Islamophobia, From Screen to Capitol Hill.

Last week saw the preposterous spectacle of members of Congress calling for an investigation of the allegedly seditious activities of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Republicans Sue Myrick, John Shadegg, Paul Broun, and Trent Franks, who accused CAIR of planting interns to work as spies on Capitol Hill, based their charges on the book Muslim Mafia. The book was published by WND Books, the publishing arm of World Net Daily, which solidified its reputation for McCarthy-esque tinfoil hat "journalism" long before Glenn Beck's tears were even a twinkle in Roger Ailes' eye.

Now the Clarion Fund, producer of the film The Third Jihad -- which also peddles the alleged Holy Land and Muslim Brotherhood connections -- is calling for an investigation, too. The Third Jihad charges that Muslim groups like CAIR intend to supplant the Constitution with sharia law, and have links to jihadists.

CAIR and numerous other Muslim organizations were identified as unindicted co-conspirators in a case the United States brought against the Holy Land Foundation, which earlier this year was found guilty of illegally financing Hamas. In 2008, the government introduced a document as an exhibit to a brief -- contrary to Department of Justice policy -- publicly identifying these alleged "unindicted co-conspirators." The policy is not to publicly identify unindicted co-conspirators because it contravenes constitutional protections guaranteeing the accused the right to defend itself in court.

The Clarion Fund, which has ties to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group Aish Hatorah, promotes its films to neoconservative and Christian-right audiences, who no doubt hear a familiar ring to the charges of Myrick et al. But despite its efforts to make these charges seem like a "moderate" view, they are far outside the mainstream. When I wrote about the Clarion Fund and its films last year, Paul Barrett, an editor at Business Week and author of American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, told me, "Saying that organizations like CAIR and ISNA aim to institute Islamic religious law in the United States is similar to saying that Jewish or Catholic religious organizations aim to institute rabbinic or church law in the U.S. The notion that they are threat to the republic, a fifth column, is both laughable and very pernicious.”

--Sarah Posner

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