For "American Sniper" fans, critics and anyone wondering the truth about the so-called "Olympic sniper from Syria" portrayed as "Mustafa" by the actor Sammy Sheik, the blog post that follows affirms the proof is in the mahalabiya (مهلبية).
And like variations of this Arab world recipe, the pudding du jour is both sweet and nutty while officially condemning the creative work of Oscar-nominated "American Sniper" screenwriter Jason Hall and director Clint Eastwood.
The condemnation comes all the way from the president of the Syrian Olympic Committee, in writing and officially stamped by his staff.
On a hunch noted on this site last week, and from research completed by a fellow International
Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH) member Brian Carberry and myself since seeing "American Sniper" in theatres, I took time to write a letter to the Syrian Olympic Committee to ask specific questions as to the facts surrounding their competitors -- specifically shooting athletes -- entered in the Olympics prior to the early 2000s.
In an email reply received January 25, 2015, the executive director of the Syrian Olympic Committee provided a formal response signed by Gen. Mowafak Jomaa, president of the Syrian Olympic Committee, dated 22 January 2015.
The complete email correspondence (formatted as JPEGs to suit this blog posting template and to protect privacy/emails/phone numbers for the writers) is included with this post.
But I'll take a moment to quote Gen. Jomaa here:
"... we herewith assure you that the claimed Olympic shooter in the 'American Sniper' who is named 'Mustafa' is just a fictional character since we have no Olympic shooter as you tracked and your research as well."Gen. Jomaa continues with some direct feedback about the creative process chosen by the Oscar-nominated screen writer Jason Hall for "American Sniper" (specifically, the invention of "Mustafa").
"... using such a hint is an attempt to ... involve sportsmen in politics and the current situation in Syria. We strongly believe that sport should be separated from politics and war."The letter goes on to condemn Hall, Eastwood and the film's involvement of the Olympic Family:
"We reassure that none has contacted our office and this character is merely a media propaganda to distort the Olympic movement in Syria ... (a) matter that we condemn."Now, once upon time in Atlanta, I actually ran into Clint Eastwood (as reported here) while he was in town directing another sports film (sadly, a lesser film than "American Sniper" -- for the record, I again state the latter film is excellent in this blogger's opinion).
Boy, howdy. It sure would be interesting and make my day to get Eastwood's two cents on this Syrian Olympic Committee letter (not to mention Hall's response). So I'll next be typing notes addressed to Hollywood. Does anyone have Eastwood's email address handy?
"American Sniper" publicity still via Fandango. Other images are screen grabs of actual correspondence formatted for this site by Nicholas Wolaver. These images are copyright Nicholas Wolaver and may be used only by written permission.