- Title: YEMEN: Film aims to discourage Yemenis from joining radical groups
- Date: 27th August 2008
- Summary: (MER-1) SANAA, YEMEN (RECENT) (REUTERS): MEN SITTING ON CHAIRS LOOKING AT PASSING CARS ON STREET GENERAL VIEW TRADITIONAL BUILDINGS IN SANAA
- Embargoed: 11th September 2008 15:06
- Location: Yemen
- Country: Yemen
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Film,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA947JANKEODLYBCY1RLH5D54OS
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: In a bid to fight the rise of militant religious groups in Yemen, the Sanaa government has helped a production company develop its first film to help counter the recruitment of young Yemenis by extremist groups.
The feature-length film, called "The Losing Bet", premiered in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday (August 24), and portrays what it sees as the vulnerability of the poorer, lesser-educated people of Yemeni society to before the influence of Islamic militants.
Yemen has been an ally of the United States against al-Qaeda. Ramzi Binalshibh, a Yemeni national and suspected ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, was captured in Karachi in September 2002 and is currently held in Guantanamo Bay.
The director of the film, Fadhl al-Ulufi, said the film was trying to deal with broad issues and wasn't intended as a swipe against a particular group.
"Of course, we haven't targeted anyone. The film was clear in talking against the wrongful ideology of extremism," he said.
The 105-minute film cost producers an estimated 90,000 U.S. Dollars and took several months to shoot.
Al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-affiliated attacks have hurt Yemen's fledgling tourist industry, especially outside the capital.
Earlier this year, gunmen killed two Belgian tourists and two Yemenis in Hadramout, a southern province where militancy was considered uncommon.
Last year, a suicide car bomb killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemenis in the troubled Marib region, 100 km (60 miles) east of Sanaa.
Jenny Hill, a British freelance journalist and film critic, said the film's effect on potential recruits remains to be seen.
"I think this is an attempt to generate dialogue amongst the Yemeni public, whether or not it's going to target the exact people who may become vulnerable to religious extremists is a matter for debate. But I do think it's an attempt to try and educate the public about the recruitment process and to generate a dialogue here amongst Yemenis about a process that's happening here in this society," she said.
Insecurity is bad news for the tourism sector and slims the few chances there are of foreign investment in the Middle East's poorest country, where infrastructure is ramshackle and quality hotels are few.
Yemen, where Osama bin Laden's family originated, is viewed by some in the West as a haven for militants and a "pipeline" for those adamant on fighting U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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