Sacrificed Survivors: Recreated Xenophobia

There is a new documentary coming up, “Sacrificed Survivors: the Untold Story of the ground Zero Mosque”. October 28th will be the premiere of this documentary but it already created some controversy. I want to raise two points here, first one about the approach of the documentary, and the second one about the Turkish flag used in the cover and posters. Quick disclaimer, I did not have the opportunity to see the documentary in its entirety. This is why my comments are based on the trailer, comments, and other descriptions. The project director describes, for instance, the documentary as “a 45-minute film that is fueled by the testimony of the survivors and the families of the victims of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is about how they feel about the mosque being built on the site where their loved ones lost their lives”. In order to “protect America’s religious and moral heritage”, an ‘undercover’ team goes to the mosque, then creates a collage with the footage from the mosque, interviews with the survivors and the families of the victims who don’t like the Islamic Center, and a Turkish flag.

I have an Israeli friend who shared his military experience with me. As part of their training, they visited some of the concentration camps in Europe. While my take on the issue was based on nationalism, his was very universal. I thought about strengthening the nationalism in Israel. He said, if Israeli youth can see what extreme nationalism is capable of doing, the world would be a better place. Here again, we witnessed an atrocious event. 9/11 deeply affected everyone, it changed the way we looked at the world. Now, we have two options again. We can draw lessons from 9/11, we can see what fundamentalism is capable of doing. Or, we can start the blame game. Apparently, Christian Action Network, decided to do the latter.

The trailer, together with Christian Action Network’s name and motto, creates an us vs. them based on religion. Decorated by news pieces from Fox News, several messages point to Islamic take over of the United States. Shortly, no – this attack was not only on Americans. Just like any other terrorist attack, this one was also on humanity. 9/11 could and should be used as a case to see what fundamentalist religious (not only Islamic) thoughts can lead to… If you are curious about what extreme nationalism based on hatred towards a group can lead up to, take a long historical journey back to Third Reich.

My second point, Turkish flag on the cover, also shows us how close Turkish brand is to Islam. As far as I know, Turkey had nothing to do with 9/11. Turkish national flag is unique. The older Ottoman flags were closely associated with Islam and were sometimes used as religious symbols. But Turkish flag does not have such a function. Then again, Christian Action Network did not mind using Turkish flag to represent (what I would say) the Islamic ‘conquest’ of Ground Zero. The mere fact that an action network can confuse the flag with a religious symbol is alarming (well, Christian Action Network seems to be a ‘fair & balanced’ organization but still, this seems to be a problem)

Long story short, let’s stop playing the blame game and pointing fingers. 9/11 should be seen as a tragedy uniting humankind, not as a tool to legitimize xenophobia and discrimination. Also, a lesson for Turkish brand – we need to come up with a country image. I am not claiming that we should ignore religion but we should have an image that is not so closely associated with it.

Oh, here is Peter Griffin’s take on Ground Zero… Now, I can understand him better.

PS: Also, knowing more about the symbols we are using in our projects….won’t hurt.


8 thoughts on “Sacrificed Survivors: Recreated Xenophobia

  1. Hakan says:

    Turkey is a secular state and had never supported any kind of terrorist activities. I really do not understand why CAN used Turkish flag to represent islamic figure. As Turkish citizens, we did not forget the attack to HSBC Bank in Istanbul by Al Kaide terrorists. Lots of innocent civilians were killed by them. We condemn every actions of terrorists.

    • Mine! says:

      I am not supporting what they are arguing in this documentary as it is obviously a government-supported documentary….however to believe that Turkey is a ‘secular’ state you should be very naive and far away from the reality…Your statement unfortunately only applies to you most probably and very minority people around you!! The majority of people living in Turkey and governing the country is soo Islam oriented it is worrying!!

      • Efe says:

        I would say, especially when talking in terms of a country’s image, we should look at the structure of the state, rather than the political ideologies of a given government. I do accept that during the recent years, there is a conservative movement. Yet, this movement should not be seen as a shift in the country.
        In other words, the current government does not necessarily reflect the entire Turkish state tradition.

  2. Sinan says:

    Remove the Turkish flag from the poster, it is a big insult to Turkey.

    As i guessed, this documentary is an anti-islam propaganda under the disguise of a 9/11 documentary. It is a shame that they dont talk about the facts that bush government and jews planned 9/11 attacks and it has nothing to do with afghanistan or islam. Nobody believes goverment-supported documentary lies any more.

  3. Paolo says:

    Seriously? The star and crescent on the Turkish flag have nothing to do with Islam? It has everything to do with Islam. Their is a deeper irony here, because that symbolism is rooted in Arab culture, not Turkish. If Turkey truly wanted a flag that represented pride in their cultural independance, the star and crescent wouldn’t be on it. One can only assume that defense of the Turkish flag indicates you are happy with your heritage of Arab cultural and religious colonialism. We Americans fought a revolution to throw off our colonial masters. When will the Turks have the courage to do the same? You need to finish what Ataturk started.

    • hey says:

      The star and crescent on the Turkish flag was the symbol of Byzantium, and was adapted by the Turks after the conquest. Maybe if you take a break, think and read for a brief moment, your insane hatred against anything Arab or Muslim will go away. Worth a try?

  4. Don says:

    As for having the Turkish flag on the cover, very few foreigners will even know that it is the flag of Turkey, but I agree that having any reference to a specific country in association with this film and it’s message is wrong. If you believe Turkey is a purely secular culture, however, I can only assume you are not Armenian or were not taught history in school. Turkey was the domain of the last Calif and is expected to be the birthplace of the final one. Islam is not simply a religion, it is an ideology. Don’t believe me? Name one other religion that tells it’s followers to force others into compliance. Religion is of choice, ideology is enforced upon someone by majority demand. (Socialism, fascism, communism and democracy are ideologies.) Those who choose to live in a democracy cannot choose Islam as well as the two are incompatible. As to the film itself, we have the choice to view it or not, listen to it or not, believe it or not and, as you have done, criticize it or not. Were this an Islamic state, your criticism could have cost your your head. Perhaps it is not so bad after all to live in a country that allows films like this to be made, even if we disagree with the content.

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