[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Kite Runner boy star 'not safe'
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kabul

Ahmad Khan
Ahmad Khan faces a new life in the Middle East
The family of a boy involved in a controversial film about Afghanistan say that the movie's distributors are evacuating them from the country.

The family says that the makers of The Kite Runner believe the measure is necessary for their own safety.

The New York Times newspaper says Paramount Vantage is arranging for three families to go and live abroad, and is delaying the film's release.

It has run into controversy in Afghanistan, where most of it is set.

Written in 2003 by the Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini, the book spans the years from the pre-war Kabul of the 1970s to the brutality of the Taleban era.

It deals with poignant themes such as exile, a son's longing to please his father and - above all - friendship and betrayal between two boys, the novel's central characters.

Psychopathic bully

But according to the New York Times, the film's release has now been delayed by six weeks.

That is because of unforeseen controversy over its central scene - the rape of a boy who is Amir the narrator's best friend and his servant - by a psychopathic bully.

Contacted by the BBC, Ahmad Jaan Mahmidzada - whose son Ahmad Khan plays Hassan the raped servant - confirmed that his family is leaving later this month for the United Arab Emirates, with all expenses paid by the film company.

He would not elaborate.

Ahmad Khan with father Ahmad Jaan

But in an earlier BBC interview, Mr Mahmidzada said he feared a violent reaction in Afghanistan to The Kite Runner's rape scene, in which Hassan, who comes from the subjugated Hazara ethnic group, is raped by an older bully from the dominant Pashtuns.

"I'm worried people from my tribe will turn against me, even cut my throat and kill me," he said at the time.

With other Afghans saying they fear reprisals too, Paramount Vantage has, according to the New York Times, arranged for three families to move to the UAE and will fund the boys' schooling for several years and find jobs for their guardians.

The paper said this came after the studio's consultants visited Kabul and were widely told the boys should be evacuated, although no one they interviewed had actually seen the film. One of Paramount's lawyers said that if they were being overly cautious, "that's OK".

The producers have been widely praised for using ordinary Afghan actors.

But there has been a row about the filming, with the children and their families saying they were not warned about the rape scene in advance.

The producers insist they were.

Kite Runner flies into controversy
18 Sep 07 |  South Asia
Kite Runner heads book club poll
08 Aug 06 |  Entertainment
Poll names 'top book group novel'
29 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
Top prize for pub reading group
16 Aug 04 |  Manchester

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific