Omar El Sherif provokes Muslims once again
Prominent Egyptian actor Omar El Sherif raised a wave of disapproval and rage amongst religious Muslims with his new movie “Hidalgo”, which is not screened yet in the Arab world. The Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIRE) condemned the movie by saying its depreciating Arabs and Muslims. American media also criticized the subject of the movie.
Producers of the film stressed that they consulted Muslim specialists before starting the movie, according to the Egyptian based daily, Al-Gomhorya. The story of the movie is based on the true story of the greatest long-distance horse race ever run, "Hidalgo", which is an epic action-adventure and one man's journey of personal redemption.
Held yearly for centuries, the Ocean of Fire - a 3,000 mile survival race across the Arabian Desert - was a challenge restricted to the finest Arabian horses ever bred, the purest and noblest lines, owned by the greatest royal families. In 1890, Omar performs the role of a wealthy Sheikh, Riyad al-Arabi, who invites the American jockey and his horse to enter the race for the first time. Frank T. Hopkins (Mortensen) was a cowboy and dispatch rider for the US cavalry who had once been billed as the greatest rider the West had ever known.
The Sheik would put his claim to the test, pitting the American cowboy and his mustang, Hidalgo, against the world's greatest Arabian horses and Bedouin riders - some of whom were determined to prevent the foreigner from finishing the race. For Frank, the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride and honor, but a race for his very survival as he and his horse, Hidalgo, attempt the impossible.
The movie had many phrases that can be described as humiliating to Arabs and Muslims. In one of the scenes, the movie described Prophet Mohammed as a pirate before he became a prophet. The movie also shows Omar wondering about the reasons why women wear Hijab, and also looks down to the belief of destiny in Islamic religion. At the end of the movie the Arab jockey commits suicide, which contradicts the beliefs of Islam.
El Sherif had recently caused for the rise of a storm of anger among Arab Muslims during an interview to Times magazine. Omar made his remarks during the middle of a nomination to the Oscars for his latest film "Mr. Abraham and the Jewels of the Holy Koran" by different international film committees. His film has been suggested to enter the race for best foreign film in addition to nominating him for an award for best actor.
The remarks that caused the storm of anger were Omar's revealing that he has two grandchildren, one Jewish and the other a Muslim. The actor had stressed that he does not interfere in religious matters and is giving his grandchildren the freedom of choosing which religion they want to follow. Omar added that he will not in any way try to influence them to both follow Islam even if his Muslim grandchild wanted to convert.
Omar's comments came with his new movie, which is about love between an old Muslim and a young Jew. Sherif described his new film as "a comeback." The love portrayed in film is not the kind of dashing romantic role that made him originally famous.
This time, it is a story of love between a lonely old Muslim shopkeeper and a neglected Jewish teen in Paris during the 1960s, who flee loneliness together through a unique relationship and friendship. During the course of events in the film, the Jewish man eventually decides to convert to Islam due to its nature of forgiveness and teachings.
Many believed that Omar's comments were a way of denying his true Arab and Muslim identity and roots, and aiming winning sentimentality and sympathy from American Jews, who are behind the decision making process in the cinema. The actor did not deny making such remarks with regards to his grandchildren and attempt to calm the storm of Anger. –Albawab.com
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)