Republican Rep. Allen West is catching heat for hosting what some critics are calling an "anti-mosque" and anti-Islam event. While some may view a Wednesday film screening and talk hosted by the congressman as an appropriate attempt to remember the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001, others believe the commemorative effort was both inappropriate and unwarranted.
The screening is particularly controversial because the film, produced by Christian Action Network and entitled, "Sacrified Survivors," focuses upon the contentious so-called Ground Zero mosque that has created intense debate across America. According to Politico, the film prominently features 9/11 victims' family members and their opposition to the planned house of worship and community center. Adding to the controversy, West invited some of these families to attend the event.
In a press release on Tuesday, West's office described the film -- and the event -- as follows:
As plans for a mosque move forward at Ground Zero, just steps away from the twin towers site, 9/11 survivors and family members are experiencing yet another type of Islamic jihad. PRB Films tells their poignant and shocking stories in this new film, "SACRIFICED SURVIVORS: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega Mosque."
Survivors fear after this week, the country will again become complacent and 9/11 will become a distant memory. They believe they must work to keep people vigilant and fighting against the march of radical Islam through attempts like the Ground Zero mosque. As retired New York City firefighter Tim Brown says, "If this mosque is built, it will be like 9/11 all over again for the families who lost loved ones."
Here's the disputatious film's trailer:
One of the attending family members, Jack McDermot, who lost a son on 9/11, stood his ground in opposing the construction of the community center and mosque:
"I think it’s a tragedy that people are attempting to do something which is very distasteful to me, and I will support anyone or anything that’s done to put a stop to it."
In addressing the crowd, West explained what may very well be his reasoning for hosting the event in the first place:
“my fear is that maybe we could end up forgetting what happened on 9/11 because of certain things such as political correctness or this desire to be a multicultural America. But in being a multicultural America we must never forget the fundamental principles and value that make us great.”
He continued, discussing his views about faith and religion. In a pointed notation, he explained his belief that Islam must go through the "reform process" just as other world religions have been forced to do:
“I think we have to understand that the major religions of this world—Judaism and Christianity—did go through reformations. Now we look at this next major religion...they need to go through a reform process as well.”
Of course, this comment will be looked at by some as an effort to tie together the radical actions of a small subset of Islamic adherents with the wider pool of believers.
Below, watch these comments, among others, in a video captured by TPM:
But for those claiming that West is trying to legally restrict individuals from the right to build at Ground Zero, it's important to note that he drew a distinction between what's legal and what is, in his view, morally acceptable:
“Nobody is saying you cannot build a mosque in New York City. That’s not the question. The question is will you honor and hold in reverence what we just heard today? This is a sacred site for some people, this is a site that really is a burial ground. Do we really want this to happen? It’s not about the constitution, it’s about what’s morally right.”
In an article posted on Wednesday, Death and Taxes' Andrew Belonsky wrote, "Representative Allen West has quite the record of inflammatory rhetoric." In the title of the piece, Belonsky essentially calls West "anti-Islam." ThinkProgress shared these views, writing:
There’s room for a healthy debate about how to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on the United States, but Sacrificed Survivors, with its distorted version of events and bigoted attacks on Islam, poisons that debate rather than contributing to it. The only thing it proves is how marginal Rep. West’s views — and sense of what constitute a dignified, respectful, and productive conversation about religion and national security — continue to be.
What do you think? Does this event and the statements made within it indicate that West is anti-Islam? Take our poll: