Visitors Say the 9/11 Museum’s Depiction of Islam Needs Revision

A controversial film has visitors asking for a better explanation of the Muslim faith.

911 museumSome visitors to the 9/11 Museum say the depiction of Islam in one of the films in the exhibit, The Rise of Islam, unfairly and erroneously depicts the Muslim faith.

“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,” one visitor, a 22-year-old man from San Francisco, told The New York Times. “It kind of gives Islam a bad vibe.”

The issues expressed in the quote above echo the concerns by an advisory panel who viewed the short film before the museum opened for the public. “At issue is whether it is inflammatory for the museum to use terms like ‘Islamist’ and ‘jihad’ in conjunction with the Sept. 11 attack, without making clear that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful. The panel has urged the use of more specific language, such as ‘Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism’ and doing more to explain the meaning of jihad,” the group of clergy said. The lone imam on the panel, Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, resigned to protest the film.

The visitors that the Times spoke with said they wanted more explanation “to enrich their perspective or teach them more than they already knew” about Islam and Al Qaeda. Islam, the paper notes, must be separated from terrorism if it’s to be accurate. Where we usually make a message more succinct, visitors, in this case, want more detail.

It doesn’t help that one of the museum’s board members, Debra Burlingame, whose brother was an airline pilot killed on 9/11, on gone on Fox News to talk about a controversial tweet: “When are citizens going to rise up and demand the govt acknowledge that Islam is a transnational threat, that govt denial is killing us.”

She added this biased sound bite on television: “There’s no such thing as an irrational fear of Islam or Muslims when we know that virtually 80 percent of terror attacks in the world are committed by radical Muslims.”

Recently, many people were up in arms because the museum’s souvenir shop sold a cheese platter — or as museum officials prefer to call it, a “commemorative tray” — which was deemed in poor taste. It has been pulled from shelves. It was just one of what the New York Post calls “taste challenged items” on sale. There’s also been talk about the museum’s restaurant and a cocktail party that was held there.

This is also deserving of some discussion, a little outrage, and, by the sound of it, drastic editing. The 9/11 Museum is an opportunity to educate and to share truth. Visitors are asking for it and feel as though, with this film as is, they’re not getting it.