The Turkish film, Faith 1453 tells of the dramatic, and for Christians traumatic, sack of Constantinople by the Mohammedan Ottomans in 1453. Constantinople which was the Capital of the Roman Empire for more than 1,100 years was with Rome the most important city of Christendom. The $17 million-dollar-film which drew enthusiasm in Turkey, incited hard critics from Christians in the Orient. The film has numerous historical errors and barbs of hate against Christians.
The film is to be shown in theaters in Beruit. The Christian community of the Land of the Cedars have thus called for a boycott They are calling it a “Propaganda film”. The 160 minute production of the Turkish director Faruk Aksoy begins with a flashback to Mohamed in exile from Medina, promising his followers “eternal happiness” if they conquered the Byzantine capital. The Ottoman Sultan took up this prophesy of Mohamed symbolically, according to the film, and began his operations against Constantinople which had defied Islam for 800 years.
Politico-Religious Propaganda Film Far Removed from Historical Reality
The combination of religious prophesy and Ottoman conquest in the film clearly speaks to Turkish national pride, as sold-out theater sales since February show.
One historical appraisal praised the film, say critics, but didn’t stand. The historical errors represented therein have rewritten the glorification of Islam and the Sultan’s politico-religious leadership. With that the film is not only a historical, but also more in a poltical dimension. A political dimension which which occurs in the re-islamicization of Turkey and connected with the beginning of the 20th century’s declining Ottoman Empire and Turkey as a great power in the Orient.
Rodrigo Khoury, the founder of the Christian Lebanese party Al-Machreq is among the first to see the film in a preview. The Lebanese Christians were shocked. He forwarded an introductory film review with a detailed explanation of historical errors to General Surete, the censor of the Lebanese government. Khoury addressed himself to numerous journalists, to allow the release of the film in the name of freedom of expression and art.
The Film Shows the Struggle Between Christian and Muslim Culture — Christendom is a Grotesque Caricature
“The Film” says Khoury, “doesn’t tell the struggle between two kingdoms, as the subtitle maintains, rather it’s the struggle between two cultures, the Christian and the Muslim. The Christian culture is distorted as a grotesque culture and the origin of all evil, while the Muslim culture on the other hand as perfect, faultless and portrayed therefore as the superior culture.” The young Christians of Lebanon are rejecting this film, because it “clearly calls for open hatred against Christians”, says Khoury.
Father Abdo Abou Kassem is of the same opinion as the press agent for the Catholic Church in Lebanon. “The Christian religion will be disparaged through numerous and substantial historical errors, and unjustly portrayed.” One scene shows, says the Catholic priest, how Sultan Mehmed (Mohammed) II entered the Basilica of Hagia Sofia and pushed among thousands of faithful, who had fled there in terror. The Sultan hugged and silenced then a child and explained that the conqueror will also be a protector. “As we know from the chronicles and the history, this is absolute fabrication. As the Sultan entered the largest church in the city, he gave the order to slaughter all of the Christians there, more than 3,000, and let his soldiers rape Christian women there as a sign of the occupation. The Basilica was then turned into a mosque,” says Father Abdo.
“Fetih 1453″ was released some weeks after protests against a short private film against Mohamed in Arabic lands. Because of a “blasphemous” disparagement of Mohammed and of Islam hundreds of thousands of Muslims in many states went to the streets. The protests which were at times violent, costed more than 50 human lives, among them the American ambassador in Libya and hundreds of wounded.