The Danish director Susanne Bier is now shooting a new movie in Kenya, titled Hævnen (The Revenge). The movie primarily takes place in Denmark and depicts a young boy’s problematic relationship with his father, who works in a refugee camp as a doctor.
Part of the story touches on the war in Sudan’s Darfur region. The movie tracks refugees from camps in Sudan to their new lives in a small Denmark town.
Bier says the movie has nothing to do with Islam.
But the Sudanese government has released a statement saying Bier’s movie aims to represent “non-existing conditions in Darfur”, and that the movie is being made in the same spirit as the Islamophobic Dutch film Fitna, as well as the Danish Muhammad-cartoons.
Danish PhD-fellow and expert in Sudanese Affairs, Anders Hastrup, stresses that the Sudanese government takes every opportunity to re-describe the conflict in Darfur as a conflict between the Islamic and Western world. Hastrup says: “The Sudanese government is very vigilant and everything Danish is already demonized because of the Muhammad-cartoons so when a Danish director is making a movie about something related to Sudan the Sudanese government blows it up and tries to foster distrust to everything Western among the Sudanese population”.
The Danish minister of Foreign Affairs has answered the Sudanese government by saying there is freedom of speech and freedom of artistic expression in Denmark. He underlines that no other Muslim country has provided a critique of Bier’s movie.
Jack Straw, Britain’s Justice Secretary, wrote a letter of introduction for his friend and political ally, Lord Patel of Blackburn, who persuaded the emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani, to spend £1.5m, half the total needed to build the five-story mosque.
Liberal Democrats in Blackburn, Mr. Straw’s constituency, claimed the Labour party had used the donation to the Bicknell Street mosque in order to garner votes from local Muslims.
Haras Rafiq, co-founder of the Sufi Muslim council, said large foreign donors expected mosques to reflect their beliefs, and this was squeezing out moderate Muslims. “This has been a huge problem for the last decade. Some of the biggest mosques and institutions in the UK have been funded by foreign money and have been proven to be portraying extremist viewpoints.
The Emir of Qatar has an image as a pro-western reformist and modernizer and his country is the base for a significant US military presence. However, Qatar has also provided aid to Hamas and offered support to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood and to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan who has been indicted for war crimes in Darfur.
The northern Italian city of Turin is offering 300 euros per month as a subsidy to families who host refugees from the war-torn Darfur region in Sudan. The aim of the project is to encourage families or persons to host one or two refugees for six to twelve months, so that the refugees can achieve a certain level of autonomy. Most of the refugees are between the ages of 25-28. Of the 420 refugees and asylum seekers hosted by Turin, only 148 are eligible for the program, due to limited space.
The scandal involving French charity Zoe’s Ark is tangled in a web of good intentions gone awry. While the organization pointed to the paralysis of diplomacy in Darfur leaving thousands upon thousands of children displaced and without being in the care of a nuclear family, it turns out that none of the 103 children were orphans in the Western sense – and were removed by the French workers from their own community and familial networks. In addition, in Muslim countries like Chad and Sudan where family matters are goverened by Islamic law, Western concepts of adoption are essentially forbidden by religious edict.
Members of the French charity Zoe’s Ark were detained as they were preparing to fly 103 children out of the Chadian city of Abeche. The plane’s crew, all Spanish citizens, are also being held by Chadian authorities. The children, largely from Sudan’s Darfur region, were intended to be smuggled to Europe by the charity workers – justified by the Geneva convention and international law, according to an update on the Zoe’s Ark website. The Chadian government is currently conducting investigations on the smuggling attempt.
A peace concert in London Sunday aims to focus British Muslims on the bloody conflict in Darfur but also symbolises efforts to unite the community amid widespread suspicion of Islam here, organisers say. “This is really something monumental, it has never been done before,” said Sami Yusuf, a 27-year-old British star who often sings about Islam and is due to top the bill at Wembley Arena in north-west London.