Thursday, October 14, 2004

Terrorist bomber drama "a model for young and ambitious people in the Arab world."

Ramadan drama documents life of Yehya Ayyash

A joint Palestinian-Syrian drama series telling the life of Hamas bomb-maker Yehya Ayyash is poised to become the most popular show for tens of millions of Arab viewers during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Friday.

Ayyash, a resident of Rafat village in the northern West Bank, was responsible for a spate of suicide bombings that killed more than 100 Israelis between 1994 and 1996. (during the Oslo "peace process - EoZ) He was assassinated by Israel in 1996 when his booby-trapped mobile phone exploded in his face.

Ayyash, who was nicknamed "The Engineer" because of his expertise in preparing and handling different kinds of explosives, has since become a legend for Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Some have gone as far as comparing the Bir Zeit university graduate to Salah Eddin, the heroic Muslim warrior who drove the Crusaders out of Jerusalem.

Many Arab TV stations broadcast month-long dramas during Ramadan as a form of entertainment. Last year Hizbulah's Al Manar TV station broadcast a controversial series – also produced by a Syrian film company – based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Palestinian writer and literary critic Salah Al-Bardawil dismissed the fears of Hiyam and expressed hope that the drama would present an "honorable" portrait of Yehya Ayyash. "There's no need to worry," he said.

Bardawil noted that the main theme of the drama would be "rejection of the occupation and Zionist and American hegemony, the importance of resistance and the need to avenge the blood of the (Palestinian) victims."

He said the timing of the drama was significant "because it supports the forces fighting against Israeli and American oppression and aggression in Palestine, Iraq and the Arab and Muslim region." The Gaza-based writer said the drama would also serve as a model for young and ambitious people in the Arab world.

Diana Jabour, who wrote the script for the new drama, said she avoided using her imagination and relied only on facts. Asked why she had chosen the Hamas bomb-maker as her hero, Jabour explained: "I was deeply impressed by his personality. Whenever I heard about a suicide attack, the name of The Engineer would be linked to it. I soon discovered that his real name was Yehya Ayyash and started collecting material about him."