Thursday, November 27, 2008
Film producer plans dreary, propagandizing Muhammad biopic
As you can see below, Nonie Darwish and I don't think this film is going to make cinematic history. Raymond posted this article here yesterday, but I didn't want to let it pass without chiming in as well. "Critics Decry Plans for a Movie Depicting Life of Prophet Muhammad," by Maxim Lott for FoxNews, November 25 (thanks to all who sent this in): If film producer Oscar Zoghbi has his way, Americans will be soon be flocking to movie theaters to see a film about the Prophet Muhammad and his followers that Zoghbi hopes will clear up misconceptions about Muslims, including what he says is "the understanding that all Muslims are terrorists."
Come on, Zoghbi. Who is really saying that "all Muslims are terrorists"? I know of no analyst on the scene today who is saying that. When you set up a straw man before you're even out of the box, it casts a shadow over your entire project.
Zoghbi says he hopes to shoot some scenes for his movie in the holy cities of Medina and Mecca, and he predicts his film, "The Messenger of Peace," will rival Mel Gibson's "The Passion of The Christ."
If he plans to shoot in Mecca, he better plan to convert to Islam, if he isn't a Muslim already:
And that brings to mind a question: will his film depict Muhammad saying, "I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims," and other things he said that don't shine brightly among the Pearls of Wisdom from the World's Religions? Somehow I doubt it.
But some critics predict Zoghbi's movie, which is scheduled to begin production early next year, will be a whitewash, and that it won't tell the whole story about Muhammad or Islam.
Nonie Darwish, the author of the upcoming book "Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law," said the film will likely try too hard not to offend.
"The movie will probably avoid or justify Muhammad's violent and unprovoked battling years in Medina, where assassination and mass murder were done by Muhammad … in order to spread the religion, take control and silence his critics," Darwish said.
"We will probably see the image of Muhammad that most Muslims were spoon-fed in their religious education."
Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.com, said Western audiences looking to learn more about a religion tangled in stereotypes of suicide bombers will be disappointed by "The Messenger of Peace."
"They're already taking a stand on a controversial issue with the title alone, denying and downplaying the manifest fact that numerous Muslims around the world have justified acts of violence by invoking Muhammad's words and example," Spencer said.
But Zoghbi says his film will very deliberately take a moderate approach.
"We are trying to depict the values and teachings of the Prophet. It's not a historical film in any way," he said.
That is a distinction without a difference. Muhammad taught certain things, and he lived out those teachings. He taught, "I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah," and he lived that out by participating in numerous battles against unbelievers.
Will Zoghbi's film depict that "value"?
"And it's not a Muslim propaganda film. This film is also for Muslims, and I hope it will encourage them to condemn violence."
I hope so also, but how does Zoghbi intend to accomplish that? Does he think that by presenting a whitewashed picture of Muhammad, bereft of battles and commands to do battle, he will inspire Muslims to "condemn violence"? Does he think they will have no other sources for Muhammad's words and deeds besides his film?
One thing Zoghbi hopes to avoid is the violence and outrage in the Muslim world that has followed some recent depictions of the prophet Muhammad.
Islamic conventions forbid the showing of Muhammad in any form, and violence has often followed the release of newspaper cartoons, books and films that criticized or simply depicted the Muslim prophet.
In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran a cartoon depicting Muhammad wearing a turban with a bomb in it, sparking riots that killed more than 30 people throughout the Islamic world. This year, protests began on news of "Fitna," a film critical of Islam, and Random House cancelled distribution of the widely anticipated book "Jewel of Medina" out of fear of such a reaction.
Zoghbi said that he will make every effort to ensure that "The Messenger of Peace" is in line with Islamic traditions.
"Islam itself doesn't stop you from showing the Prophet," Zoghbi said. "But it is convention and tradition, and we will abide by that. We do not want to offend anyone."
Of course not!