France Restricts ‘Salafistes’, Film on Islamic Radicals

PARIS — The French Culture Ministry ruled Wednesday that a new documentary film on Islamic radicals was unsuitable for minors, saying that it offered images of violence that were “sometimes unbearable” and interviews with members of Al Qaeda and other extremist figures that provided a platform for propaganda.

The documentary, “Salafistes,” will also be accompanied by a warning about its contents. It shows one leader of the Salafists, who practice a fundamentalist form of Islam, supporting the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States and another leader justifying the amputation of hands as a punishment under Shariah, the legal code of Islam. They also speak freely about their opinions on the inferiority of women.

The decision to restrict a movie to those 18 and over is usually reserved for films with pornographic content or extremely violent scenes, and is very rare for documentaries in France, which has been grappling with how to balance freedom of speech and expression with national security after a series of deadly attacks last year. This month, the distributors of “Made in France,” a film about fictional homegrown jihadists, decided to cancel its release in theaters, citing security concerns.

The documentary starts with a tour of Timbuktu, Mali, under the occupation of jihadists in 2012 and ends with propaganda images of the Islamic State last year. The images inspired the movie “Timbuktu,” directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

“We wanted to show what it was like to live under the Shariah when we started the project, but then Daesh emerged and we had to put it in the synopsis,” said François Margolin, who directed the French film with Lemine Ould M. Salem, a journalist from Mauritania, using another term for the Islamic State.

“Salafistes” was among the films to be shown at the FIPA festival in Biarritz in southwestern France. Just before the first screening the National Center of Cinematography, which assigns movie ratings, called the festival to say that the documentary was “degrading human dignity” because it showed images of a police officer killed in the attacks of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last year.

In response, the festival restricted the screening only to those with credentials, like reviewers and journalists.

The cinematography center recommended that the film receive an under-18 restriction and a warning message. Mr. Margolin and Mr. Ould Salem cut that scene and submitted the new version Tuesday.

But after watching the second version, the culture minister, Fleur Pellerin, who has oversight on ratings, agreed with the center, which argued that the film did not provide any counterpoint to the extremists, some of whom called for the murders of Jews and Christians.

Mr. Margolin said he had not expected the film to be rated at all. “The interviews explain the ideology of these people, and the propaganda images are here to show in practice how their ideas work,” he said Tuesday. “People are intelligent enough to understand the contrast.”

At the film’s Paris premiere on Tuesday night, the audience was split, with some arguing that the movie had the courage to “look evil in the eye,” while others thought it amounted only to propaganda.

The rating is also proving to be a financial blow to the directors. “Salafistes” had been scheduled to open in 30 theaters nationwide but will instead open in just three.

“We are going to lose a lot of money despite the fact that we risked our lives to shoot some scenes,” Mr. Margolin said.

 

CAIR-OK Welcomes School District’s Decision to Drop Islamophobic Film

(TULSA, OK, 8/13/2014) – The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today welcomed a decision by Jenks Public Schools’ administration to stop using an Islamophobic Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy film in their classrooms. In May 2014, after receiving a complaint from a concerned parent, CAIR-OK questioned the schools’ use of the film “Conspiracy: Oklahoma City Bombing” as a part of its Oklahoma History Curriculum. The film falsely suggests that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was the work of “Middle-Eastern Islamist organizations.

A letter received from Jenks Public Schools Assistant Superintendent dated August 5, 2014, stated that, “upon further review of the video, a committee of district level administrators has determined that the video will be removed from the collection in the Freshman Academy Media Center.”

This decision came after the Jenks Public schools’ Materials Review Committee chose to keep the video as a part of their media library following a request for review in June 2014.

“We welcome this decision on behalf of the parents of Muslim students in Jenks school district and in the broader Oklahoma Muslim community,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani. “Islamophobic classroom materials should be of concern to all parents, because they can lead to anti-Muslim bullying and a general atmosphere of Islamophobia within the school system.”

Film at 9/11 Museum Sets Off Clash Over Reference to Islam

Past the towering tridents that survived the World Trade Center collapse, adjacent to a gallery with photographs of the 19 hijackers, a brief film at the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial Museum will seek to explain to visitors the historical roots of the attacks.

The film, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” refers to the terrorists as Islamists who viewed their mission as a jihad. The NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who narrates the film, speaks over images of terrorist training camps and Qaeda attacks spanning decades. Interspersed are explanations of the ideology of the terrorists, from video clips in foreign-accented English translations.

