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Movie to be made about life of Muhammad, without Muhammad

There is going to be a Muhammad biopic. Yes, that Muhammad. Many readers may wonder: How is that possible, with the whole he-shall-not-be-depicted rule? Well, it's pretty simple; the movie will never show him.

Due to start shooting in 2011, producer Barrie Osborne of Matrix and Lord Of The Rings fame will throw $150 million into a movie that he said is, "an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam."

Osborne has enlisted Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to help guide the film's positive portrayal of Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, though it should be noted that Qaradaw is also barred from entering the U.K. because he defended suicide attacks on Israelis as "martyrdom in the name of God."

KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images

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Even Islamists love Angela Merkel

Sayyed Imam al-Sharif gets all the credit, but another important Islamist preacher has published a letter renouncing violence in Europe. Mohammed al-Fizazi is currently sitting in a Moroccan jail for his role in the 2003 Casablanca terrorist attack, which killed 45 people. In a letter published by Der Spiegel, al-Fizazi praises the religious freedom and employment opportunities available to Muslims in Germany. "The German chancellor is great," he writes, in one particularly effusive paragraph.

Like al-Sharif, al-Fizazi argues that Muslims are forbidden from jihad in Germany because they have signed visa application forms, which amount to a contract between them and the German state to abide by Germany's laws. "Germany is not a battle zone," he states, and engaging in terrorism "will only reinforce the backwardness of Muslims and their image as a group of backward-looking idiots whose place is in the caves and not in the streets of Hamburg."

As a general rule, I'm skeptical that the abstract arguments of Islamist philosophers such as al-Sharif or al-Fizazi really will have a practical impact on regular jihadis, who are likely motivated by more mundane concerns such as lack of political freedom and economic opportunity. However, al-Fizazi's letter is inspiring because he argues that it is the very presence of these freedoms in Germany that prohibits Muslims from conducting violence there. This suggests that Europe is doing a better job integrating its Muslim population than is commonly believed -- a development which is good news for the West, and bad news for radicals everywhere.