Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Filmaker killed in terror bombing praised in Iran "as great man of Islam" -awarded "medal for nationalist stances' by Syria -honored by Assad
Filmaker killed in terror bombing praised in Iran "as great man of Islam" -awarded "medal for nationalist stances' by Syria -honored by Assad
From Michael Myers to Muhammed :Akkad's slasher flic series provided fame and funds used to propagate Islam
November 29, 2005
Poster for Akkad's film on the story of Islam - "The Message"
Poster for Akkad's Halloween film series about a psychopathic killer with a message: On Halloween night, a little boy in a clown costume kills his sister after watching her have sex with her boyfriend Upon being released from a mental hospital he comes back 'to kill young people thinking of having sex'.http://www.pluggedinonline.com/movies/movies/a0000151.cfm
MIM:There is mounting evidence the Mustapha Akkad, who was killed with his daughter Rina in the Jordan terrorist attacks was an Islamist. The latest proof can be seen in an article which reports that Akkad, a Syrian born Muslim who moved to the United States, who was lauded by Muslims for his Hollywood films on the Life of Muhammed "Messenger of God" and a film honoring the Muslim defeat of the Italians in Libya. The Iranian Minister of Cinema culture also noted that Akkad was planning to make a film about Salahuddin 'which would have been an interpretation of events in Palestine". Akkad was buried in Syria and it was reported that:
"On Saturday morning, Jordanian Prime Minister Adnan Badran, and several of his cabinet ministers, accompanied the hearse that carried Akkad's body back to the Syrian border.
In the wake of the sickening blasts, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad conferred Akkad with the nation's most prestigious civil medal - to award "his Arab nationalist stances...". (see full article below)
MIM: Not to be outdone by the Syrians, the terrorist entity Iran announced an Akkad commemoration and the Iran press reported that :
"...Akkad, a genius who spent his lifetime for a holy cause of presenting the true image and identity of Islam, died a martyr after sustaining injuries in the terrorist bombing..." (see full article below).
MIM:According to Al Jazeera Akkad had been unable to get funding for the project and the story line indicates why Islamists are so fond of Akkad.
"...He (Akkad),had already got the iconic Sean Connery on board to star as the legendary Kurdish hero born in Iraq who would reclaim Jerusalem from the Crusaders in the 12th century.
"..Akkad thought the invasion of Iraq was analogous to the political climate in the 11th century before Jerusalem was sacked. He said the current geopolitical chessboard reminded him of all the Muslim city-states which colluded with the Crusaders and allowed not only the fall of Jerusalem, but also led to Muslim infighting.
He believed he was unable to gain Arab financial backing because the period leading up to the rise of Salahuddin too closely mirrored current events in the Arab world.
The last I heard was that Akkad had found some financing and that Sean Connery was interested in the project".
MIM: Akkad's film about the defeat of the French by Libya also shows that the director had ties to Islamists since it was partially funded by Libya at a time when the country was considered an enemy of the United States for it's support and harboring of terrorists.
"...The story of the legendary Libyan teacher who took up arms against the Italian invaders in the 1920s, Lion of the Desert was in Akkad's words, his finest achievement as a filmmaker.
With a star-studded cast including Oliver Reed as Italian General Graziani, Rod Steiger as Mussolini and Irene Papas (also a star of The Message) as Mabrouka, the film won rave reviews in the Arab world but received little attention in Hollywood.
Akkad told me the film fell prey to the popular politics of the times; Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi had provided some financial backing to the film and allowed it to be filmed in Libya, which was considered an enemy of the US in the late 1970s.
The animosity between US president Ronald Reagan's administration and Libya in the 1980s meant the film got very little play in American theatres or on television networks..."
"...Although a naturalised American citizen, Akkad always kept Syria, and specifically his birth town of Aleppo, sacrosanct. I had asked him what it meant to be so far away and he had replied: "Aleppo is never far away, it is always in the heart".
He shared fond memories of Syria, its people, the way he was brought up as a Muslim and as an Arab, the parables told to him by his father.
He was very passionate in describing his love for his religion and Arab causes and his disdain for terrorism.
Ironically, it would be terrorism that would end his life..."
MIM: Akkad's sister Leila, said she was "against terrorist attacks on civilians" which implies that she shares the view of many Lebanese, who approved of suicide bombings by Al Qaeda directed at Westerners.
MIM:Akkad was honored by the ADC (the American Arab anti Discrimination Committee, and other groups pushing a radical Islamist agenda.