The documentary is not even seven minutes long, the exhibit just a small part of the museum. But it has over the last few weeks suddenly become a flash point in what has long been one of the most highly charged issues at the museum: how it should talk about Islam and Muslims.

“The screening of this film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum,” Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the imam of Masjid Manhattan, wrote in a letter to the museum’s director. “Unsophisticated visitors who do not understand the difference between Al Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading to antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”

Museum officials are standing by the film, which they say was vetted by several scholars of Islam and of terrorism. A museum spokesman and panel members described the contents of the film, which was not made available to The New York Times for viewing.

The question of how to represent Islam in the museum has long been fraught. It was among the first issues that came up when the museum began asking for advice in about 2005 from a panel of mostly Lower Manhattan clergy members who had been involved in recovery work after the attacks.

Peter B. Gudaitis, who brought the group together as the chief executive of New York Disaster Interfaith Services, said the museum had rejected certain Islam-related suggestions from the panel, such as telling the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani, a Muslim cadet with the New York Police Department who died in the attack and was initially suspected as a perpetrator.

 

CAIR’s response:

 

A coalition of American Muslim and Arab-American organizations (see list below) today urged the National September 11 Memorial Museum to consider editing a planned film presentation, “The Rise of Al Qaeda,” because it may lead viewers to wrongly conclude that that the entire faith of Islam is responsible for the 2001 terror attacks.

In an open letter to museum President Joe Daniels and Director Alice Greenwald, the organizations wrote in part:

“We have learned that you have been aware, since at least June 2013, that viewers have found this video confusing and possibly inflammatory. The museum’s own interfaith religious advisory group has repeatedly asked that this video be edited, with their concerns being dismissed.

“According to their testimony, the video:

  • Deploys haphazard and academically controversial terminology, in particular ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’, to generalize, unnecessarily, about al-Qaeda’s acts of terrorism.
  • Does not properly contextualize al-Qaeda as a small organization in comparison to the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.
  • Uses stereotypical, accented English for speakers of Arabic in translation.
  • May give some viewers, especially those not familiar with the subtleties of the terminology being used, the impression that Islam, as a religion, is responsible for September 11.

Signatories to the letter include:

  • Samer Khalaf, President, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
  • Lena Alhusseini, Executive Director, Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC)
  • Maya Berry, Executive Director, Arab American Institute (AAI)
  • Nihad Awad, National Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • Salam Al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
  • Nadia Tonova, Director, National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC)
  • Sarab Al-Jijakli, President, Network of Arab-American Professionals (NAAP)

Film on the Case of Murat Kurnaz” A Scandal of Democracy”

“Five Years” examines the fate of the German Guantanamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz. Director Stefan Schaller’s film exposes viewers to the horrific abuse of human rights endured by camp detainees. Jochen Kürten reports

Cinema has always tended to embroil itself in current politics. While there is no standard formula for the genre of political cinema, the success of such films often comes down to the quality of the script and the ability and sensitivity of the director. The German film “5 Jahre Leben” (“Five Years”) is one triumphant example.

The background to the film is the case of Turkish-German Murat Kurnaz. Shortly after the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, Kurnaz was captured in Pakistan and taken to the notorious Guantanamo detention camp where he was imprisoned for five years.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Film Review

Its message might be flabby, but Mira Nair’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s novel is still a bold piece of global storytelling. Based on the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid, this is an ambitious, heartfelt tale of divided loyalties in a world where complacent belief in the triumph of globalised capital was shattered by the Twin Towers attack. Ahmed is Changez, a firebrand Muslim professor in Pakistan, suspected by the CIA of anti-American jihadism. But Changez is to reveal that his ideological training camp was a Wall Street corporation: years before, as a bright immigrant to the US, he got an Ivy League scholarship and was fast-tracked into a high-flying Manhattan job, where he learned to be internationally strategic and ruthless. But 9/11 changes him, and as people of his skin colour and background come to be reviled in New York, Changez reconsiders his loyalties and life choices.

Rai Film about Islam

March 19, 2013

A Capuchin monk from Friulana, Marco D’Aviano, who energized Christians troops before the Battle of Vienna in which Ottoman army of 300,000 warriors was stopped in their besiegement of Vienna on September 11, 1683. The film explains that this was the first September 11; 300 years ago. Produced by RAI the film will premier on  April 11 and will be distributed by Microcinema. The distribution of the film has already been postponed once due to the film’s political incorrectness according to RAI leadership.

