Published June 08, 2008
Egyptian actor Omar Sharif — best known for his film roles in Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago — reportedly blasted U.S. policy in Iraq and said Americans are ignorant.
According to The Middle East Media Research Institute, Sharif said the "East" will never have a democracy because people like him "prefer to go to the neighborhood sheik." MEMRI —a Middle Eastern press monitoring organization — posted an interview of Sharif that aired on the Al-Hayat TV network.
"I lived in America for a long time. Only 10% of all Americans have a passport. In other words, 90% never left America," said Sharif. "They don't know anything."
Sharif said that he spoke with President Bush before the beginning of the Iraq War and told him that Arab nations are made up of sects resistant to becoming democratized.
"I said to Bush, even before he entered Iraq: Forget about all that. We, the Arabs... We are not like [regular countries]," said Sharif. "You will drown there.
After being asked what Bush's response was, the actor stated: "He didn't believe me."
Sharif, who was born Michel Demitri Shalhoub and raised a Roman Catholic, converted to Islam and changed his named when he married Egyptian actress Faten Hamama in 1955.
The 76-year-old actor, known for his expertise as a bridge player, has occasionally made headlines for his hot temper. In February he pleaded no contest to charges he assaulted a parking attendant in LA who claimed he was punched by acting great.