Disney censors lyric after Arabs carpet Aladdin

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THE Walt Disney organisation admitted yesterday it had changed the lyrics of Aladdin to make them politically correct.

The words were in the first verse of 'Arabian Nights', which is sung over the title sequence. In America, where the film has made more than dollars 213m ( pounds 145m), a record for an animated feature, cinema audiences over the past year have heard:

'I come from a land, from a faraway place where the caravan camels roam.

Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face.

It's barbaric, but hey it's home.'

But when the film opened in Britain at the Odeon Leicester Square at the weekend, the song had been rerecorded:

'I come from a land, from a faraway place where the caravan camels roam.

Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense.

It's barbaric but hey it's home.'

The original supremely Disneyesque lyric, part of the Oscar-winning score, was written by Howard Ashman, who died of Aids during filming. He was replaced by Tim Rice, who also won an Oscar for another song in the film. The new lyric to Ashman's opening number was penned by the composer of the music, Alan Menken, and the head of Walt Disney animation studios, Peter Schneider.

Daniel Battsek, London-based managing director of Buena Vista International, the distribution company for Walt Disney pictures, said yesterday: 'The decision was made in America after complaints from Arab pressure groups. The studio considered that perhaps they had a case. Yes, it's fair to say that someone has been politically correct. There were discussions with me and I thought there was a possibility of offending British Muslims. But I couldn't see that it affected either the integrity or the enjoyment of the film.'

Article 19, the pressure group which has led the campaign for the defence of Salman Rushdie, said yesterday: 'There has been concern since the start of the Rushdie affair about the possibility of self- censorship. The fact that this lyric has caused offence to one group is not sufficient ground for censorship in our view, nor indeed under European law.'

(Photograph omitted)