The film, which cost over € 5 million, was filmed with great battle scenes in Romania and Italy. The director’s aim was not necessarily to show that there is evidence to support a comparison between September 11, 1683 and that of 2001. The director stresses that “is not a film against Islam but on the total senselessness of the wars of religion. It’s a movie that focuses on a figure from the depths of history that of a great Christian priest: Marco D’Aviano. Marco D’Aviano was canonized a few years ago by Pope John Paul II, who aware of the priests importance in the history of Europe. Yet, inexplicably, no one knows who is Marco D’Aviano.” The film also focuses on Kara Mustafa, a great Muslim leader (played by Enrico Lo Verso). Both characters are convinced that their God will bring them a superhuman feat: Kara Mustafa wants to destroy Vienna and come to Rome to transform the St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque. Marco D’Aviano wants to prevent this plan.

How Are American Muslims Responding To The Anti-Islam Film?

Muslims have been demonstrating from North Africa to Southeast Asia, often violently, over the film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. But, in America, Muslims have been virtually silent over the video Innocence Of Muslims.

Why the subdued response in the U.S.?

Jonathan Brown, an assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, offers one theory. He thinks some American Muslims are too scared to protest.

“In a post 9/11 world, they’re absolutely frightened to stick their heads out in any way, shape or form,” he says. “They are still apologizing for attacks they didn’t do.”

Many American Muslims are fearful of appearing suspicious, voicing discontent with government or showing any solidarity with Muslims overseas, he argues. And if they do express their opinions, Brown says, they are absolutely tripping over themselves to show how truly moderate and civil they are.

U.S. Muslim groups have come out and condemned the violence abroad, including the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. But aside from that, Muslims in America have stayed on the peripheries, not wanting to be drawn into a fire burning overseas.

Cultural Clash Fuels Muslims Raging at Film

CAIRO — Stepping from the cloud of tear gas in front of the American Embassy here, Khaled Ali repeated the urgent question that he said justified last week’s violent protests at United States outposts around the Muslim world.

“We never insult any prophet — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?” Mr. Ali, a 39-year-old textile worker said, holding up a handwritten sign in English that read “Shut Up America.” “Obama is the president, so he should have to apologize!”

When the protests against an American-made online video mocking the Prophet Muhammad exploded in about 20 countries, the source of the rage was more than just religious sensitivity, political demagogy or resentment of Washington, protesters and their sympathizers here said. It was also a demand that many of them described with the word “freedom,” although in a context very different from the term’s use in the individualistic West: the right of a community, whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish, to be free from grave insult to its identity and values.

In a context where insults to religion are crimes and the state has tightly controlled almost all media, many in Egypt, like other Arab countries, sometimes find it hard to understand that the American government feels limited by its free speech rules from silencing even the most noxious religious bigot.

Some commentators said they regretted that the violence here and around the region had overshadowed the underlying argument against the offensive video. “Our performance came out like that of a failed lawyer in a no-lose case,” Wael Kandil, an editor of the newspaper Sharouq, wrote in a column on Sunday. “We served our opponents something that made them drop the main issue and take us to the margins — this is what we accomplished with our bad performance.”

Film Investigates Immigrant Involvement in Dutch Prostitution

15 May 2012

 

A new film tells the story of a Dutch-Moroccan social worker fighting the ills of sex-trafficking within his community. The country’s 2000 legalization of prostitution and sex trafficking was intended to reduce health and exploitation hazards for sex workers, but filmmaker reports in al-Jazeera coverage of the movie that the country has seen a move away from “old style” Dutch pimps and towards the involvement of some members of immigrant communities. The movie is named after these “Lover Boys”

NYC Mayor Defends Kelly, but Says Anti-Muslim Film Caused Damage

As his administration faces a firestorm over a video shown to hundreds of police officers that depicted Muslims as extremists, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg conceded on Thursday that the episode had damaged relations between the city’s Islamic community and the Police Department.

While the mayor defended the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who has apologized for the showing of the film to officers, he acknowledged that Mr. Kelly would have to work harder to improve trust among Muslims. The video, called “The Third Jihad” was shown for months to officers receiving anti-terrorism training.