Ramadan TV Special Sends Anti-Terrorism Message

A scene from the drama Renegades

In a scene from the drama Renegades, a Muslim mother who lost her son in a London bombing makes a plea for Muslims to unite against terrorism. Courtesy Najdat Anzour hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy Najdat Anzour
Syrian director Najdat Anzour, on location, is known for his controversial blockbusters.

Syrian director Najdat Anzour, on location for Renegades, is known for his controversial blockbusters. Last year's Ramadan special tackled al-Qaida and radical recruiters in Saudi Arabia. Deborah Amos, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Deborah Amos, NPR
A makeup artist transforms an actor into an Afghan warrior.

A makeup artist transforms an actor into an Afghan warrior for Renegades. Deborah Amos, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Deborah Amos, NPR

The intense debate over the consequences of Sept. 11 in this country is matched by an intense struggle for hearts and minds in the Arab world.

The conversations across the Middle East are loud and often heated, but they go mostly unnoticed in the West. The debates range from religious extremism and the morality of suicide bombers to the dangers of al-Qaida.

Syrian television director Najdat Anzour is known for his controversial blockbusters which run during the holy month of Ramadan. It's a time when Muslims fast during daylight hours and gather at night to feast with family and friends. That means the biggest primetime viewing audience across the Arab world.

Last year's Ramadan special tackled al-Qaida and radical recruiters in Saudi Arabia. Some 50 million viewers watched. This year, Anzour is attacking terrorism from a different angle and in 10 different locations. His drama is set in places that figure into the West's war on terrorism, dramatizing events that affect the Muslim world.

Anzour's message is not subtle: Terrorists are cold-blooded killers who also kill Muslims.

It is a sentiment expressed in many ways across the Middle East. When a sniper opened fire on Western tourists in the Jordanian capital earlier this month, bloggers shared their disgust and fears.

One blogger wrote, "It seems unreal to me that the world was ever safe, walking into a mall without being frisked, not having to look nervously when a bearded man walks by."

Support for terrorism is falling among Arab and European Muslims, according to the 2006 Pew Global Attitudes opinion poll. Syrian director Najdat Anzour is dramatizing that opinion for a mass audience in his Ramadan special.

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