The UK’s Daily Star has a go at using the film Kingdom of Heaven to keep the pot boiling over Muslim terrorist scare mongering.
Apparently Ridley Scott’s epic is promoting “Osama bin Laden’s version of history” – the verdict of Cambridge professor Jonathan Riley-Smith.
Worst of all, Ridley Scott is apparently depicting Muslims as sophisticated and civilised while showing the crusaders as barbarians.
In a separate box out, Daily Star hack Jerry Lawton turns his hand to history in a piece entitled “1,000 years of conflict”.
Back of the class for Jerry though – he says that the Crusades started in 1076 when Muslims captured Jerusalem. Wrong Jerry, that was 400 years earlier in 638. Pope Urban’s call for the retaking of Jerusalem wasn’t until 1095.
Thanks to the always excellent Arab Media Watch for drawing this to our attention.
CRUSADING & ABETTING; EXPERT’S TERROR WARNING OVER BIG SCREEN EPIC
by JERRY LAWTON
MOVIE blockbuster Kingdom Of Heaven has been blasted by an expert who fears it could trigger a new campaign of world terror. Britain’s leading authority on the Crusades has branded it “Osama bin Laden’s version of history”.
The £65million epic supposedly depicts the battle for the Holy Land between Christians and Muslims in the 12th Century. And it has just opened across the Middle East to massive audiences. But Cambridge professor Jonathan Riley-Smith fears the film could trigger a fresh wave of atrocities.
He warned: “It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists. Kingdom of Heaven will feed the preconceptions of Arab nationalists and Islamists. At a time of interfaith tension, nonsense like this will only reinforce existing myths.”
Gladiator director Ridley Scott’s movie stars Orlando Bloom, 28, Liam Neeson, 52, and French beauty Eva Green, 24. But even before shooting started, politicians raised concerns in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks and the war in Iraq. And academics said the script contained gross historical inaccuracies.
Riley-Smith – who has devoted his life to studying the Crusades as Professor of Ecclesiastical History – slammed it for pandering to Islamic fundamentalists.
It depicts Muslims as sophisticated and civilised and the Crusaders as barbarians. Cruel and cowardly Christian clergy preach hatred against the Muslims. At the same time, the Holy Land is shown as an early America – a brave new world welcoming immigrants from a poor and repressive Europe. And it’s where a band of liberal-minded men vow to create a place where all religions can exist in harmony. Muslim sultan Saladin – who took on the chief Crusader Richard The Lionheart – shares the group’s desire for peace.
But according to Riley-Smith it is all “invention”. He said: “There was no brotherhood of free thinkers. There did not need to be because, within a decade or two of their occupation of Palestine, the Crusaders had adopted a policy of toleration. Of course, the toleration was necessary if the natives were to be kept quiet. But it is a different reality from that portrayed in the film.”
He added: “No one can object to romantic fiction but the film-makers have boasted that ‘authenticity coloured every facet of the production’. If so, they have not had good advice. Not even the city of Jerusalem is sacrosanct, with a non-existent mountain – supposedly denoting Calvary – rising incongruously out of the town. Worse, where they could have created fictional characters they have opted for real historical personalities who they have distorted ruthlessly.”
But Hiyam Itani of Circuit Empire, which is handling the picture for 20th Century Fox in the Middle East, said: “People are really interested in it. They can relate to the story and the religious aspects. After all, it happened here.”
1,000 YEARS OF CONFLICT
THE Crusades may have taken place in the Middle Ages – but the battle for supremacy between Christians and Muslims still rages.
The Crusades started in 1076 when Muslims captured Jerusalem. For Christians it was the holiest place on Earth, where Jesus lived and was crucified. But it was also vastly important to Muslims as Muhammad – the founder of the faith – died there. In 1095 Pope Urban II declared war on the Muslims, sparking the bloody Crusades which spanned nearly 200 years.
Kingdom Of Heaven highlights the struggle between Muslim leader Saladin and Richard The Lionheart in the Third Crusade. Richard failed to retake Jerusalem but negotiated a truce and returned to England a hero. Since then, Christian and Muslim leaders have battled to build bridges between the faiths.
But Osama bin Laden’s Holy War on the West has reopened old wounds. Critics branded George Bush’s war on Iraq a modern-day “crusade” to impose democracy on a Muslim culture.