He was also praised by his friend Khalid Abou Fadl who was labelled as a "steath Islamist" by Dr. Daniel Pipes. It is worth noting that Abou Fadl's remarks about Akkad show him to be a 'stealth Islamist" because he refers to the assimilated Akkad's death as " a loss to the Muslim world" and tacitly ignores his American citizenship or decades of residence in the country where he became wealthy and famous.
"It's devastating," said UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, a longtime friend of Akkad. "Terrorism that claims to be Islamic-motivated has killed so many of the gifted assets of the Muslim world..."
. MIM:Ironically, Akkad had once said in an interview that he resented the fact that in films, Muslims are always associated with terrorism,
"...and complained in 1998: "in Hollywood, Muslims are only terrorists" (Quoted in Laurie Goodstein, "Hollywood Now Plays Cowboys and Arabs," The New York Times http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/235
MIM: Akkad had this to say about "The Lion of the Desert," which told of the Libyan revolt against the occupying Italian army.
"It was the first time American audiences applauded for an Arab," Akkad told The Times in 1991.
MIM:Akkad's death in a suicide bombing is further proof that art imitates life, and the death of a man who protested Muslims being seen as terrorists by one, also sheds light on how Islamists can use Hollywood to make money catering to the lowest common denominator of American popular culture, (which they claim to despise), and wage Jihad through Da'wa at the same time.
LONDON, November 24 (IranMania) - A commemoration ceremony will be held on Thursday for the late Syrian film director Mustafa Akkad, reported Fars news agency.
The ceremony, which will be attended by Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for cinema affairs Mohammad Reza Jafari, directors and personnel of the ministry?s Cinema Department, managing director of Cinema House, filmmakers and those involved in the film industry, is being held in cooperation with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and a number of other film institutes.
Akkad, 68, an internationally celebrated film director is well known for his box office hits ?Muhammad (PBUH), Messenger of God and Omar Al-Mokhtar, a Libyan revolutionary who rose up against Italian occupation.
Akkad was killed in a terrorist bombing of a hotel in Amman, Jordan along with his daughter Rima, 30.
Akkad, a genius who spent his lifetime for a holy cause of presenting the true image and identity of Islam, died a martyr after sustaining injuries in the terrorist bombing.
Islam is averse to such horrific acts and has never endorsed the killing of innocent people. This is exactly what Akkad had been working on for years on end.
More recently he was working on a new masterpiece Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi, a movie that will give the actual interpretation of the current events in Palestine.
The ceremony to pay tribute to the great man of Islam will be held at Palestine Cinema at 18:30 p.m.
The Syrian-born producer of the Halloween horror films was yesterday given a home town hero's burial, after his slaying by suicide bombers in Jordan last Wednesday.
In a prime example of how good Muslim people are being mowed down by terrorists, 69 year old Moustapha Akkad was killed when bomb attacks hit three U.S.-operated hotels in the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Aside from producing the world-famous Halloween series, Akkad also directed The Message - a 1976 film about the prophet Muhammad - which was widely acclaimed in the Middle East.
In 1981 he directed Lion of the Desert, starring Oliver Reed, Anthony Quinn and Rod Steiger, which told the story of a Muslim rebel who fought against Italy's World War II conquest of Libya.
The producer-director was attending a wedding in one of the three hotels struck by suicide bombers. His 34-year-old daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, was also among the 57 people who perished in the explosion. She was buried on Thursday in Tripoli, the home town of her Lebanese husband.
Akkad, who lived in Los Angeles, died on Friday in the Jordanian hospital where he was being treated for injuries sustained in the hotel bombing.
On Saturday morning, Jordanian Prime Minister Adnan Badran, and several of his cabinet ministers, accompanied the hearse that carried Akkad's body back to the Syrian border.
In the wake of the sickening blasts, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad conferred Akkad with the nation's most prestigious civil medal - to award "his Arab nationalist stances".
Akkad's body was laid to rest in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where he was born and raised before he moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s. He took a degree in theatre arts from UCLA, then started work as a production assistant for director Sam Peckinpah on the 1962 Western, Ride the High Country.
Akkad to Be Buried Today in Aleppo Dahi Hassan, Arab News
DAMASCUS, 13 November 2005 Syria yesterday mourned the death of internationally renowned and Syrian-born Hollywood filmmaker Moustapha Al-Akkad who died in hospital from serious injuries sustained in last week's hotel bomb blasts in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Senior officials, representatives of cultural and art groups and organizations, media people, and hundreds of Akkad's fans received his body at the Syrian-Jordanian border yesterday.
The body was taken straight to the Damascus-based Al-Shami Private Hospital and it will be moved to Akkad's home town Aleppo early in the morning today where he will be buried.
