LOS ANGELES – In these uneasy times, you’d think a Hollywood epic about the Crusades would spark a major revival of hard feelings over the medieval religious wars in the Middle East. Yet Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven” is hitting theaters in comparative quiet, without the sort of uproar provoked by President Bush’s post-Sept. 11 “crusade” gaffe or Mel Gibson’s crucifixion saga “The Passion of the Christ.”
If you listen closely amid that comparative quiet, you can hear Khaled Abou El Fadl’s reputation slipping down the drain.
There were uneasy rumblings among Arab groups that obtained an early treatment of the script a year or so ago. They found the film potentially fraught with stereotypes about 12th century Muslims fighting Christians for control of Jerusalem, negative images that might have inflamed anti-Muslim sentiment.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee was among those worried groups, but half a dozen members came away greatly relieved after a “Kingdom of Heaven” screening arranged for them by Scott.
“It’s one of the better representations of Muslims we’ve seen out of Hollywood,” said Laila Al-Qatami, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based group. “We thought that he did a good job tackling a potentially volatile subject and avoided doing a simplified, stereotyped story of Muslim vs. Christian.”…
For the real story of the Crusades, watch for my forthcoming book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades (Regnery), which is now in the loving hands of a Regnery editor and should be out this summer.