Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not Welcome, Documentary on Murfreesboro Mosque Controversy (Rough Cut)

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Filmmaker Eric Allen Bell has been working on a documentary called Not Welcome, about the dust-up surrounding the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. He's put up a 25-minute rough edit of the movie at www.notwelcomedocumentary.com, calling it a "proposal for the long form documentary." This early version is definitely rough, but it shows Bell has some pretty amazing footage in the can.

Aside from the easy theatrics of Islamophobes spewing weird, barely grammatical vitriol, there are moments of real insight. Ossama Bahloul, the imam of the ICM, offers that making a big public anti-mosque stink is actually rhetorical ammunition for Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and elsewhere, who are trying to convince moderate Muslims that America hates Islam. Murfreesboro mayor Ernest Burgess seems to be reading his statement from a sheet of paper, but he also seems to mean it when he says "cultural diversity adds something to any particular location."

Then there's more of that vitriol — in one shot you see someone get in Bell's face and tell him to "get your ass out of here." But that's not where the story ends. Bell says all the hate started to get to him — at one point he taunts a mosque protester by mocking his misspelled sign — and he had to find another way. That's where it really starts to get interesting.

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