Students speak out against radicalism

Radical Islam wants you dead.

That’s the message some students took away from Sunday night’s screening of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

The film, sponsored by the Young Israel Jewish Student Center (YJISC), framed jihad and radical Islam as a global movement whose ultimate goal is the ‘Islamification’ of the entire planet. The screening didn’t come without controversy, either, as audience members were embroiled in debate after it ended.

While Obsession featured familiar clips of jihadi propaganda, the film included an uncommon array of individuals with a unique perspective of radical Islam.

Walid Shoebat, a former member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Nonie Darwish, the daughter of an Egyptian jihadist who was killed in 1956, spoke out against radical Islam in the film, condemning it as hypocrisy and heresy.

According to the movies’ clips of Middle Eastern clerics, the West – primarily the U.S., Israel and the United Kingdom – is to blame for many of the problems Muslims around the world face, such as poverty, hunger, unemployment and lack of education.

“What we accuse (the Jews) of doing, we are carrying out literally,” Shoebat said.

People interviewed in the films attributed radical Islam’s tactics of indoctrination to the propaganda used by Nazis during World War II.

Obsession featured a number of scenes, aired on Arab television stations, featuring children as young as four years old proclaiming their hatred of America and their willingness to kill for their religion. Coupled with images of the Hitler Youth from the 1940’s, the parallel served as a warning of what may come if radical Islam is appeased the same way Nazi Germany was, according to the film.

Although the film showed many strikingly similar hate cartoons from radical Muslims and Nazis, Shoebat described radical Islam as infinitely more dangerous than Hitler’s Germany.

“They portray Jews in the same ways as Nazi Germany. Islamification is more dangerous because it has religion behind it,” he said.

The ultimate goal of the film, however, was to educate the audience about the global threat of religious radicalism, according to sponsors. During the final scenes, Obsession called for all moderate Muslims who oppose terrorism to stand up against those who have “hijacked the religion.”

Although the parallel between Nazism and radical Islam is something that hasn’t been mentioned much before Obsession, much of the propaganda shown has been spewed in abundance across Western television since Sept. 11.

The film did, however, spark a heated debate between members of the audience.

Shoaib Khan, 25, is a Muslim graduate student studying mathematics at USF. Khan, the only Muslim student in the audience, spoke out against the way Obsession was similar to much of the anti-American propaganda he has seen in the Middle East.

“It falls victim to its own verdict,” Khan said. “It’s equivalent. It’s just a mirror image of what happens there (the Middle East) to create fear.”

Khan, who is from Lahore, Pakistan, has been in the United States just under a year pursuing his master’s degree.

“I came here because I wanted to learn more about American culture so that when I go back to Pakistan, I can tell them they are wrong,” he said.

The president of the YIJSC, Nachman Susson, said the film is being used as a springboard to form a group opposing religious-based radicalism at USF. Susson speculated the group will be called Terror-Free America and will open to everybody.

“I’m hoping for just as many Muslims as non-Muslims,” Susson said.

Susson said the group will serve as an open forum for all members of the USF community.

“There won’t be any political or religious agenda. That’s what we’re trying to stop,” he said.

Terror-Free America will formally begin in the fall and hopes to gather enough members to receive funding from Student Government.

YIJSC will host another screening of Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West on April 13 at 7 p.m. in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom.