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Last Updated: Friday, 8 April, 2005, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Crusades film 'will help Muslims'
Kingdom of Heaven
Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson co-star in the film
Two Arabic actors starring in a Hollywood film about the Crusades say it will improve Western understanding of Muslim world.

Kingdom of Heaven depicts a 12th century Muslim-Christian battle for Jerusalem during the Third Crusade.

Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, who plays the Muslim leader Saladin, said the film would not reinforce old stereotypes as some had feared.

The Ridley Scott-directed movie also stars Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson.

Big budget

Massoud also said Kingdom of Heaven would show the US the benefits of diplomacy over war in resolving Middle East crises.

"Saladin fights battles, but he also enters into dialogue. We want to show that dialogue can be much better than war," he said.

"Today, America has overwhelming force but it is as if they don't want to build a dialogue."

Kingdom of Heaven, with a budget estimated at $130m (69m), is being tipped as one of the summer's biggest film releases.

Some religious figures have raised concerns that the film will fuel the idea of a clash of civilisations between East and West, and could increase Western animosity towards Islam.

'Positive' film

But Egyptian actor Khaled el-Nabawy, said: "We have Christians who think this movie is pro-Muslim and Muslims who think that this movie is pro-Christian.

"It will make both go and see the movie, which is positive for improving understanding.

"It's time for the West to know more about us."

"We are not terrorists. We are very civilised and our history is a witness to this."

The film, which was shot in Morocco and Spain, opens in the UK on 6 May.

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