- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2006

BERLIN — A virulently anti-Semitic film about the Iraq war has provoked a storm of protest in Germany after it sold out to cheering audiences from the country’s 2.5-million-strong Turkish community within days of being released.

“Valley of the Wolves,” by the Turkish director Serdan Akar, shows crazed American GIs massacring innocent guests at a wedding party and scenes in which a Jewish surgeon removes organs from Iraqi prisoners in a style reminiscent of the Nazi death-camp doctor Josef Mengele.

Bavaria’s interior minister conceded last week that he had dispatched intelligence service agents to cinemas showing the film to “gauge” audience reaction and identify potential radicals.

Edmund Stoiber, the state’s conservative governor, has appealed to cinema operators to remove what he described as “this racist and anti-Western hate film” from their programs.

The $10.5 million film, the most expensive Turkish production ever made, had already proved a box-office hit in Turkey, where it first opened last month at a gala attended by the wife of the country’s prime minister.

The production went into general release in Germany two weeks ago and has had full houses ever since. More than 130,000 people, most of them young Muslims, saw the film in the first five days of its opening.

At a packed cinema in a largely Turkish immigrant district of Berlin last week, “Valley of the Wolves” was being watched almost exclusively by young Turkish men. They clapped furiously when the Turkish hero of the film was shown blowing up a building occupied by the U.S. military commander in northern Iraq.

In the closing sequence, the hero is shown plunging a dagger into the heart of a U.S. commander called Sam. The audience responded by standing up and chanting “Allah is great!”

Afterward, an 18-year-old member of the audience said: “The Americans always behave like this. They slaughtered the red Indians and killed thousands in Vietnam.

“I was not shocked by the film, I see this on the news every day.”

The nature of the film and the enthusiastic reception given to it by young Muslims, has both shocked and polarized politicians and community leaders.

Bernd Neumann, the state secretary for culture in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government complained last week that the reaction to the film “raises serious questions about the values of our society and our ability to instill them.”

Kenan Kolat, the head of Germany’s Turkish community insisted that a ban on the film would make matters worse. “If it is withdrawn, it will raise levels of identification with the film,” he said. “A democracy must be able to endure films that it doesn’t approve of.” Alin Sahin, the film’s distributor in Germany argued: “When a cartoonist insults two billion Muslims, it is considered freedom of opinion, but when an action film takes on the Americans, it is considered demagoguery. Something is wrong.”