As part of the historical tour one makes through the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City, a brief video will be shown describing the group that carried out the deadliest single foreign attack on the homeland in United States history.

Apparently, relating the impetus behind the attack to the religion of Islam has rubbed at least one interfaith group of observers the wrong way.

From the NY Times:

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations.

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims…

“The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum,” Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan, wrote in a letter to the museum’s director. “Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between Al Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”

While I understand the concern that certain unsavory facts of history can leave innocent people negatively stereotyped, that is no excuse for ignoring or whitewashing the truth.

Neither memorials nor museums — or in this case, a combination of the two — are under the obligation to assuage the sensitivities of those who feel indirectly victimized by their existence. Indeed, they exist to remember history as it was, not as we’d like it to be.

It so happens that, as it was, 19 hijackers inspired by what they believed was the proper adherence to the faith of Islam, murdered more than 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001 in a self-described Jihad. No amount of pressure to be politically correct should dissuade the 9/11 Museum leadership from shying away from that fact.

Still, some feel the video should be edited to make it more palatable.

“Don’t tell me this is an Islamist or an Islamic group; that means they are part of us,” [Elazabawy] said in an interview. “We are all of us against that.”

I admire and respect that the imam of a Manhattan mosque wants to dissociate himself and his fellow faithful from the attackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks.

That said, the attackers cannot be separated from their faith. It was their stated rationale for the attacks, and it was stated over and over again. To insinuate otherwise at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum would not only be disingenuous, it would be a disservice to the victims who lost their lives that day, and their families who carry on without them.

(Featured Image Source: YouTube)


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.