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RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World

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  • Pamela Ford
    Thank you for sharing this. Pamela Ford Chair, Department for World Studies Mt. San Jacinto College 1499 N. State Street San Jacinto, CA 92583 800.624-5561 x
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 13, 2004
      RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World

      Thank you for sharing this. 

      Pamela Ford
      Chair, Department for World Studies
      Mt. San Jacinto College
      1499 N. State Street
      San Jacinto, CA 92583
      800.624-5561 x 1533
      909.487-6752 x 1533

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Chidester, Dianne (Jefferson) [mailto:Dianne.Chidester@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 7:36 AM
      To: sacc-l@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World

      This is interesting.  It's a good example of the "Rashomon Effect."  --

      -----Original Message-----

      The Christian Science Monitor, from the April 09, 2004 edition -
      Gibson's movie unlikely box-office hit in Arab world
      By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

      BEIRUT, LEBANON - Gone was the incessant ringing of mobile phones and
      loud background chitchat of patrons typical of the Beirut moviegoing

      Instead, the audience sat in rapt silence, punctuated by moments of

      "It was very hard to watch because of all the blood, but as a Christian
      am glad I saw it.  I think this is how it really happened," said Nicole

      Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ," is
      box office records across the Middle East.  With the approach of Easter,
      Arab Christians identify primarily with the religious message.  But it's
      the film's popularity among Muslims - even though it flouts Islamic
      - that's turning it into a phenomenon.

      Islam forbids the depiction of a prophet, and Koranic verses deny the
      crucifixion ever occurred. For those reasons, the film is banned in
      Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain.  It's also banned in Israel - but for other

      Many Muslims see political parallels between the Jewish treatment of
      in the film and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians today.

      As a result, "The Passion of the Christ," with its two hours of
      bloodletting, is posting record sales in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Qatar,
      Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.  "It has beaten all records," says
      Johnny Masri, general manager of Prime Pictures, the movie's Middle East
      distributors.  "It's more popular than Titanic and the James Bond films.
      We completely underestimated the huge success this movie would have."

      Since being released on March 18, more than 214,000 people have watched
      "The Passion," he says - a substantial figure for this nation of less
      4 million inhabitants.  Even Lebanese President Emile Lahoud is a fan,
      having expressed "strong admiration" for the movie's "pure objectivity."
      Censors in Lebanon closely scrutinize movies with religious themes, wary
      causing offense or controversy in this multisectarian society.  "The
      of Brian," Monty Python's irreverent 1979 spoof on the life of Jesus,
      remains banned in Lebanon to this day.  Similarly, the 1998 animated
      "Prince of Egypt" was banned in Egypt for depicting Moses, a prophet.

      But Mr. Gibson's homage to the final 12 hours of Jesus' life was passed
      the censors, after winning the approval of Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, the
      patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church who was granted a special
      to assess its moral content and suitability for children.  "Very sad,
      extremely impressive," was the cardinal's verdict.

      With Christians accounting for about 30 percent of Lebanon's population,
      the movie has a particular appeal here.  Cinemas in Christian
      of Beirut have doubled the daily number of screenings to cope with the

      Some Christians say they see in the movie's graphic representation of
      Jesus' agony a metaphor for their own hardships in Syrian-dominated
      Lebanon. Since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and the
      consolidation of Syrian hegemony, Lebanese Christians have felt
      increasingly marginalized from the political mainstream. Populist
      opposition leaders languish in jail or exile and tens of thousands of
      Christians have emigrated overseas, further weakening the community.
      are suffering under the Syrians like Jesus suffered under the Jews,"
      Tony Choukheir after watching the movie.  Yehya Sadowski, professor of
      politics at the American University of Beirut, says that the movie's
      "intensely Catholic" depiction of Jesus' fate would resonate with

      But the movie is also doing well in Muslim areas of Lebanon and in the
      of the Arab world.

      Islam reveres Jesus as an important prophet, although Muslims do not
      subscribe to the crucifixion or the resurrection. But the movie's
      popularity with many Muslims has more to do with hostility toward

      Some Muslims who have seen "The Passion" even equate the death of Jesus
      with the death of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the
      Palestinian Hamas movement, who was assassinated in Gaza last month.

      Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat recently viewed the film with Catholic
      leaders.  Afterwards an aide said, "The Palestinians are still daily
      exposed to the kind of pain Jesus was exposed to during his

      Comments like that have alarmed Jewish groups, who accuse Gibson of
      inflaming anti-Semitic sentiment.

      Yossi Klein Halevi, a fellow at Jerusalem's Shalem Center and an
      in several interfaith dialogue groups, saw "The Passion" while visiting
      United States.  He says he has serious concerns over how the film is
      perceived in the Arab world.

      "I have no doubt that the film is anti-Semitic both in intent and
      but I'm very wary of some Jewish organizations' reactions to it," he
      "It needs to be more nuanced. When an evangelical in Colorado Springs
      it, he doesn't see anti-Semitism.  But when Yasser Arafat sees it and
      it an important historic event, he's responding to that anti-Semitism.
      the fact that it's becoming a major hit in the Arab world, that has

      " 'The Passion' is where Mel Gibson and Yasser Arafat meet, and it isn't
      bound by a love of Jesus," he adds.

