[QODLink]
Archive
Muslim groups praise Crusades film
A new epic film about the Crusades has struck a chord in the Arab world, where cinemagoers say it has challenged the Hollywood stereotype of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists.
Last Modified: 09 May 2005 14:45 GMT
Arabs have long complained of Hollywood's unfair portrayal
A new epic film about the Crusades has struck a chord in the Arab world, where cinemagoers say it has challenged the Hollywood stereotype of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists.

Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, which depicts a 12th century battle for Jerusalem between Muslims and Crusaders, is also a welcome message of support for those who back moderation over extremism in managing ties between Islam and the West.

"The film goes against religious fanaticism very clearly. All that goes against hatred, fanaticism and systematic opposition between those two worlds is welcome," Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, author of The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, said.

"The aim of the film is to heal wounds, not reopen them," Egyptian film critic Tariq al-Shinnawy said.

Muslim groups have praised the film by the director of Gladiator for its portrayal of Saladin, the Kurdish leader of the Muslim army which in 1187 recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders.

Unfair coverage

Cinemagoers in the Arab world say the film may help repair some of the damage done to Islam's reputation by Hollywood films that have set Muslim fighters against American heroes, and what many see as unfair Western news coverage of the region.

Arabs and Muslims say Hollywood
has damaged Islam's reputation

"Arabs and Muslims usually appear as bloodthirsty savages in Hollywood productions. Kingdom of Heaven is fairer - the Arabs and Muslims come out much better," Deana Elimam, an Egyptian-American living in Cairo, said.

Al-Shinnawy said Saladin, played by Syrian actor Ghassan Massud, would have made a greater impact if Scott had given him a more visible role. "You see glimpses of his heroism," he said.

"It doesn't realise all aspirations, but we cannot ask Ridley Scott to present everything. It is enough that he presents an image in which there is some balance," he said.

Western 'genius'

But Scott's efforts have not won universal praise among Middle Eastern viewers.

US-based Lebanese academic Asad Abu Khalil objected to a scene where the lead character, a Crusader called Balian and played by Orlando Bloom, appeared to show Arab peasants how to dig wells to irrigate farm land.

"I was ... most unhappy, when the hero of the movie ... took over his estate, and with typical Western 'genius' taught those inferior Arabs how to dig for water, as if they had not been doing that for centuries," Abu Khalil said on his website.

"This is akin to the Western myth of Zionist immigration causing the "desert to bloom" in Palestine."

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
join our mailing list