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'Siege' Beseiged By Protesters

Hollywood loves to use previews to generate interest in new films. But the trailer for a new movie, The Siege, is creating some controversy, even before the film's final cut is made.

Several Arab-American and Islamic groups are upset by the film's trailer and by how Muslims may be portrayed in the movie. Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says, "It's stereotyping. It hurts us and translates into mistreatment, misunderstanding, acts of discrimination against Muslims in America."

The plot is straightforward. Muslim terrorists strike on American soil with a level of violence rarely seen here. Scenes from the trailer bear a chilling resemblance to the aftermath of the recent bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. For some moviegoers, it was unnerving. "I kind of thought you might put some ideas, some ideas in the terrorists' heads," said one.

No one from 20th Century Fox would talk on camera about The Siege, but the company and the film's director say it explores issues of prejudice and fear. And they point out that in the film, Arab-Americans are victims as well. The film's creators are hearing the criticism and they've made some changes.

Nihad Awad is not satisfied. "I base my judgment on the script," he says. "The changes are not enough. I hope by the time they show us a rough cut, I will be satisfied."

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan says, unfortunately, stereotyping is one thing Hollywood does well.
"You go all the way back to Birth of a Nation, which is still a very controversial film because of its kind of horrific stereotyping of African-Americans."

Since the final cut of The Siege isn't done yet, American Muslims hope they can effect a change by speaking out now.

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