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Sunday, August 17, 2008
Anti-Islam Film Debunked; Will WND Report?
Topic: WorldNetDaily

The July 10 WorldNetDaily article sure makes things sound dire:

A new documentary reveals the change in two American children sent to study in an Islamic madrassa in Pakistan from "I want to go home" to "Americans are terrorists."

The two children revealed in the documentary called "The Karachi Kids," are Noor Elahi Khan and Mahboob Elahi Khan.

They have been the subject of an international campaign to obtain their freedom from the madrassa, and according to documentary promoters were escorted from the madrassa by American consular officers in Karachi who then dispatched them on the long trip back to the United States.

"I have been working for months to secure their exit from the madrassa and from Pakistan," said Imran Raza, writer and director of the "Karachi Kids" documentary. "This is great news, but we need to get the other American children out of there, now.

"There are nearly 80 other Americans currently at this Jamia Binoria madrassa – that teaches Deobandism – the religion of the Taliban. Our government, and the Pakistani government, has more work to do to get the other American children out of there," he said.

Just one small problem: The madrassa the boys attended wasn't linked to the Taliban, and they weren't brainwashed. From a July 31 article:

It's a documentary with an alarming message: Two American boys are held captive in a madrassa, a Pakistani religious school, once visited by Osama bin Laden and with ties to the Taliban.

The film, "Karachi Kids," describes threats to artistic freedom of expression from the teaching of conservative Islam. Early copies of the film prompted outrage after the story of the American boys appeared on Fox News, CBS and other news outlets. It also led to demands from Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, for the boys to be returned home.

But the independent filmmaker may have confused the madrassa with one with a similar name tied to Islamic extremists.

The madrassa the boys attended isn't linked to bin Laden or Muslim radicals; instead, it's one the U.S. State Department says is preferred by Pakistani-Americans for its moderate Islamic teachings and one recently visited by a top U.S. diplomat in Pakistan.

How could the filmmaker have got it so wrong? He blames the error on researchers he says he has since dismissed.

"I do need to take responsibility for these things in terms of these were errors that sort of spun out of control," filmmaker Imran Raza said. "I have to take responsibility for the mistakes. I take responsibility for the error in the allegation that Osama bin Laden was there. I take responsibility for the error that some of the Taliban leaders were there."


Both teens returned to their suburban Atlanta home in July after completing their studies. But before the boys returned home, CNN visited them at the Jamia Binoria madrassa in Karachi.

The boys appeared proud that they had completed their studies, including the memorization of the Quran. But they also were very glad to be heading home to American food.

"Hot wings," exclaimed Mehboob, giving the CNN reporter a high five. "I feel very happy that after four years, I'm going back."


CNN was welcomed in the school and spoke to its head, who denied the allegations made in the documentary.

"This is a madrassa, not some jail," said Mohammad Naeem, the head of the school known as a mufti.

Naeem said his school -- one of 13,000 madrassas registered in Pakistan -- never keeps students against their will, adding that the Khan brothers stayed of their own free will. He, too, denied any ties to militant groups, saying that if students or teachers were ever tied to extremists groups, they would be removed from the school immediately.

Back in Atlanta, Noor Khan said the whole experience gave him a better appreciation of America, his family and his faith.

"I am glad I was sent to Pakistan because it taught me to be a better person. It taught me to appreciate what I had before, and I knew when I came back I wasn't going to make the same mistake of not appreciating what I have," he said.


He says the comments of his talking about September 11 in the documentary were twisted and taken out of context. He said what he meant was that the hijackers weren't "true Muslims."

"If those were Muslims, they weren't true Muslims," he said. "We Muslims, we don't kill people. We're not terrorists. ... We're not violent people. We just want to live a happy life."

He then sought to make clear: "I've never met the Taliban; no one showed me how do any terrorist training or activities. I've never witnessed that with my own eyes, and when the media comes to our madrassa, our principal tells to their face, 'All the classes, all the rooms are open to you. You are free to go wherever you want.' "

Will WND tell its readers about the debunking of a film it promoted? Don't count on it -- it has been more than two weeks since the CNN report.

Nor, by the way, should we count on a correction from Accuracy in Media, where a July 23 article by Robin Beshar also promoted the film.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:12 AM EDT

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