Syrian filmmaker accused of staging assassination attempt in PR stunt

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The film director has denied the allegations against him

Muhammad Bayazid (YouTube/screengrab)
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Last update: 
Friday 3 November 2017 18:01 UTC
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Syrian filmmaker Muhammad Bayazid has been accused of staging an assassination attempt him, after videos have emerged appearing to show him plotting last month's alleged attack. 

The leaked videos, first published by news website The New Arab, seem to show the filmmaker in video calls with a colleague discussing the best way in which to fake an assassination attempt against him.

Activists close to Bayazid, who studied film-making in the US, reported last month that the film director had been stabbed in Istanbul, while meeting with a potential investor. 

His new film, The Tunnel, focuses on Tadmor prison in Syria’s Homs province. Bayzid was in Turkey to promote his new film.

The prison has long been one of the most notorious in Syria, well before the civil war broke out in 2011.

According to the New Arab, the videos show phone calls made in May and June of this year. Bayazid was travelling back and forth between the United States and Saudi Arabia at the time.

Bayazid denied the claims in a Facebook post, insisting that the conversations had in fact been prior to his stabbing, and were in regards to producing a short film about the attempt. Bayazid later deactivated his Facebook account. 



Muhammed Bayazid/(Facebook)

In an email to the Guardian, Bayazid's wife Samah said: "My husband has not only faced a physical assassination attempt, but he has been facing a continuous character assassination from the very next day til now." 

She said that the person who leaked the clips had proposed the idea of the short film, and had later attempted to blackmail the couple. 

In one of the clips, Bayazid can be heard saying: “I am currently in Saudi, and I am meeting Syrians to get them to help with the film. And this makes sense. These [Syrians] are the people most affected and moved by the issue.”

The New Arab report names the man in the clips as Mohamed al-Hindi, a freelance media producer.

Hindi allegedly recorded the conversations between the two, revealing plans to fake the assassination attempt.

“Arabs, Arabs, Arabs…  When they see this project taking the spotlight, they will start donating,” Bayazid can be heard saying in the clip.  

“There is not a single news network that won’t be talking about it,” he added.     

The pair discuss how to create a buzz around the attack using social media, as well as debating whether to buy a camera, or to use a 3D printer to make one.                                                            

In one clip, Bayazid can be heard telling Hindi: “Afterwards, we will reveal the film trailer.” 

Activists have now accused Bayazid of manipulating the Syrian cause. 

Rami Jarrah, a Syrian journalist and activist wrote that "not only did this 'incident' create a state of panic amongst Syrian communities that oppose the Assad regime, but also diverted the attention of mainstream media outlets... away from the devastation and harsh realities that Syrians continue to live each day."

Syrian activists say they are feeling increasingly unsafe in Turkey, and just last month a journalist and her activist mother were found dead in their apartment.

Orouba Barakat, an opponent of the ruling Baath party since the 1980s, and her daughter, journalist Halla Barakat, were found dead with stab wounds to their necks in late September. A relative has since confessed to their murders.