Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Muslims offended by new Italian movie with Harvey Keitel.

Media: Another day, another controversy that is overblown.

Rome, 27 Sept. (AKI) - An Italian film has sparked a debate in the Muslim community for its representation of Islam. 'Il mercante di pietre' (The Stone Merchant) by Italian filmmaker Renzo Martinelli "brings back to mind Nazi propaganda against the Jews," accuses Dacia Valent, the spokesperson of the Islamic Anti-Defamation League, an Italian group. Her view is shared by the association of Young Muslims of Italy whose forum is full of messages comparing the movie to Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda. The film released mid-September tells the story of an Italian convert to Islam (interpreted by Harvey Keitel) and Al-Qaeda member who seduces a woman (the actress Jane March) to use her as an unwitting suicide bomber on a ferry. As the story evolves the protagonist - who officially deals in precious stones - starts having doubts over his operation as he falls in love with the woman. The movie is controversial as all the Muslims it portrays are terrorists. At a recent press conference, Martinelli said his film was meant to "sound the alarm against multiculturalists who justify everything and are in favour of opening up Europe - all signs the Muslim world perceives as a weakness, taking advantage of us." The filmmaker - who told reporters he goes around armed just in case some militant attacked him - added tha he "didn't attack Muslims but tried to understand them." According to Ali Shuetz, a member of Milan's Muslim community who was Martinelli's consultant on Islam for the movie, "'il mercante di pietre' is against Islamic terrorism and this is positive, the problem is it leaves no room for moderate Islam, which belongs to the real life and to people." Shuetz said both he and the movie's actors had complained to Martinelli over his one-sided portrayal of Islam but "the filmmaker was very clear about the story he wanted to represent and did not want to change it in any way." The consultant said he was only allowed to have a say in the way Muslims were dressed in the movie and in scenes shot inside a mosque. Also, "at the beginning the protagonist was supposed to be called Iblis which is the name Muslims give to Satan." Shuetz said Martinelli agreed to change it into Shahid, which means martyr in Arabic. The spokesman of Italy's largest Muslim group UCOII, Hamza Piccardo also criticised the film as biased "full of prejudices and stereotypes - a caricature which is intolerable."

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