The producer of the blockbuster trilogies “The Matrix” and “The Lord of the Rings,” Barrie Osborne, is now working on a $200 million movie about the founder of Islam, the Prophet Mohammed. Helping to guide the project is Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a radical Muslim Brotherhood theologian. One quick look at this so-called “moderate” should raise serious questions among those investing in Osborne’s film and spark a call to boycott should his involvement continue.
Osborne describes his film as “an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam.” He has chosen to use the Qatar-based Alnoor Holdings production company, which has decided to have Sheikh al-Qaradawi “oversee all aspects of the shoot,” according to The Guardian. If Osborne’s goal is to combat anti-Muslim bigotry and portray a positive image of Islam, then the influence of al-Qaradawi on the film will only do the opposite.
Al-Qaradawi is only a bit less radical than Al-Qaeda. He has repeatedly expressed support for Hamas, a terrorist group that was birthed from the Muslim Brotherhood organization to which he belongs. The Israelis believe he has directly financed Hamas by donating $21 million to a “charity” knowing that it’d be used to help the group buy land. In November 2008, the Treasury Department blacklisted a network of charities called the Union of Good for acting as fronts for Hamas. Al-Qaradawi serves as the group’s president.
He was condemned by the Islamic Council of Norway and imams in Denmark and Sweden in February of this year after the Middle East Media Research Institute translated remarks he made the previous month.
“The only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life in martyrdom,” he said.
Al-Qaradawi doesn’t even bother to hide his anti-Semitism by replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionist” or some other term to differentiate between Israeli soldier and civilian, or between Israeli Jews and non-Israeli Jews. He even accuses Jews of exaggerating Hitler’s crimes and describes his treatment of them as Allah’s judgment—a judgment that he hopes will be carried out by Muslims the next time around.
“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jewish] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them—even though they exaggerated this issue—he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers,” he said.
He also has a long record of preaching extremism, for which he is banned from entering the United States and United Kingdom. He supports terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, called on Sunnis to support Shiite Hezbollah during the 2006 war in Lebanon, has praised Saddam Hussein, has called for a boycott of American and Israeli goods, and supports establishing Sharia-based governance. He says that those trying to convert people from Islam should be executed and homosexuals should be punished. He supports the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and says Muslims are required to fight on the side of the Taliban.
Muslim organizations in the West that look to al-Qaradawi as a respected religious guide will undoubtedly stitch together quotes about his condemnation of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and his support of democratic reform in the Middle East, but these quotes don’t tell the full story. He condemns the 9/11 attacks, but signed a letter describing them as a “fabricated drama” carried out by the Israelis and American co-conspirators. He called on Iraqis to participate in elections, but that’s because he felt that doing so would help stop the “American Satans.” He’s spoken in support of freedom, but he views freedom as only being achievable through the implementation of Sharia law and wants an Islamic economic system to replace Western capitalism. He says he is for peace, but his vision of peace involves the destruction of Israel. He says that Islam has “no problem with Judaism” but says that “our war with the Jews is in the name of Islam.”
When Osborne said his film was going to “educate people about the true meaning of Islam,” he probably didn’t have this in mind. This needs to become a controversy large enough to grab his attention and make him realize the character of the man that has become involved in his film. Moviegoers from around the world need to make their voices heard: Choose al-Qaradawi or choose us.