Demonstrators gathered this morning – homemade signs in tow – to protest the Oregonian
's decision to distribute a DVD called “Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
” as a paid ad insert in the paper's Sunday editions.
The group of about 75 protesters congregated in front of the Oregonian
's offices on Southwest Jefferson Street and Broadway, waving white flags displaying doves and bobbing signs that read “Hate—Not in Our Town” in the direction of cars that drove by, many of whom waved and honked their approval.
Spokespeople from various organizations and faiths took turns behind a podium on the sidewalk and denounced The Oregonian
's connection to the 60-minute DVD, which they described as trying to incite fear of Muslims by assuming an educational tone and proceeding to all-too-hazily differentiate between Islam and terrorist organizations.
“It is the moral obligation of a newspaper to inform, not to misinform,” said United Methodist minister Rev. Chuck Cooper to applause and shouted agreement. “The Oregonian
gets a well deserved ‘F' for citizenship.” He called for a written apology from the newspaper, and suggested that it donate the advertising revenue it received for “Obsession” to a Muslim educational trust in the community.
, American-Palestinian attorney and president of the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon, led the crowd in chanting “say no to hatred, Fred,” directed toward O
publisher Fred Stickel (who appears to be playing the free speech card. He is quoted in an article about the controversy
in Sunday's Oregonian
as saying, "I've always felt we have an obligation to keep our advertising columns as open as possible... Our acceptance of anything—our acceptance or rejection—does not depend on whether or not we agree with the content.").
“It is time to tell the media – the Oregonian
specifically – to stop the use of sophisticated propaganda,” Gores said.
Rabbi Aryeh Hirschfield, co-chair of the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland, struck a note of optimism as he leaned over the podium and made eye contact with members of the surrounding crowd: “My prayer is that this is a positive moment, where we can see what work is to be done,” he said.