By Sharon Otterman
After the vivid audio recordings, diagrams and personal artifacts that take visitors minute by minute through the Sept. 11 attacks, and before the images of recovery workers combing through rubble, a small section of the National September 11 Memorial Museum is devoted to explaining Al Qaeda and terrorism.
A seven-minute video installation narrates a summarized history of Al Qaeda, opposite a series of brief explanatory panels about the group’s ideology and its attacks. On a recent weekday, some visitors stopped to watch the film in its entirety, but others only paused briefly. Some read the text panels, one of which explains that Al Qaeda represents a tiny fraction of the world’s Muslims; many people did not.
In April, the video, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,”became the center of a controversy over how the museum should talk about Islam in reference to the attacks. An interfaith group of New York clergy members argued the film failed to sufficiently differentiate between terrorism and Islam, and asked for changes. Now that the public has access to the museum, some visitors say they agree. [Read more…]