Statistics, 1997).
5) MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE IS RELATED TO LOCAL POLITICAL CONFLICTS, NOT "HATRED OF THE WEST"
Although the level of international terrorist events in the Middle East has been lower than in other parts of the world, such violence as occurs is principally related to local political conflicts, not to generalized "hatred of the West" as often portrayed in the media. The numbers and descriptions of patterns of violence in the Middle East suggest that as in other regions like Northern Ireland, violence diminishes when broad-based political processes or solutions are set in motion. The State Department report acknowledges that the downward trend in terrorism "reflects the improved political climate that has diminished terrorist activity in recent years in various parts of the world."
There is a complete disparity between the facts about international terrorism as presented by the government on the one hand, and the media, official and popular response to the issue on the other. There is no objective connection between the frequency of terrorist attacks originating from and occurring in the Middle East, and the amount of attention that such attacks receive. President Clinton and other government officials have repeatedly defined terrorism as one of the greatest threats facing the world.
There is little or no media attention to the facts about terrorism, as reported by the government, and a generalized willingness to continue to blame and speculate about the Middle East as a principal purveyor of violence. This situation continues to hurt and marginalize Arab and Muslim citizens of the United States, and to distort public perceptions about the Middle East, a region in which US taxpayers are being asked to invest a lot of money, often in the name of "security."
Each and every life lost due to terrorism is one too many, and of course there must be vigilance against terrorism, and support for genuine efforts to prevent it. But clearly other policy agendas, totally unrelated to public security, are being served by the obsessive focus on Middle East terrorism, when the facts suggest a more balanced approach would be appropriate.
q JOIN ARAB AMERICANS AND MUSLIMS TO PROTEST RACIST FILM "RULES OF ENGAGEMENT"
NO PROFITS FROM RACISM!!
WHEN: Saturday April 15, 6.00 PM
WHERE: Entrance of Cineplex Odeon, 600 N. Michigan Avenue, CHICAGO (entrance is on corner of Ohio and Rush Streets, one block west of Michigan Ave.)
WHY: "Rules of Engagement," a major Hollywood film, contains the most racist portrayal of Arabs and Muslims of any film in years. The film depicts US soldiers massacring Yemeni men, women and children, who are presented as a hateful, anti-American mob. According to the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the movie features:
"Repeated portrayals of Arab children as hateful, vicious and murderous. These children are shown several times shooting guns at the film's US Marine protagonists and shouting curses."
"The portrayal of Yemeni society as an anti-American mob just waiting to erupt at any second. The images of Arabs in the film are solely stereotypical--veiled women, men in headscarves and all shouting fanatical, angry slogans and firing automatic weapons at a peaceful US embassy."
The New York Press writes: "the continuing scandal of Hollywood's Arab-bashing smells to high heaven, but this film manages to stun nonetheless." (4/12/2000)
The movie stars big-name actors Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Ben Kingsley (who played Gandhi!). It is directed by William Friedkin and is released by Viacom subsidiary Paramount. It was the highest grossing movie last weekend.
We protest this film because it dehumanizes Arabs and Muslims at a time when they are being victimized, and glorifies US militarism. According to UNICEF, 200 Iraqi children die every day because of US-backed UN sanctions. Last week fourteen Iraqis were killed and many others injured, including a number of children in a US air attack on that country. This film harms Arab American and Muslim children in this country, who already struggle with prejudice and stereotyping on an enormous scale.
In 1998, Arab Americans protested "The Siege," which portrayed Arab Americans as an undifferentiated mass of terrorists. Hollywood has to get the message that it cannot continue to make money off racism!
IF YOU CAN ATTEND: Please bring a friend, family member or neighbor and make a poster board sign or banner opposing Paramount's racist portrayals.
IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND: Email Jennifer Bing-Canar (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a flyer which you can print out and distribute at your local cinema where this film is being shown.
IF YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO CO-SPONSOR THIS PROTEST, EMAIL Ali Abunimah at email@example.com
CO-SPONSORED BY (group in formation): Arab American Action Network, American Friends Service Committee, American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee--Chicago Chapter, The Arab Union at the University of Chicago, Chicagoland Arab Professionals and Students (CAPS), Eighth Day Center for Justice, Islamic Association for Palestine, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Tiny Leaps Productions, Voices in the Wilderness