It is the culture of fundamentalist Islam that concerns Rhys-Davies the most. "When I look at contemporary Islam, I see homophobia, forced conversion, genital mutilation, slavery, two million people being put to death in the Sudan because of their religion."
He also sees its hand in an ugly trend: "There is a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe unprecedented since the 1930s," he laments.
"It's easy to lose a civilization," Rhys-Davies warns. "The values of Western civilization have brought so much good to the world: the notions of equality, democracy, tolerance, abolition of slavery."
Rhys-Davies sees these same themes espoused in The Lord of the Rings, observing, "[J.R.R.] Tolkien knew that civilization is worth fighting for. There are times when a generation is challenged and must fight to defend their civilization from annihilation."
Of course, others on the set didn't see it the same way. Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, wore a "No Blood for Oil" T-shirt during a promotional interview for the movie on Charlie Rose's PBS show.
Ironically, Mortensen's character in the movies is a military leader. And many have drawn parallels between the conflict in The Lord of the Rings with the war on terror. With a twinkle in his eye, Rhys-Davies confides that a friend whispered to him while watching Mortensen in The Return of the King, "Does he realize he's George Bush?"And take note too of what he says about his father-
He says, "As a child, my father showed me a dhow in the harbor at Dar es Salaam and said, 'You see that dhow? Twice a year it comes down from Aden filled with boxes of goods. On the way back up it's got two or three black boys on it. Those boys are slaves. And the U.N. won't let me do a thing about it.'"
Rhys-Davies says that his father predicted our current state of affairs, once telling his son, "The next world war will be between Islam and the West. And it will happen in your lifetime."He wasn't wrong.