Germany wrestles with anti-Islam film ban

2012-09-19 10:05

Berlin - German politicians and Muslim groups are agonising over whether to ban a small far-right group from screening in public an anti-Islam film that has sparked violent protests from Pakistan to Sudan.

The Pro Deutschland (Pro Germany) group has vowed to show the full-length version of the film Innocence of Muslims which was made in America and has been deemed insulting to Islam in a cinema, in Berlin, which has a large Muslim community.

Fearing the sort of violence that has swept parts of the Islamic world, including Germany's own embassy in Khartoum, German authorities have said they will make efforts at banning showing the film.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said such a screening would be a "political action" that would only serve to "pour oil on the fire".

Banning the film, he said, would not constitute an attack on the freedom of expression.

"In this case, I consider it appropriate to consider all legal possibilities linked to the right to hold public demonstrations ... to see how we can act against it," Friedrich told Phoenix rolling news channel on Tuesday.

National security

For her part, Chancellor Angela Merkel told a news conference earlier in the week she could see "good reasons" to prevent the film being screened.

Merkel, who hails from former communist East Germany and often refers to her attachment to freedom of expression, said the question was whether the film was a risk to national security.

Germany itself has come under attack with its embassy in the Sudanese capital being stormed and set ablaze on Friday by protesters as demonstrations against the film swept the Muslim world.

Islamists have frequently deplored the country's military role in Afghanistan, where Germany is the third-largest provider of troops in the Nato-led force.

Merkel also inflamed tempers in September 2010 when she spoke out in defence of a Danish cartoonist whose drawing of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb for a turban, first published in 2005, earned him death threats, as he was given an award in Germany.

Authorities in Berlin, home to more than 100 000 citizens of Turkish descent, called for cinema managers to boycott the film.

Muslim community split

"We should allow no room" for "targeted provocation", said Dilek Kolat, a politician responsible for integration issues in the city-state.

The Muslim community appeared to be split on the issue, however.

The Co-ordinating Council of Muslims (KRM) in Germany called for the video to be banned while the head of the Liberal-Muslim Association said preventing the film from being shown was counter-productive.

"The more this content is made taboo, the more damage is done," Lamya Kaddor told the left-leaning daily Tageszeitung.

Many see the threat to screen the film as the latest provocation from a group with dwindling support.

Pro Deutschland, run by a former neo-Nazi, classifies itself as a "citizens' movement" protesting at what it sees as the "Islamisation of Germany".

German media unanimous

Its protests sometimes attract a mere handful of people and it won 1.2% of the vote in the most recent regional elections in Berlin last year.

It has nevertheless succeeded in sparking debate and occasional violence in Germany, most recently when a regional branch of the party used anti-Islamic caricatures to provoke a group of ultra-conservative Muslims.

German media were near unanimous in the opinion that the film should not be outlawed.

"Should the anti-Islam video that has caused outrage across half the world be banned here in Germany? The answer must be: No," said mass-circulation daily Bild.

The Financial Times Deutschland said that banning the film would be a "victory for the extremists" while the Sueddeutsche Zeitung said it would allow Pro Deutschland to set themselves up as "martyrs for freedom of speech".

  • JManAtheoi - 2012-09-19 11:07

    Its so funny seeing these people getting worked up over this anti-islam film. They are angry that people go against their (way of) religion and whatnot, and show their anger by killing and maiming people, (in the name of islam) burning flags (in the name of islam) etc. No wonder the world is sick of these people and their religion and making these movies etc. If your religion is so "peaceful", why don;t you prove it by being...wait for it...peaceful. And where are the "real" ((peaceful) islamic people condemning these actions if we should not "judge an entire religion by the acts of a few"? ETC? Pathetic.

      SallyBee12 - 2012-09-19 11:39

      Oh deary, deary me. Christians, Muslims, Shinto, Buddhist, doesn't matter WHAT religion, they all use violence to express themselves. It is naive to think that ALL muslims or Islamic or "other" religions unfamiliar to us are "evil" in ALL these faiths and cultures, there are extremists or fanatacists who are twisted and warped of mind. Blaming Islam is NOT the answer, how dare you judge Islam entirely when in the same breathe you preach peace? It's really sad that all people are tarred with the same brush just because of some extremists. Persecution is seems, is alive an well.

      JManAtheoi - 2012-09-19 12:21

      I'm not blaming Islam. I'm asking that if that is not case (as you say) why are they making their point by doing the opposite of what they (are supposed to be ) stand(ing) for, and secondly, why is no-one else in that faith doing anything about it? Why aren't they 'standing up and protesting for Islam' against these extremists? (How dare you not read my comment properly and in the same "breathe" say that i blame Islam.) BTW - i don't think "other" religions are "evil"...I think they all are.

  • stefan.kruger.1297 - 2012-09-19 14:12

    Hate me if you want, but thousands of people over the world is fighting over an Invisible person that not one of them can see, but in all of them its the same person, with a slight twist to a story.. hahahaha!!! Ladies and Gents, Your religion gives you a purpose and a way to live, and it was placed there by the same people that is behind the Governments... And they gave you so that you can take your mind off how AMAZING YOU really are as a Human being... Take all that energy your using on your God, and put it in yourself and see what happens... see what you find inside yourself... Like I said before, your'e Pineal Gland in your brain is the answer to it all... do some research into it... Like the Dalai lama said, all the worlds major religeons, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness, can and do promote inner values, But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate, this is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether...

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