Anti-Americanism Wins at the Turkish Box Office

ByABC News
February 14, 2006, 11:34 AM

Feb. 14, 2006 — -- Anti-Americanism is everywhere you look in the Middle East and many other parts of the world. Now it's a box-office hit in Turkey, an important American Ally.

"Valley of the Wolves Iraq," the most expensive Turkish movie ever made at about $10 million, is an action-packed movie based on actual events. It opens with a real incident that took place in Iraq on July 4, 2003. American Marines raided Turkish Special Forces offices in Sulimaniyah, threw hoods over the soldiers' heads and held them in custody for a number of days, claiming they mistook the soldiers for insurgents.

Turkey, a longtime NATO ally of the United States and a model of a secular democratic Muslim state, took the incident as a national humiliation. According to ABC's Ali Nun in Ankara, "currently in Turkey there is anti-American sentiment dating back to Sulimaniyah. The image of the hooded Special Forces soldiers hasn't been forgotten."

In this film, the fictional hero sets out for revenge after the leader of the soldiers commits suicide upon his return home. The plot continuously plays the good Turks against the bad Americans, creating a cocktail of fact and fiction stirred with nationalistic edge.

In one scene, U.S. soldiers attack a wedding, killing dozens, shooting the groom and arresting the rest. The survivors are dragged off to prison. For the first time, the real-life abuses by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib are played out on the big screen, but the Turkish imagination gets the better. Once in Abu Ghraib, the prisoners have their organs removed by a Jewish-American doctor who sells them to rich clients in New York, London and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Not only does the film depict multiple executions and an attack on a mosque during evening prayers, but it typecasts the Americans as evil and psychotic. Gary Busey and Billy Zane are the American stars.

Busey plays the doctor in Abu Ghraib, and Zane's American commander is a self-righteous man driven by God as he kills thoughtlessly. His character is more of a caricature embodying the stereotypes that make American soldiers so unpopular in the Muslim world.