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"I'm no racist!"


- Pedro Almodovar refutes accusations of "anti-Arab” sentiments levied by writer Tahar Ben Jelloun after the director declined the invitation of the Marrakech Film Festival

"I'm no racist!"

“Absurd, stupid, insulting and unreal.” Spain’s Oscar winning film director, Pedro Almodovar reacted to Moroccan writer and journalist, Tahar Ben Jelloun’s a scathing attack on him in an open letter published last Tuesday by Catalan daily, "La Vanguardia".
. “I’m having a hard time believing that this is not just one big bad joke,” continued the director in a statement to the ABC news agency.
The Moroccan writer was offended by Almodovar’s having declined the invitation of the Marrakech International Film Festival to be the guest of honour at a retrospective of his work.
“Almodovar is the latest in a growing number of Spanish people with anti-Arab prejudices” and he “gave into political and media pressure that was brought to bear on him by Spanish premier, José Maria Aznar’s stupid politics, “ writes Ben Jelloun.
He points out that relations between the two countries have been at an all-time low for the last twelve months, the reasons being “the seemingly endless flow of Moroccans crossing into Spain, that country’s “occupation” of the Moroccan towns of Ceuta and Melilla, the fish war, the recent invasion of Perejil Island and the Western Sahara issue.”
Almodovar said that he was grateful to the Marrakech organisers for having honoured him with this invitation but that he was forced to decline for “personal and professional reasons”. Almodovar went on to say that he had not accepted last August’s invitations to Telluride (US), Toronto and Jerusalem, and would not be going to Rio de Janeiro or Iceland this month either. Almodovar firmly refuted Ben Jelloun’s charges that he was a racist, “I am totally in favour of cultural exchanges between the nations and adore the Moroccan people... My first sight of the Yeam el Fna Square was one of the strongest emotions I’ve ever experienced in my life and everything I express in my films can be seen in that square every single day of the year.”

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