• Arts
  • September 28, 2008
  • 14 minutes read

Mass-mailed DVD has local Muslims raising concerns

Mass-mailed DVD has local Muslims raising concerns

— It was Mansfield“s 7th annual Ramadan fast-breaking celebration — but Arshad Ahmad felt an uncharacteristic heaviness of heart.



Some of his co-workers at Hi-Stat Manufacturing, along with neighbors, were among the Ohioans recently mailed the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam”s War Against the West.”


Ahmad and other Mansfield area Muslims see the DVD as promoting fear and ideas about Islam that don”t mirror their actual beliefs.


“It is just hate,” he said.


Mansfield-area Muslims believe 28 million DVDs may be delivered to people in swing states such as Ohio as the presidential election nears.


“The Ohio Council of Churches held a press conference in Columbus. They were saying it was so reprehensible, it could foment attacks by unstable people who could take some of these things at face value,” said Ahmeem Habeeb, president of the Islamic Society of Mansfield. “It”s just unfortunate.”


The Islamic Society of Mansfield, which hosted the Ramadan party at the Masonic Temple, was frank about its concerns regarding the DVD.


“At this time, we have a very charged atmosphere,” Ahmad told guests at the celebration. “That DVD is being sent so they can affect the outcome of the election in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri and other swing states that don”t vote consistently, and can influence the outcome of the election.”


Ahmad, who was born in India, said his family has made its home in north central Ohio.


“My son was born here. He has no other place to go,” he said. “We are Americans. We don”t want to live in a divided nation. We are one nation, under God, and God bless America.”


He asked people who have watched the DVD to visit an Islamic Web site, www.obsessionwithhate.com, to hear the other side. “The Web site gives you the truth,” he said. “Most Muslims, I can guarantee, they are peace-loving people.”


Mayor Don Culliver, one of several speakers, said more than 1 billion Muslims practice their faith around the globe. “It is time to reflect on how Islam has enriched our nation,” he said.


The fast breaking party was held close to Oct. 1, the end of the month-long period of Ramadan. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day throughout the month.


“In Ramadan, there is an emphasis on feeding the poor — not only feeding, but feeling the hunger and deprivation the poor feel,” Habeeb said. “Ramadan is a month that makes us better, because we are getting closer to God, through prayers, fasting, and coming together in brotherhood and unity.”


Keynote speaker was Sunni-Ali Islam, imam of Masjid Al-Islam in Columbus, who lived in Mansfield from 1971 to 1973, working at Mansfield Tire and Rubber. “We all share this earth together. If people of faith are following their traditions, and are sharing the land as they should, there should be no problems,” he said.


Islamic Society members invited friends, neighbors, co-workers, to the event.


Iva Ivanova, an Ashland University student from Bulgaria, was at the feast, which featured a wide variety of Mideastern food including hummus, pita bread, chickpea salad, lentil soup and baklava.


She thought the fast breaking celebration was wonderful.


“I find a lot of similarities between Islam and Christianity,” she said. The Islamic Society has “been nice and welcoming.”