Director Ridley Scott has been praised for challenging the post 9/11 demonisation of the Muslim religion and warfare in his latest movie KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

The controversial film depicts a 12th century Muslim-Christian battle for Jerusalem during the Third Crusade - and is set to cast aside stereotypical views of Muslims and show the benefits of diplomacy over war in resolving Middle Eastern crises.

Historians have praised the accurate character portrayals - in particular that of Muslim leader SALADIN, played by Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud.

Muslim scholar HAMID DABASHI says, "There are a few inaccuracies, in that he has probably made Saladin look too heroic.

"Saladin was always respected more by Christians than Muslims, and would show mercy to those who could afford to pay him.

"But this is a film that tries to deal as accurately as possible with the difficult issues of religion and warfare of the time.

"Muslims have nothing to fear."

The film, shot in Morocco and Spain, hits screens next month (MAY05).

17/04/2005 21:33