10/13/2012, 00.00
LEBANON - TURKEY

Lebanese Christians against a Turkish film that incites religious hatred

Costing 17 million dollars and acclaimed at home, Fetih 1453 speaks of the fall of Constantinople. For many Lebanese, the film is a provocation full of falsehoods. Church and religious parties have organized various events to promote a boycott. The director shows Christianity as a corrupt and violent religion. Silence on the massacres perpetrated by the Turks during the siege of the city.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The film about the fall of Constantinople "Fetih 1453" is accused of being historically inaccurate and worse, of inciting conflict between Christians and Muslims. With its release scheduled for September 27 in movie theaters in Beirut, the film has sparked harsh criticism from the Lebanese Christian community who are asking the public to boycott the film, which is now in danger of censorship. On September 29, the al-Mashriq party, formed by young Orthodox Christians, and other Christian associations organized a demonstration against the release of the Turkish, blockbuster which cost the enormous sum of 17 million dollars.

Directed by Faruk Aksoy, "Fetih 1453" describes the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453. Lasting 160 minutes, the film opens with a "flashback" in which Muhammad, in exile in Medina, promises happiness to those of his followers who conquer the Byzantine city, renamed Istanbul. The Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II takes up the appeal made by prophet 800 years ago and sets out to conquer the city. This historical episode that sees the power of the Byzantine Empire linked to a saying of the prophet is a source of pride for many Turks who in February crowded cinemas to enjoy the movie. However, many critics argue that it is full of glaring historical errors, which only serve to enhance the image of Islam and the political and religious leadership of the sultan.

Rodrigue Khoury, the founder of al-Mashriq, was among the first to have seen the movie premiere and was shocked by the lies it proposes. Khoury sent a detailed letter of the erroneous historical references to the Surete General, in charge of censorship in Lebanon, drawing the ire of many journalists who instead want the film shown in the name of freedom of expression. "The film - says Khoury - speaks of the battle between two empires, but in reality it is about a struggle between two civilizations: the Christian and Muslim. The first is described in grotesque as the source of all evil, the second is shown as perfect and incorruptible. "

For Lebanese youth, this film is nothing more than a propaganda operation to harness the political and religious conflict between Christians and Muslims. According to Fr. Abdo Abou Kassem, information officer for the Catholic Church of Lebanon, "the falsehoods shown by the authors of" Fetih 1453 "denigrate the Christian religion, presented as a corrupt faith." The priest said that in a scene Mehmed II entered the Hagia Sophia, among thousands of people who fled in terror. In a sign of protection the Sultan embraces and sooths a child, saying the conqueror will protect you. "We know this is not the case - said the priest - when the Sultan entered the basilica he gave orders to massacre all the Christians - over 3 thousand - and made his soldiers rape women and then converted it into a mosque." Fr. Kassem said that this version is supported by historical documents and can not be distorted for propagandistic purposes.

The controversy over "Fetih 1453" comes a few weeks after protests against the blasphemous film about Muhammad and the cartoons published by the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The protests have spread around the world, causing more than 50 deaths and hundreds of injuries. After these things the Muslim religious authorities, but also those of other faiths, launched an appeal to the UN to put an a limit to freedom of expression against religions. However, many Lebanese journalists and film critics are opposed to censorship proposed by the Christian parties. The association "journalists against violence," has called for the unconditional release of the film. "If some people believe that there are prejudices or historical errors - says the association- they can have their day in court and expose the parties concerned, including the Turkish authorities." "The debate - they add- must be after we have watched the movie, not before, and all parties must respect the freedom of expression."

 

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