The 9/11 Museum may have removed the cheese plate from the gift shop, but it has so far refused to amend its mostly one-sided portrayal of Islam as incubator for terrorism. Months ago, members of the museum's own interfaith panel said they felt uncomfortable with "The Rise Of Al Qaeda," the seven-minute video played to visitors. Now guests from all over the world tell the Times that the image of Islam projected by the 9/11 Museum is largely negative.
From the Times:
“I think they should have talked about Islam more, just so people understand that there is a difference between Islam and people who do terrorist attacks but who also happen to be Islamic,” said Adrian Cabreros, 22, visiting with his mother from San Francisco. “They just sort of said that the people from Al Qaeda wanted to have a more Islamic state, but it was hard to distinguish, to separate Islam itself. It kind of gives Islam a bad vibe.”
Ron Speedbey, 68, a retired New York City police officer from Queens, and his friend Ben Schwecke, 67, a disabled veteran, had also missed the part of the museum devoted to Al Qaeda. The exhibits they did see “did not really make clear that this is a fringe organization that really has corrupted much of the Quran,” Mr. Schwecke said.
Mr. Schwecke suggested that the museum should find a local imam and let him do a brief film for the museum “about this is who Muslims really are.”
“What’s the purpose of the museum if not to teach?” Mr. Speedbey said.
During our brief visit to the 9/11 Museum, we only had time to take in a few minutes of "The Rise Of Al Qaeda," but the effect of the "crash course" was disquieting. Myths about the government's reaction to 9/11 are perpetuated, and the motivation for the war in Iraq is barely mentioned.
The Times piece also mentions a petition started to remove Debra Burlingame from the museum's board. Burlingame's brother was an airline pilot killed in the attacks, and recently appeared on FOX News, saying she was "hard pressed" to deny the charges that she's an Islamophobe.
"I think that the term 'Islamohobe' is used to silence people, frankly," she says. "There's no such thing as an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims when we know that virtually 80% of terrorist attacks are committed by radical muslims who are motivated by what they deem to be an imperative from their sacred religious texts."
FBI data show that 6% of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil from 1980 to 2005 were committed by Islamic extremists. A State Department report in 2011 showed that while "Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities" worldwide, "Muslims continued to bear the brunt of terrorism, while attacks targeting Christians dropped nearly 45 percent from a five-year high in 2010."
Joe Daniels, the President of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, said in a statement, "As someone whose brother was killed aboard the plane in the attack on the Pentagon, Debra Burlingame stands as one of the most committed, and her contributions over the years have helped build a special place that honors the memory of the victims, preserves the history of 9/11 and presents the facts of a horrific tragedy." He adds, "We are honored to have her serve on this board."