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Muslims back hollywood film on prophet muhammad

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By Corrine Louw

(source: Sunday Times)

South African Muslims have given the thumbs up to the making of a movie on the life of Prophet Muhammad by a Hollywood producer.

Local Muslims threw their weight behind the international project after learning that leading Muslim scholar Sheik Yusuf Al Qaradhawi of Egypt would be working closely with the film’s Oscar-winning producer Barrie Osborne, who made box-office hits like Lord of the Rings and The Matrix.

The movie, which hasn't been titled, is the brainchild of Alnoor Holdings, a Qatar-based media company. Its chairman, Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mustafa, reportedly said the movie the shooting of which is expected to start in 2011 would highlight the "humanity of Prophet Muhammad". Al-Jazeera television reported that the film would star English-speaking Muslims. The Muslim Judicial Council has welcomed the proposed movie. Spokesman Nabeweya Malick said: "We hope it will serve humanity by spreading the noble teachings of a man who encouraged mankind to perfection of character, seeking of knowledge and living in the service and for the greater good of all mankind." Iqbal Jassat, head of the Muslim watchdog body Media Review Network, said the sheik's involvement in the movie had removed any doubts he might have had about an American producer making a movie about the Islamic prophet. "In a general sense, my observations on Hollywood's history of bias against Islam remains," said Jassat. He said his scepticism stemmed from the fact that Hollywood culture had for decades "positioned itself in reinforcing negative and insulting stereotypes of Muslims and Arabs". Moulana Rafeek Shah, head of the Raza mosque in Phoenix, said he did not have a problem with a movie being made about the prophet. But he added that no actor could play him. "If they are trying to depict a true story, then we would be against him being depicted in anyway," said Shah. "Nobody can play the prophet Muhammad. They can use perhaps a shadow or a stick, but no person must play his role. If it is a fictional story, then it is totally disallowed. He cannot be depicted as a fictional character." "Know the Prophet" campaigns were launched worldwide after the outcry in 2005 over cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of a man referred to as the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban.