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Oscars petitioned to disqualify 'Paradise Now'

Some 36,000 people have petitioned Oscars organisers to urgently disqualify the Palestinian entry for the Academy Awards.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2006 04:43 IST

Some 36,000 people have petitioned Oscars organisers to urgently disqualify the Palestinian entry for Sunday's Academy Awards, "

Paradise Now

," claiming it glorifies suicide bombers.

An Arab-American peace activist delivered the petition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences late Friday, 48 hours before the show at which Hany Abu-Assad's film could win the Oscar for best foreign language film.

"Giving an Oscar nomination to this film glorifies inexcusable actions," said peace activist Nonie Darwish. "It may even encourage future homicide bombings."

The movie, one of five contenders for the foreign film Oscar, tells the story of two childhood friends who volunteer for a double suicide bombing in Tel-Aviv and tries to examine their motivations.

"Paradise Now," which won the Golden Globe award for best foreign-language film in January, does not deserve its Oscar nomination because it legitimises suicide bombings, Darwish maintained.

Oscars officials confirmed they had received the petition but said the film would not be not be withdrawn from consideration at Hollywood's biggest night, weighted this year with a battery of serious politically-themed movies.

The petition drive was organized by Yossi Zur, whose 16-year-old son, Asaf, died in a suicide bus bombing in Israel on March 5, 2003, exactly three years ahead of Sunday's 78th Academy Awards show.

Darwish said she did not oppose movie-goers seeing the film or the director's right to make it, but insisted that awarding the movie an Oscar would send the wrong message to the volatile and strife-torn Middle East.

"It will say that here is two guys who did terrorism ... and the movie won an Academy Award," Darwish said.

"Paradise Now's" January 31 nomination for best foreign film immediately sparked protests both in Israel and in the United States, drawing fire also for the Academy's decision to tag the movie's origin as "Palestine."

Reports have said that he Israeli government quietly lobbied the Academy to have it represent the Palestinian Authority, but Oscar official denied coming under any pressure from either Israel or any Jewish group.

However, the Academy did mull whether to recategorise the disputed movie as coming from the "Palestinian Territories" or some other tag.

First Published: Mar 05, 2006 01:28 IST