Disney’s popular live-action remake of its classic animated film “Aladdin,” now enjoying hot reviews, especially from movie-goers (currently 94 percent positive on movie review aggregator “Rotten Tomatoes”), is actually “rooted in racism, Orientalism and Islamophobia.”
At least, that’s according to the Council on American Islamic Relations, which while claiming the mantle of Muslim civil rights organization has a long trail of terror ties, including being named by a federal judge as a co-conspirator in the largest terror-funding trial in U.S. history.
Moreover, says CAIR, it is especially bad to release such a movie “during the Trump era of rapidly rising anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and racist animus.”
That “only serves to normalize stereotyping and to marginalize minority communities,” the organization claims.
But, asks Hany Ghoraba, for the Investigative Project on Terrorism: “What happens when you take a classic story created by a Syrian writer, modernized with a multi-ethnic, multi-national cast, that tops the box office from the United States to the Middle East?”
“If the Council on American-Islamic Relations is involved,” says Ghoraba, “you get empty cries of ‘Islamophobia.'”
The CAIR statement, from its founder and CEO Nihad Awad, lashed out at Disney: “The overall setting, tone and character development in the ‘Aladdin’ story continues to promote stereotypes, resulting in a perpetuation of Islamophobic ideas and images. We urge the public and film critics to scrutinize the new production of ‘Aladdin’ in light of its historical context and today’s toxic environment for all minority communities.”
Not surprisingly, the Investigative Project report noted that CAIR’s protest “has not garnered much traction.” It added:
“A Seattle Times review described the movie as ‘misconceived’ and said it ‘lacks real magic.’ It briefly mentioned the CAIR complaint, but countered with Disney’s emphasis that ‘its cast is the most ethnically diverse in the company’s history.’ CAIR’s complaint is an odd one, since Muslims do not constitute a race, and represent ethnicities from across the globe. As for claims that the story is rooted in Orientalism, the ‘Arabian Nights’ stories are a Middle Eastern creation that has existed for more than a millennium. ‘Arabian Nights’ stories originate from Persian, Indian, Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi stories. According to Egyptian actress Lubna Abdel Aziz, television shows based on the ‘Arabian Nights’ often premiered during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,” the report said.
But according to CAIR, the story “is rather the invention of French orientalist Antoine Galland and made popular in English by Richard Burton who overly sexualized the story to further exotify Arabs and Muslims.”
Further, laments CAIR, a children’s version “has been the source of alienation and trauma for Arab, South Asian and Muslim children.”
Yet, explained IPT, “‘Arabian Nights’ was shown on Arabic television networks for decades. Television networks in Egypt, Kuwait, and Morocco produced their own versions. Egyptian television, radio and cinema produced many versions of the stories since the 1940s including modern adaptations of ‘Aladdin.’ All of these versions share the trappings of the original ‘Arabian Nights’ stories, including magic carpets, forbidden love, genies, bazaars and crooked politicians, which Awad describes as Orientalist and Islamophobic.”
The movie was filmed largely in Jordan, where Crown Prince Al Hussein Bin Abdullah introduced actors during a private screening for children hospitalized at Amman’s King Hussein Cancer Center. It became an instant hit there.
It has grossed $615 million worldwide.
Explained IPT, “Attacking works of art and cinema has been part of the Muslim Brotherhood agenda in Egypt for decades. When it reached power in Egypt in 2012, one of its first orders of business was targeting elderly comedic actor Adel Imam. He was convicted of insulting Islam.”
CAIR also has been designated a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates.
WND has compiled a list of CAIR leaders who have been charged with terror-related crimes.
Rogues gallery of terror-tied CAIR leaders
|FBI agents arresting Ghassan Elashi in 2002.|
- Ghassan Elashi: One of CAIR’s founding directors, he was convicted in 2004 of illegally shipping high-tech goods to terror state Syria and is serving 80 months in prison. He was also convicted of providing material support to Hamas in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing trial. He was chairman of the charity, which provided seed capital to CAIR. Elashi is related to Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.
- Muthanna al-Hanooti: The CAIR director’s home was raided in 2006 by FBI agents in connection with an active terrorism investigation. Agents also searched the offices of his advocacy group, Focus on Advocacy and Advancement of International Relations, which al-Hanooti operates out of Dearborn, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. Al-Hanooti, who emigrated to the U.S. from Iraq, formerly helped run a suspected Hamas terror front called LIFE for Relief and Development. Its Michigan offices also were raided in September 2006. In 2004, LIFE’s Baghdad office was raided by U.S. troops, who seized files and computers. Al-Hanooti is related to Sheik Mohammed al-Hanooti, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
“Al-Hanooti collected over $6 million for support of Hamas,” according to a 2001 FBI report, and was present with CAIR and Holy Land officials at a secret Hamas fundraising summit held in 1993 at a Philadelphia hotel. Prosecutors added his name to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case.
Although Al-Hanooti denies supporting Hamas, he has praised Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs” who are “alive in the eyes of Allah.”
- Abdurahman Alamoudi: Another CAIR director, he is serving 23 years in federal prison for plotting terrorism. Alamoudi, who was caught on tape complaining that bin Laden hadn’t killed enough Americans in the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, was one of al-Qaida’s top fundraisers in America, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- Siraj Wahhaj: A member of CAIR’s board of advisers, Wahhaj was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The radical Brooklyn imam was close to convicted terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and defended him during his trial.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj
“Muslim Mafia,” citing co-author’s Sperry’s previous book “Infiltration” as well as terror expert Steven Emerson’s research, reports that Wahhaj, a black convert to Islam, is converting gang members to Islam and holding “jihad camps” for them. With a combination of Islam and Uzis, he has said, the street thugs will be a powerful force for Islam the day America “will crumble.”
