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Anti-Islam Movies and the Clash of Soft Power ~Omonaijablog

By Rasheed Abubakar 
There was a time in this country when people were scared to eat Akara made with palm oil because of the fear of being initiated into witchcraft. Where did that strange thought come from? Yoruba movies, especially the late Alhaji Yekini Ajileye's epic Yoruba hits such as Koto Orun, Koto Aiye, etc between the late 80s and mid-90s. 

Those movies had negative effects on the production and sales of palm oil and by extension, the akara elepo delicacy, especially in the southwest region of Nigeria. Not quite sure if the fear has been defeated now that the Nollywood's storylines are no longer glorifying issues associated with witchcraft. Evidently, this was one of Nollywood's soft power back then.

When it comes to the best use of soft power in movies, Hollywood and Bollywood, the two biggest movie industries in the world, are at the forefront. Interestingly, while using their powerful propaganda machine to launder their image internationally by creating many unimaginable and unrealistic heroes in their movies, they both have a  common victim which is ISLAM. 

Fear of the imminent Islamic resurgence made the West and their Hindu counterpart resort to investing heavily in the soft power; by churning out anti-Islamic movies. They made the world believe that there is nothing 'peaceful' about Islam and its adherents are fanatical extremists. That is why they portray Muslim freedom fighters in Palestine or Kashmir as terrorists in their movies. To them, Islamic symbols such as the Hijab, Niqob and beards are signs of terrorism.

Little wonder why 'Abu Nasir', the leader of the terrorist gang in 'Mission Istanbul', one of such propaganda Bollywood films carried a long beard similar to that of Osama Bin Laden. In the 2008 film, Aljazeera suddenly became Aljahoda, a purported mouth piece of the Muslim terrorists, similar to terrorism allegations levelled against Aljazeera by the West and the Arabs. In reality, Aljazeera is the mouthpiece of the oppressed Muslims in the world. It has given voice to the voiceless Muslims in Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Myanmar and the Uyghur Muslims in faraway China.

Sadly, some Muslims fall for this negative portrayal, just like many Yoruba erroneously believed in the Akara elepo superstition. Let us assume the akara elepo myth is real, where is our Iman (faith) as believers in Allah's power?. Of course, it has become crystal clear that the terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, DAESH etc. are using stolen identities. Their activities are antithetical to the prestige of Islam, the last hope for humanity. There are also strong indications that these so-called Islamic jihadists are the creations of the enemies of Islam as of the aged-long war against Islam and the Muslims. So, it behoves to say, the Muslim world is under attack from all angles.

What's the way forward? There is a need for the Ummatul islam to invest in the movie industry and counter the propaganda against Islam and the Muslims. At this stage, I will say it is necessary and I won't be mincing words to declare anyone who goes against this lofty idea as an enemy of Islam. I am one of the believers in the movie industry as a potent weapon for Da'wah in the 21st century.

Apart from the classic Islamic movies, such as The Message, Lion of the Deserts and of recent, Umar series, some countries are fighting back by churning out fantastic Islamic faith movies. For instance, NBC, an Arab's most watched TV Channel,  released 'Gharabeeb', meaning, Black Crows, a TV series that exposed the many lies and propaganda of DAESH (ISIS). The series, was watched on TV by millions of Arabs during the 2017 Ramadan fast.

This year's Ramadan is the year of Diriliş Ertuğrul, the Turkish series that has had great impact on the world. Fondly called Turkish Game of Thrones, the movie tells the beautiful story of Ertuğrul Gazi, who established justice, fairness for all, irrespective of religion and tribe, before his son, Osman led the Muslim armies to the establishment of the Islamic caliphacy otherwise known as Osman Empire, which ruled the world for 600 years.

The Pakistanis are the most excited about Diriliş Ertuğrul because they have been used to watching Bollywood movies, India's soft power against Islam. In fact, Imran Khan, Pakistan PM made this remark about The Turkish Game of Thrones, "Our children and youth should watch Ertuğrul so that they can learn to differentiate between the real Islamic culture and the “third-hand” one that reaches Pakistan via Hollywood and Bollywood". They see the beauty of Islam in the movie and appreciate what Jihad stands for, different from the misnomer in the western media and movie industry.

In December 2019, a Mexican couple accepted Islam after watching the series which in 1 to 5 seasons, has about about 500 episodes. The new season, Kurusul Osman, is airing on different paid TV channels across the world. 

Rasheed Abubakar is the publisher, Muslim News Nigeria | #Islamtainment

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