Offering his condolences to Akkad's family yesterday, Syrian People's Assembly (Parliament) Speaker Mahmoud Al-Abrash said that the masterpieces done by Syria's greatest film director had crystallized national, Arab and human causes and values. "His death is a great loss to his country and the whole world," Al-Abrash said.
Akkad, one of the few Arab filmmakers known in the West, had been staying in Grand Hayat hotel, one of three luxury hotels hit by suicide bombers in Amman on Wednesday, killing at least 56 people, including his 34-year-old daughter Rima, and wounding around 300 others.
For his part, Syrian Minister of Culture Dr. Mahmoud Al-Sayyed expressed his deep sorrow for the death of Akkad and said that he was the victim of terrorism, which is targeting all human civilization.
Minister of Information Dr. Mahdi Dhakhlallah said that the demise of Akkad in bomb blasts in Amman showed that terrorists do not differentiate between one and another when they decide to strike.
A day before Akkad's death, President Bashar Assad directed Syria's Ambassador to Jordan Ali Hammoud to visit the injured Syrian film director in the hospital in Amman and to express condolences for the death of his daughter Rima on behalf of the president and the Syrian people. Akkad's sister, Leila, said the world was saddened by the tragic death of her brother and called for an end to terrorist attacks on civilians.
Akkad was executive producer of the Halloween horror films and directed a 1976 English-language movie, The Message, about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) starring Anthony Quinn.
In his controversial epic about early Islam, Akkad faced the challenge of shooting a movie where viewers neither see nor hear the main character because of Islam's ban on images of the Prophet. Quinn played the Prophet's uncle Hamza.
Akkad, who spent the recent Eid Al-Fitr holiday with his relatives and friends in his home town Aleppo, was in Jordan to attend a wedding party. He was scheduled to go back to Syria where he was supposed to be honored by the Damascus International Theatre Festival.
Born in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo in July in 1930, Akkad also directed the 1981 film Lion of the Desert', in which Quinn starred as Libyan anti-colonial fighter Omar Mukhtar.
After finishing his secondary studies in Syria, Akkad left for America in 1950.
He was preparing to produce a new movie on famous leader Salahuddin, who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
The body of his daughter Rima Akkad Monla was flown to Lebanon and buried in Tripoli after Friday prayers in the city's main mosque. Her husband, Ziad Monla and other relatives were joined at the funeral by former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
'Halloween' producer, slain in Jordan terror attack, depicted Islam positively in other work.
By Anna Gorman and Elaine Dutka, Times Staff Writers
Within Hollywood, Moustapha Akkad was the little-known producer of the "Halloween" horror movie series.
But within the Arab American world, he was the famous filmmaker whose movies defied stereotypes and portrayed Islam in a positive light. On Friday, the community mourned Akkad, 72, who, along with his daughter, was among at least 56 people killed in suicide bombings at three hotels in Amman, Jordan.
"It's devastating," said UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, a longtime friend of Akkad. "Terrorism that claims to be Islamic-motivated has killed so many of the gifted assets of the Muslim world. Here it claims another remarkably creative, intelligent and passionate humanitarian."
Akkad, who was born in Syria, came to Los Angeles in 1954 with only a few hundred dollars in his pocket. He got off a bus, heard a man speaking Arabic and asked directions to Westwood. While studying film at UCLA, he worked as a houseboy in a Beverly Hills home, living in a room behind the kitchen. His entry into Hollywood, with two lavish sagas, "The Lion of the Desert" and "The Message," capped a Frank Capra-like story line.
Though the "Halloween" movies were a successful franchise that spanned decades, Akkad, who lived in Brentwood, saw them as the bread and butter that helped finance his historic and religious movies, Abou El Fadl said.
"He was known as Mr. Halloween he wore that cloak reluctantly," said Paul Freeman, who attended UCLA with Akkad and produced four of the "Halloween" movies. "That didn't fit the image he'd want to be remembered by, but he accepted it because so many people enjoyed the movies."
Akkad was far more passionate about his other work, friends and colleagues said.
He produced and directed "The Message," a 1976 film that depicted the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Akkad filmed two versions of every scene, one with an English-speaking cast, the other with an Arabic-speaking one.
When the movie opened, it stirred controversy and prompted one Muslim group to take more than 100 people hostage in Washington, D.C. Five years later, Akkad produced "The Lion of the Desert," which told of the Libyan revolt against the occupying Italian army. "It was the first time American audiences applauded for an Arab," Akkad told The Times in 1991.
