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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Israeli-Arab co-director of "Ajami," an Oscar-nominated foreign language film, said on Sunday he should not be seen as representing Israel -- "a country that doesn't represent me" -- at the Academy Awards.
Scandar Copti's remarks, in an interview from Los Angeles with Israel Radio, were condemned by Israel's culture minister, who said she was saddened that a film-maker who accepted government funds for the movie was criticizing his country.
"The movie technically represents Israel," Copti said. "I don't represent Israel. I am an Israeli citizen but I cannot represent a country that doesn't represent me."
His comments echoed complaints by many Arab citizens, who make up a fifth of Israel's population, that they suffer discrimination particularly in funding.
"Ajami," a tale of crime and violence set in a largely Arab populated slum in Jaffa, part of Tel Aviv, is Israel's third consecutive film to be nominated for a foreign language Oscar since 2007.
Copti directed the film with Jewish-Israeli Yaron Shani.
Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Louise Ireland