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Geo TV's Urdu dubbing of 'Message' creates flare up in Kupwara
Teachers claim it was the current blasphemous one; Army says it wasn't
9/15/2012 12:03:25 AM
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Sept 14: On a day when the valley of Kashmir, alongwith entire Muslim world, was burning with rage against a California-based filmmaker's blasphemous production, Army's expedition of winning the hearts of local Muslim students with Moustapha Akkad's classic--- The Message--- boomeranged in Kupwara. As the school teachers alleged that Army was screening the same film that had outraged the Muslims since last week, Police and security forces claimed that it was an old, popular production that had been dubbed in Urdu by Pakistan's Geo TV and certified by the top Islamic universities of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Informed sources in north Kashmir said that as a part of Army's Operation Sadbhavana, soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles 28 Bn organized a function at Government Middle School Potshai in Lolab valley of Kupwara district today. While a film was being screened on a projector, one of the teachers protested that it was the same blasphemous movie ('Mohammad') that had currently stirred up the entire Muslim world. He was soon joined by local school teachers and the students too followed.
Within minutes, there were anti-national and anti-Army slogans with the allegation that Army was hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims with the screening of an inflammable film.
Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara, Sarmad Hafeez, told Early Times that he personally visited the spot, alongwith additional DC and SP Kupwara. He said that the officers succeeded in pacifying the gathering with the assurance that the film would be previewed and the guilty would be punished in case it turned out to be a blasphemous film. He said that Police accordingly seized the tapes and projector and later found during previewing that it was not any blasphemous film.
DC Kupwara said that according to the Police it was the famous Hollywood director Moustapha Akkad's classic film "The Message" that had been duly certified by top Islamic universities in the Arab world and had grown very popular when it was screened throughout the world in 1976-77. "Police told me that it was the Urdu dubbing of Moustapha Akkad's film 'The Message' created by Pakistan's private television channel Geo TV", Sarmad Hafeez asserted.
"But, unfortunately, when we left back for Kupwara, some people reportedly gathered and blocked the road. They clashed with Police and in retaliation two or three Policemen got injured", DC Kupwara said. "However, the situation is now fully under control".
Civilian sources said that Police were looking for a teacher, namely Mohammad Maqbool of Sopore, who had first raised objection to screening of the film. They said that the clash occurred when troops took into custody two of the residents, namely Abdul Hamid Khan and Mohammad Shafi. They said that participants of the show shouted slogans and pelted stones to register their protest against screening of the film and seeking release of the two civilians arrested by Army. Officials claimed that nobody had been arrested or detained by Police or security forces.
Interestingly, director of 'The Message' Moustapha Akkad is also the creator of another Muslim blockbuster 'Omar Mukhat', the film on a Libyan revolutionary icon, that is held responsible for generating the first anti-India and anti-Sheikh Abdullah wave in Kashmir in 1986. Political historians insist that 'Omar Mukhtar' stirred up the emotions of a young generation in 1980s, eventually leading to the birth of Muslim United Front---father of the post-1990 Hurriyat Conference and armed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
Moustapha Akkad
Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1930, Akkad emerged as a famous film director of Hollywood after completing his studies in direction at the University of California, Los Angeles. He died in Amman, Jordan, in a massive explosion on November 11th in 2005.
In 1976, the Syrian-America filmmaker produced and directed "Mohammad, Messenger of God" (released as The Message in 1977 in the United States), starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas. Akkad faced resistance from Hollywood to make the film in Morocco.
While creating "Mohammad, Messenger of God", he consulted Islamic clerics and tried to be respectful toward Islam and its views on portraying Prophet Mohammad. He got the approval from the Al- Azhar in Egypt but was rejected by Muslim World League in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Governments of Kuwait, Libya and Morocco promised to support the film financially, but when it was rejected by the Muslim World League, Kuwait withdrew its financial support.
King Hassan II of Morocco gave Akkad full support for the production of the film. The production took one year. Akkad filmed for 6 months in Morocco, but had to stop when the Saudi Government exerted great pressure on Morocco to stop the production. Akkad went to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya for support to complete the project, Gaddafi allowed him to move the filming to Libya for the remaining 6 months until the film was completed.
In 1980, Akkad directed "The Lion of the Desert", in which Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas were joined by Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger and John Gielgud. It was about the real-life Bedouin leader Omar Mukhtar (Quinn), who fought Benito Mussolini's Italian troops in the deserts of Libya. The movie was later critically acclaimed, after initially receiving negative publicity in the West for being partially funded by Gaddafi, then an anti-American and pro-Russian military ruler.
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