Wahhaj was a key speaker at CAIR’s 15th annual fund-raising banquet in Arlington, Virginia, in 2009.
- Randall “Ismail” Royer: The former CAIR communications specialist and civil-rights coordinator is serving 20 years in prison in connection with the Virginia Jihad Network, which he led while employed by CAIR at its Washington headquarters. The group trained to kill U.S. soldiers overseas, cased the FBI headquarters and cheered the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. Al-Qaida operative Ahmed Abu Ali, convicted of plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush, was among those who trained with Royer’s Northern Virginia cell.
- Bassam Khafagi: Another CAIR official, Khafagi was arrested in 2003 while serving as CAIR’s director of community affairs. He pleaded guilty to charges of bank and visa fraud stemming from a federal counter-terror probe of his leadership role in the Islamic Assembly of North America, which has supported al-Qaida and advocated suicide attacks on America. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison and deported to his native Egypt.
- Laura Jaghlit: A civil-rights coordinator for CAIR, her Washington-area home was raided by federal agents after 9/11 as part of an investigation into terrorist financing, money laundering and tax fraud. Her husband Mohammed Jaghlit, a key leader in the Saudi-backed SAAR network, is a target of the still-active probe. Jaghlit sent two letters accompanying donations – one for $10,000, the other for $5,000 – from the SAAR Foundation to Sami al-Arian, now a convicted terrorist. In each letter, according to a federal affidavit, “Jaghlit instructed al-Arian not to disclose the contribution publicly or to the media. “Investigators suspect the funds were intended for Palestinian terrorists via a U.S. front called WISE, which at the time employed an official who personally delivered a satellite phone battery to Osama bin Laden. The same official also worked for Jaghlit’s group. In addition, Jaghlit donated a total of $37,200 to the Holy Land Foundation, which prosecutors say is a Hamas front. Jaghlit subsequently was named an unindicted co-conspirator in the case.
- Nihad Awad: Wiretap evidence from the Holy Land case puts CAIR’s executive director at the Philadelphia meeting of Hamas leaders and activists in 1993 that was secretly recorded by the FBI. Participants hatched a plot to disguise payments to Hamas terrorists as charitable giving. During the meeting, according to FBI transcripts, Awad was recorded discussing the propaganda effort. He mentions Ghassan Dahduli, whom he worked with at the time at the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Hamas front. Both were IAP officers. Dahduli’s name also was listed in the address book of bin Laden’s personal secretary, Wadi al-Hage, who is serving a life sentence in prison for his role in the U.S. embassy bombings. Dahduli, an ethnic-Palestinian like Awad, was deported to Jordan after 9/11 for refusing to cooperate in the terror investigation. (An April 28, 2009, letter from FBI assistant director Richard C. Powers to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. – which singles out CAIR chief Awad for suspicion – explains how the group’s many Hamas connections caused the FBI to sever ties with CAIR.) Awad’s and Dahduli’s phone numbers are listed in a Muslim Brotherhood document seized by federal investigators revealing “important phone numbers” for the “Palestine Section” of the Brotherhood in America. The court exhibit showed Hamas fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook listed on the same page with Awad.
- Omar Ahmad: U.S. prosecutors also named CAIR’s founder and chairman emeritus as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case. Ahmad, too, was placed at the Philadelphia meeting, FBI special agent Lara Burns testified at the trial. Prosecutors also designated him as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Palestine Committee” in America. Ahmad, like his CAIR partner Awad, is ethnic-Palestinian. (Though both Ahmad and Awad were senior leaders of IAP, the Hamas front, neither of their biographical sketches posted on CAIR’s website mentions their IAP past.)
- Nabil Sadoun: A CAIR board member, Sadoun has served on the board of the United Association for Studies and Research, which investigators believe to be a key Hamas front in America. In fact, Sadoun co-founded UASR with Hamas leader Marzook. The Justice Department added UASR to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case. In 2010, Sadoun was ordered deported to his native Jordan. An immigration judge referenced Sadoun’s relationship with Hamas and the Holy Land Foundation during a deportation hearing.
- Mohamed Nimer: CAIR’s research director also served as a board director for UASR, the strategic arm for Hamas in the U.S. CAIR neglects to mention Nimer’s and Sadoun’s roles in UASR in their bios.
- Rafeeq Jaber: A founding director of CAIR, Jaber was the long-time president of the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2002, a federal judge found that “the Islamic Association for Palestine has acted in support of Hamas.” In his capacity as IAP chief, Jaber praised Hezbollah attacks on Israel. He also served on the board of a radical mosque in the Chicago area.
- Rabith Hadid: The CAIR fundraiser was a founder of the Global Relief Foundation, which after 9/11 was blacklisted by the Treasury Department for financing al-Qaida and other terror groups. Its assets were frozen in December 2001. Hadid was arrested on terror-related charges and deported to Lebanon in 2003.
- Hamza Yusuf: The FBI investigated the CAIR board member after 9/11, because just two days before the attacks, he made an ominous prediction to a Muslim audience. “This country is facing a terrible fate, and the reason for that is because this country stands condemned,” Yusuf warned. “It stands condemned like Europe stood condemned because of what it did. And lest people forget, Europe suffered two world wars after conquering the Muslim lands.”