Hollywood films have long portrayed Arabs as "bombers, billionaires and belly dancers," said Anthony Saidy, interim president of the local chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which honored Akkad for his work.
Irwin Yablans, who partnered with Akkad on "The Message" and "Halloween," said they worked well together, despite having widely different backgrounds. "Here was a Jew and an Arab, and we had tremendous success," Yablans said.
Akkad was steeped in Middle Eastern history but was not involved in politics or deeply religious, Yablans and others said. But he didn't hesitate to talk about either subject.
"He'd like to be remembered as a guy who tried to do things to show that the Arab world wasn't all evil that there was goodness to the religion," Freeman said. "For all practical purposes, he was the only Arab producer in Hollywood, at least of that stature. He was the David Lean of the Middle East; he was regarded like that in that part of the world."
John Carpenter, director of the first three "Halloween" films, said Akkad was a creative guy with a passion for film.
"Moustapha did a great thing for me when I was a young man with just two features to my credit," the director said. "He let me make a low-budget movie, 'Halloween,' with complete creative control."
Carpenter said he wondered why Akkad didn't direct later in life. "His movies were pretty ambitious, and I wonder if they'd been better received, if he might have pursued that course," he said.
Rick Rosenthal, who directed "Halloween 2" and "Halloween Resurrection," said Akkad was a "very urbane, polished man with a twinkle in his eye. There's a breed of producer, maybe more old school than current day, who are cosmopolitan and charming. He was old-school."
Akkad maintained close ties with the Arab world. Former Jordanian Prime Minister Tahir Masry was a good friend, and had eaten lunch with the producer the day of the bombings. Masry visited Akkad at his hospital bedside before he died.
"He had a good sense of what he wanted to do," Masry said. "He wanted to establish an Arab cinema production company to make big productions about Arab history and historical figures."
Among the projects that Akkad envisioned were a biography of legendary Muslim sultan and conqueror Saladin. Although Akkad lobbied Arab business and political leaders for funding and logistical support, including a personal audience with the emir of Qatar, he became discouraged and all but abandoned his efforts, Masry said.
Akkad traveled to the Middle East often, most frequently to Lebanon to visit his 34-year-old daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, a USC graduate who married a Lebanese man and had settled in Beirut.
Akkad and his daughter were attending a wedding at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman when the bombings occurred Wednesday. She died immediately and Akkad died of his injuries Friday morning.
"Rima was his everything," said Christi Sinkus, a friend and office manager at Akkad's company, Trancas International Films. "We knew that if his injuries didn't kill him, the news of his daughter would."
Akkad also had three sons two from his first marriage to Patricia Akkad, and one from his second marriage to Suha Akkad. He will be buried in his hometown of Allepo, Syria, friends said.
Amar Mansour, a close friend who lives in San Diego, said Akkad was a generous man who spent his free time with his family and friends and doing charity work. "The community is devastated," she said Friday.
MIM: Fifth columnist Juan Cole cobbled this bizarre eulogy together for Akkad iand compared the situation in Iraq to Akkad's Halloween 'slasher' films. Cole also argues that the Halloween film protaganist who kills his sister for having sex is actually based on the Muslim concept of honor killings.
The Strange Death of Moustapha Akkad; Zarqawi and "Halloween"
The ironies and dangers of globalization are tragically epitomized in the death last week of Hollywood director Moustapha Akkad at the Radisson SAS in Amman at the hands of an Iraqi suicide bomber. Akkad was there with his daughter to attend a wedding.
Akkad was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1930. Syria was at that time under French rule, and so he was a child of empire, with all the ambivalences of identity such experiences inspire. At the age of 19, in 1949, he came to the United States, and studied theater arts at UCLA. He later also did a Master of Arts degree at the University of Southern California. He got his start in Hollywood as a production assistant for Sam Peckinpah on a Western, "Ride the High Country," in 1962. Peckinpah's fascination with violence and ambiguity would work itself out in Akkad's own oeuvre in unexpected ways.
Akkad produced the 1976 film, "The Message," starring Anthony Quinn, an attempt to tell the story of early Islam to a Western audience. He faced enormous problems as a cinematographer, given that the Arab Muslim tradition is iconoclastic (condemnatory of images), especially with regard to the Prophet Muhammad. Akkad therefore had to find ways of suggesting the Prophet Muhammad's presence without actually showing him, such as the shadow he cast. But even showing the Prophet's shadow was denounced by some Muslim groups. The film caused a sensation when its screening provoked the taking of hostages by members of the Nation of Islam, a small African-American sectarian group that is heterodox and had little connection to mainstream Islam. Akkad was confused as to how the Muslim world could not recognize the act of communication he was attempting to perform. As an in-between man, he faced the hostility both of bigotted non-Muslims and of hidebound fundamentalists from his own community. His artistic career played out in the arena of globalizing alienation.
