Friday, November 6, 2015

Moustapha Akkad's Most Successful Attempt to "Westernize" Islam May be Embodied in John Carpenter's "Halloween"

John Carpenter's Halloween

Moustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born film producer was killed in November, 2005 by an Iraqi homicide-suicide bomber in Amman, Jordan. (…/strange-death-of-moustapha-akkad.…)

In 1976 Moustapha Akkad produced the film, “The Message,” that starred Anthony Quinn. It was an attempt to tell the story of the development of Islam to a Western audience. Considering the huge cinematic obstacles he faced, that was no small feat, for in attempting to do that, he faced the Arab-Muslim tradition condemns any images of Muhammad. So, he was faced with having to find ways of intimating the Prophet Muhammad’s presence without actually showing him, such as with the shadow he cast. But even showing the Prophet’s shadow was denounced by some Muslim groups.

Ultimately Akkad was distressed by both the Arab-Muslim response to his attempt to communicate Islamic ideals to the West and with its poor reception among its target audience.

In 1978 he turned to financing a low-budget horror movie by then little known writer/director John Carpenter. The result was the iconic horror film "Halloween," which grossed close to $50 MILLION after being produced for just $300,00! (

BUT, more than that, in many ways it truly brought Islamic morality home to Western viewers, albeit probably not in the light that Moustapha Akkad would prefer to have cast it in.

The story starts with the a very young (6 y/) Michael Meyers killing his older sister with a butcher knife after she had sex with her boyfriend...the equivalent of an "Honor Killing" popular among many of the world's Muslims. Especially in the Arab world, a lack of chastity in young women is often considered to be such a dishonor to the men of the family that they are often "driven to" attempting to "restore that honor" by either killing the woman, throwing acid in her face, or other such atrocities.

The rest of the film takes place on a Halloween night fifteen years after the initial killing that resulted in the institutionalization of then 6 y/o Michael Meyers. Throughout the rest of the film, a nearly indestructible Michael Meyers slaughters numerous profligate, young women as he hunts for his youngest sister (played by Jamie Lee Curtis). The only men killed are those who seek to protect these ("impure") women - a hospital security guard, a State Trooper who looks to offer first aid to the stricken Michael Meyers, and the boyfriend of one victim who investigates a strange noise in the house. In that regard, the brutish, yet nearly indestructible Michael Meyers CAN be seen as Islam coming for the unchaste West.

It IS an odd testament to Akkad that a Halloween slasher film may have done more to accurately portray the moral sensibilities of Islam (Sharia) than any of the other more historical films he'd worked on.

It's also ironic that he was apparently targeted in that bomb attack by fellow Muslims as "an apostate," for merely seeking to make Islam more understandable to the West.

In that sense, even Akkad's strange death (at the hands of fellow Muslims) may be as instructive as the film "Halloween" as to the incompatible (with Western standards) moral code embodied in Sharia and the danger it poses to the West.

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