Panel Claims 9/11 Memorial Film Portrays 'All Muslims' as 'Jihadists'

Panel Claims 9/11 Memorial Film Portrays 'All Muslims' as 'Jihadists'

An interfaith panel is protesting a short film made for New York’s 9/11 Memorial. The film explains to visitors the historical roots of the vicious attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, but some are upset that the film portrays al-Qaeda as “Islamist extremists” and “jihadists.”

The seven-minute film narrated by NBC News anchor Brian Williams contains images of the World Trade Center and footage of the attacks that horrible day. It also shows al-Qaeda training camps and gives a quick overview of terror attacks throughout recent decades.

But after being given an early look at the film, an interfaith panel has criticized it, saying it uses terms that cast aspersions on “all Muslims.”

The New York Times reports that Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan, wrote a letter to the museum’s director objecting to the film.

Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy wrote:

The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum. Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between al-Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.

Akbar Ahmed, the chairman of the Islamic studies department at American University in Washington, agreed with the criticism. He stated that using the words “jihadist” and “Islamist” when describing Muslims is unfair.

Ahmed said:

The terrorists need to be condemned and remembered for what they did. But when you associate their religion with what they did, then you are automatically including, by association, one and a half billion people who had nothing to do with these actions and who ultimately the U.S. would not want to unnecessarily alienate.

Terrorism critic Pamela Geller, however, feels that this criticism is absurd. “We don’t associate their religion with what they did; the jihadists associate their religion with what they did,” Geller noted.

“The last letters left by the 19 Muslim terrorists [who perpetrated the terror attacks on 9/11] said that the attack was in the cause of Islam, and cited Allah 90 times,” she added.

The interfaith panel praised the museum for including photos of Muslims around the world mourning the attacks on 9/11, and was also happy that comments made by Representative Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat and the first Muslim elected to Congress, were included.

However, no photos or videos of the millions of Muslims who launched jubilant celebrations in support of the terror attacks will be shown at the memorial.

Despite the criticism, museum officials are not planning on altering the film; the officials said the film was vetted by numerous scholars of Islam and terrorism and received positive feedback from all.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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