He found it difficult to get funding for the religious films he dreamed of, and in 1978 turned to producing the first of the "Halloween" horror flics. (In this he resembles Richard Gere, who suffers through those romantic comedies so that he can make his serious, Buddhist-inspired ethical films.) The plot of the first Halloween movie had to do with Michael Myers, who as a child of 6 murdered his sister with a butcher knife after she had had sex with her boyfriend. This murder occurred on Halloween. He was institutionalized for 15 years, but then escaped from the sanatarium. He then began to stalk three teenaged girls, even as his psychiatrist and the sheriff attempt to track him down and prevent him from committing further murders.
The anxieties around the Halloween films are, whether it is by coincidence or deliberate, very Middle Eastern. Michael Myers's killing of his sister echoed the problem of honor killings in the Arab world, where lack of chastity in teenaged girls so dishonors the men of the family that they are sometimes driven to restore their honor by doing away with the girl. (The practice is coded as rural and hotheaded in Arab culture, but its insanity is underlined in the American context.) Myers's stalking of teenaged girls reproduces that free-floating anxiety about their sexuality and freedom of movement, and the dangers these hold for the masculinity of men. Myers the horror monster is produced through an exaggeration of these anxieties to the point of homicidal rage. Of course, even without any Middle Eastern context, the films are about alienation and the isolation of the individual, a distillation of the neuroses of American suburbia.
Even as he was scaring teenaged couples into hugging tight in American theaters, Akkad was continuing to pursue his dramatic vision. In 1981 he released "The Lion of the Desert," which centers on the heroic character of the Libyan anti-colonial activist Omar Mukhtar, who fought the Italian empire in his country during the 1920s. Akkad attempted to appeal to Western audiences who might not ordinarily identify with a Muslim populist by configuring him as a rugged individualist fighting Mussolini's fascist troops. Akkad's timing was, however, execrable. Only two years after the Iranian Revolution, American audiences just could not establish a connection with Mukhtar's character. One reviewer (was it in the New York Times?) dismissed the film as "ayatollahs on horseback." One has the scary apprehension that the Americans actually identified more with the goose-stepping fascists than with the oppressed Libyans.
At the end of his life, Akkad was gathering his energies to do an epic film about Saladin (Salahu'd-Din al-Ayyubi), the medieval Muslim warrior who expelled the European Crusaders from the Middle East. (American audiences were recently reminded of Saladin in the film "Kingdom of Heaven," which tells the story of the fall of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem before Saladin's armies.) Whether Akkad could have induced Westerners to identify with Saladin remains an open question.
The postmodern two-track film career of Akkad, wherein he attempted to give American audiences horror films about a serial murderer on the one hand, and serious dramas about the Middle Eastern fight against European domination on the other, came to an end in an Amman hotel where both themes melded.
The "Monotheism and Holy War" organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, recently renamed "al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia," is dedicated to serial murder on a scale that dwarfs Michael Myers's wildest dreams. The playbook of insurgency requires grisly acts of terror that help to provoke a guerrilla war, which in turn can be transformed into a civil war, destabilizing the old order and paving the way to a coup by the terrorists, who represent themselves as the only force able to restore order. They represent themselves as fighting against American occupation, but the vast majority of their victims are innocent civilians. This horrific form of anti-imperialism targets the innocent relentlessly. Little children are blown to bits, with tiny fingers and feet hurled across public squares from furiously burning ice cream shops.
The guerrilla war in Iraq has claimed a unique cinematic voice of transnational modernity, who had explored the terror of psychopathology and the angst of alienation, as well as the history of anti-colonial movements.
The Iraq conflict has become a bad horror film. It has killed the grandfather of the "Halloween" movies. And it has snuffed out the man who wanted to bring real Muslim heroes such as the Prophet Muhammad, Omar Mukhtar and Saladin to American film-going audiences. Now, his last project will remain unachieved. Saladin was a Kurd from what is now northern Iraq, and he defeated the Crusaders with a legendary chivalry that inspired their respect.
Zarqawi's henchmen inspire only horror, not respect. They have no chivalry, only bloodthirstiness. They are Michael Myers, not Saladin.
Moustapha Akkad was an American voice as well as a Muslim one. We needed his ability to communicate one culture to the other. His death diminishes us all, and signals the nightfall of a decade-long "Halloween" of the horrific sort for Iraq and for the United States.