Deborah Weiss of the Center for Security Policy said in an interview with Spero News that political Islam has made inroads not only in Hollywood, but also in social media. Weiss is the author of a new monograph on the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group that has long been linked to terrorist organization. “Islamist Influence in Hollywood” is her new book, which shows how the Muslim Brotherhood is influencing film productions, scripts, and documentaries. She said on Monday that the West is engaged in a war with the “global jihad movement.” The Muslim Brotherhood’s jihad, she said, is seeking to impose Islamic religious law “in a totalitarian way” in the legal, financial, economic spheres, while creeping into the West.

As to the influence of Islamism in social media, Weiss said that she is contacted “all the time” by persons who claim that their posts on social media are being taken down or complaining they are being censored. “Sometimes it is because they post articles that are factual or sometimes because they post videos of an imam preaching ‘Death to America!’ or ‘Death to Israel!’. All they are doing is posting that to show that that this is taking place and then somehow it’s their account that is closed.”

Weiss said that hateful caricatures of Jews and Israelis that appear on social media are repeatedly reported as objectionable, yet they remain online. “Yet, if you report something that is factual in the other direction, it is taken down immediately. Yes, there is a very lopsided response.” While in debating issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Weiss said that she does not use hateful or denigrating language in her posts on social media or elsewhere. But even though she does not indulge in such language, she said that she does not believe that it should be censored. She agreed that the public is now grappling with the phenomenon of unelected powers that are censoring free speech. Referring to testimony by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony last week, when Zuckerberg faced grilling by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Weiss said that while Facebook is a private entity that is legally entitled to conduct censorship, Weiss wondered if the public need to worry about government censors when there is “Facebook censorship.” 

Weiss added that the new technology represented by Facebook should be addressed. “I’m not sure that we have figured out how to handle it yet.” 

As to the influence of Islamism in Hollywood, Weiss said that in researching her book, she found that there are multiple Islamist organizations that are conducting “influence operations” in the United States. “Muslim Brotherhood front organizations have left no stone unturned. They work in every sphere of society to conduct civilizational jihad.” She cited a memo that was entered into a 2008 federal case on Islamist terrorism in which representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hamas terrorist group discussed how they intended to infiltrate and influence the West. Having had success with influencing academia, establishment media, and the inter-faith movement, Weiss said that Islamists are influencing Hollywood.

“There are multiple Muslim Brotherhood front groups that are conducting influence operations. The purpose of them is to gain positions of power, and disseminate information -- or more accurately, disinformation and propaganda --  that will affect the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and ultimately the policies and decisions of both the public and policymakers. In particular, our national security apparatus and our elected officials,” Weiss said. The groups want to influence mainstream audiences, control the public narrative on all Islam-related subjects, including Islamist terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The tactics used are three-fold, said Weiss: 1) censorship; 2) disinformation and propaganda; 3) infiltration. 

Weiss said that platforms such as Hollywood productions and social media are particularly influential among young minds in shaping their world-views. She targeted the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as being especially successful in censoring media by hectoring its opponents, threatening lawsuits, and strong-arming movie producers. “Some of the films that they were able to get altered include “The Sum of All Fears.” This is a film based on a Tom Clancy novel about Islamist terrorism that was altered to feature neo-Nazis as the villains in the film version, she said. Another film she cited is “Kingdom of Heaven” -- a drama about the Crusades of the late 12th century -- which had scenes cut after Muslims objected to a pre-screening and then depicted Christians as murderers and Muslims as morally superior.

As for specific persons working in Hollywood, Weiss said that television producer Howard Gordon, who is well known for his work on the Showtime series “Homeland” and the Fox network’s successful “24.” Weiss said that he was approached by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and induced to change certain segments of “24.” She also claimed that he consulted with another “Muslim Brotherhood front” organization before releasing “Tyrant”: a 2014 television series that depicted the dictator of a fictional Muslim country. While saying that Gordon has admitted that he has made a business decision to allow the intromission of Islamist groups in his productions, he has also tried to intervene with other producers to “go soft” on stereotypes of Muslims in their films. She asserted that CAIR and related groups are interested in having members of other religions and groups, except for Islam, depicted as terrorists and criminals. 

Weiss spoke about the influence of Muslims on Screen and Television (MOST), which is a project of the nonprofit Unity Productions Fund. According to the latter’s website, UPF’s mission is to “counter bigotry and create peace through the media” by producing films that “tell compelling stories for television, online viewing, and theatrical release.” The website says further that “These films are part of long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding among people of different faiths and cultures, especially among Muslims and other faiths. Screenings have taken place in thousands of classrooms and civic institutions.”


 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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