Moustapha Akkad: A Martyr in Amman
The terror attacks in Jordan took the life of a filmmaker who used his fame to set the record straight on Islam's true message.
Although neither "The Message" nor Akkad's "Lion of the Desert" (about Omar Mukhtar, the hero of the Libyan resistance to Italian colonization during the Mussolini era) were box-office successes in the U.S., they were popular within the American Muslim community. He also produced historical documentaries in the Arab world, in collaboration with major Arab literati and intellectuals, and his efforts for the past 15 years had been divided between film projects on Islamic Spain and Saladin. Sean Connery had already agreed to star in the latter film.
The intense coverage of Akkad's death by Arab and Muslim media vividly illustrated his stature as the quintessential spokesperson for positive and moderate Islam. The title of Talal Salman's November 12 op-ed in the Lebanese Assafir, "The Assassination of the Message," echoes the widespread view among Arabic press editorials and op-eds that Akkad's death does great harm to Muslims' attempts to defend the true message of Islam. And the London-based pan-Arab al-Quds al-Arabi ran an elegiac cartoon of Akkad on November 12 with the heading "Those who have distorted the message killed the father of `The Message.' " These sentiments were perhaps best represented by Syrian actor Ayman Zeidan's statement to Syria's al-Thawra on November 15: "[Akkad] was able to be the true ambassador for Arab and Islamic affairs."