Pacino finds scent of a controversy in Mideast filming

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Two weeks before the filming began, however, local residents, protesting land expropriation by the Israeli military, rioted in Umm el-Fahm in one of the most serious confrontations ever between police and Israeli Arabs.

Then, just a few days before the filming began, the Umm el-Fahm region was hit by fires. Five Israeli Arab youths have been detained on suspicion of arson.

Moreover, some local influentials had expressed reservations because they were concerned that the movie would insult Islam.

Mayor Ra'ed Salah Mahajneh still gave the green light for the filming, and the production went ahead.

The star of "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Scent of a Woman," Pacino was expected to leave the country by the end of last week.

He stayed at the Dan Caesarea Hotel under a false identity — not because he was afraid of zealots from Umm el-Fahm, but because he wanted to avoid the hysteria of Israeli fans.