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Offers and support for anti-PC actor

Jan 25 2004

Lucy Ballinger, Wales on Sunday


A FILM-MAKER has offered Lord Of The Rings star John Rhys-Davies a part in his new movie to make a stand against political correctness.

American scriptwriter Charles Welty said he was sticking up for the actor's right to freedom of speech after he started a race row last week when he claimed a Muslim population explosion in Europe was a "demographic catastrophe" threatening "Western civilisation".

The 59-year-old actor from Ammanford said that, although he knew he could be "burying" his career with his comments, he felt "some questions demand honest answers".

Rhys-Davies, who plays heroic dwarf Gimli and recorded the voice of Treebeard in the Lord Of The Rings blockbuster, also interpreted JRR Tolkien's story of good versus evil as a metaphor for modern race relations.

And he admitted he was in favour of "dead (traditional), white male culture".

The far right British National Party fanned the flames of fury by using his words in a campaign leaflet, claiming they "dovetailed" with their views - a move which Rhys-Davies said "distressed" him.

Muslim leaders, Welsh MP Adam Price and the Tolkien Society accused him of racism, which the actor strongly denies.

But Mr Welty contacted Wales on Sunday to pledge his support by offering him a part in Ludington's Ride.

The movie is based on the true story of 16-year-old heroine Sybil Ludington, who overcomes the odds at the time of the American struggle against the British in the War of Independence.

"It's not about politics," said Mr Welty. "It's about a willingness to stand up for what you believe. Sybil Ludington did that. John Rhys-Davies is doing that with his current comments about Islam and the West.

"Other actors take similar stands, and they get blacklisted for it. You take your stand, you pay your price.

"I was just hoping that Mr Rhys-Davies would appreciate the fact that there are some people out here who appreciate someone having the guts to say what he believes.

"I, for one, want to see that kind of thing rewarded."

The film-maker claims the offer would have been there anyway, but Rhys-Davies's comments spurred him on.

"Now he has made his stand, I wanted to do my little part to see that he did not suffer for it, or at least that he might not suffer too much."

But critic Mohammed Javed, chairman of the Muslim Society for Wales, said Rhys-Davies should not profit from his remarks.

"It's horrible he is being offered a part because of this. He should not benefit from these comments. Nobody should be saying these types of things. We are all human beings, colour and race should be irrelevant. People like John Rhys-Davies should be condemned not encouraged," he said.



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