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Disney Agrees to Change Lyrics to ‘Aladdin’ Song

July 10, 1993 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Walt Disney Co. said it will alter some lyrics of a song in the Oscar- winning animated feature ″Aladdin,″ but Arab-American activists who labeled the movie racist said the studio didn’t go far enough.

Changes in the song were announced Friday after Disney received permission from the estate of the late lyricist Howard Ashman and his collaborator, composer Alan Menken.

Dick Cook, Disney president for distribution, said the lyrics were changed following meetings with members of the Washington-based American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee.

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″It was something we did because we wanted to do it. In no way would we ever do anything that would be insensitive to anyone,″ he said. ″So on reflection, we changed it.″

Two lines in film’s opening song, ″Arabian Nights,″ were changed to delete references to the threat of mutilation by Arabs.

Originally, the lines read:

″Oh, 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.″

The fourth and fifth lines were replaced with lyrics that describe the desert climate and geography.

Activists said they still are angry because Disney left in place the third line’s use of the word ″barbaric.′

″The changes were the right thing to do, but we are still one word away from being pleased,″ said Albert Mokhiber president of the anti- discrimination committee.

He said the committee will continue to press Disney to remove the word and to meet with Disney Chairman Michael Eisner.

The new lyrics will be heard in the home video version of the animated movie, which will be released Oct. 1, and in future theatrical releases of ″Aladdin.″

The movie, with a U.S. box office gross of $207 million, is the most successful animated feature ever and is expected to sell well in the home video market.

Don Bustany, president of the committee’s Los Angeles chapter, said the group also remains concerned that the movie’s villains all speak with foreign accents while the leading characters, Aladdin and the Princess Jasmine, sound like Americans.

Also, ″There still remains the very sleazy, burlesque character in the prologue and the scene where a merchant is going to cut off the hand of Princess Jasmine because she took an apple from his stand to give to a hungry child.″

Cook denied the movie portrays Arabs in a bad light. The movie, he said, should be judged ″as an entire work where the hero Aladdin and the Princess Jasmine also are Arab.″