      The movie feeds the increasing anti-Semitism in the Arab world, says
      Professor Sadowski.

      "This was never the case traditionally but [anti-Semitism] is gradually
      becoming a factor in the Arab-Israeli conflict," he says.  "Many Muslims
      find the depiction of Jews in this film reassuring."

      Still, most moviegoers here say that charges of anti-Semitism have been
      inflated.  But for a society that has grown accustomed to seeing Arabs
      routinely depicted in movies as greedy oil sheikhs, unscrupulous
      businessmen, or terrorists, many view the portrayal of Jews as "bad
      as a refreshing change.

      "I think it has become accepted for Arabs to be shown as horrible
      but the Jews are never shown like that because they are so strong and
      powerful in Hollywood," says Rula Fayyad, a university researcher in
      Beirut.  "I don't think the film was anti-Semitic."

      * Staff writer Ilene Prusher contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

      www.csmonitor.com | Copyright (c) 2004 The Christian Science Monitor.
      rights reserved.

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    • Chidester, Dianne (Jefferson)
      You re welcome. ... From: Pamela Ford [mailto:pford@msjc.edu] Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 12:00 PM To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com Subject: RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 13, 2004
        RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World

        You’re welcome.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Pamela Ford [mailto:pford@...]
        Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 12:00 PM
        To: 'SACC-L@yahoogroups.com'
        Subject: RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World


        Thank you for sharing this. 

        Pamela Ford
        Chair, Department for World Studies
        Mt. San Jacinto College
        1499 N. State Street
        San Jacinto, CA 92583
        800.624-5561 x 1533
        909.487-6752 x 1533


      • Chidester, Dianne (Jefferson)
        Mark, I agree with you that Gibson s movie (at least what I ve seen from reports) and most of Christian history ignore Rome as a brutal occupier of these
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 14, 2004
          RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World

          Mark, I agree with you that Gibson’s movie (at least what I’ve seen from reports) and most of Christian history ignore Rome as a brutal occupier of these areas.  I think it’s interesting that Americans, in general, look to Rome as some kind of noble role model for democracy in spite of the facts.


          I sent the earlier message out because I thought the different interpretations through specific cultural lenses was interesting.


          Disclaimer:  I have not seen the movie and am not sure that I will.  Unlike my students who complain about the pig scene in “Dead Birds” but have no problem with violence in movies, I just don’t think I want to see the slow-motion torture.  I thought one of the more interesting descriptions of the movie I heard (and I can’t remember where I heard it) is that Gibson’s presentation is “like a religious snuff movie.”  As for Gibson’s profits, he has already built his own “traditional” Catholic church.  Evidently he’s following in his father’s footsteps and does not hold with Vatican 2.


          And, I couldn’t believe my ears (and yet I could) when Bush used the phrase “Muslims and brown-skinned people.”


          It snowed all day yesterday here in Louisville!  There was 5 inches of snow on the ground outside of the city.  Snow in April?  Yikes!!





          -----Original Message-----
          From: Lewine, Mark [mailto:mark.lewine@...]
          Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 12:10 AM
          To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com; SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: Spam (Message score):RE: [SACC-L] FW: THE PASSION a hit in Arab World


          Mel Gibson's movie, much like the milder but similar revisionist view depicted by "jesus christ superstar" is offensive to most Jews, including those of us in the anti-Zionist peace movement.  We are offended that so many people are so ready to continiously scapegoat jews to clean up the main actors of colonial European cultural history.  Excuse us, but when does the "objective" history of this period miss the brutal author of colonial control, Rome, which constantly brutalized and crucified many Jewish leaders of milleniarian movements, Jesus included. (Many had more impact at the time, by the way, but were missing the greatest promotinal agent of his time, Saul of Tarsus)  Is it not obvious to others besides Jews that the Christian historical revisionists start with the founding of the Christian religion, church, political center, and bank  IN ROME!!!!  Do we really need a Da Vinci code to decipher the obvious?  You know, Jesus probably didn't look norther Italian either!  What a shock! 


          Israel and the Jews in the rest of the world are NOT even in control of these events, boys and girls...the Illuminatii do not exist, less than 1% of the world's banks are owned by Jews and I am still waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear.  But on a note of reality, I JUST HEARD BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE AND HE JUST ABOUT ANNOUNCED THAT HIS "POLICY" FOR NOT ONLY IRAQ BUT THE WORLD IS A CRUSADE FOR 'FREEDOM' (read-US corporate control with right wing christian ideology) for all "Muslim and brown-skinned people" (he actually said that)  There is where the decisions are being made for the Middle East-DO NOT LET ZIONISM, CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM, OR THE ANTI-ZIONIST SCAPEGOATERS fool you...GE theater is still bringing you our history.


          one last thought-follow the money-where will Gibson's billion dollar profits go?



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