German foundation cancels plan to show anti-Islam film excerpts

BERLIN Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:10am EDT

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Berlin's Cinema for Peace Foundation has canceled plans to screen excerpts of the anti-Islam film "The Innocence of Muslims" as part of a panel discussion following deadly protests across the Islamic world.

The foundation, which focuses on humanitarian and environmental issues, had said earlier it wanted to foster a "lively but peaceful" debate on free speech and films that incite religious hatred by screening it and other movies on October 1.

"Due to the controversial discussions and emotions Cinema for Peace will do without the clips from 'Innocence of Muslims', because the foundation does not want to support any further reactions or a further circulation of the film," it said.

The foundation said it still might use parts of other films, including the Dutch film "Submission", which criticizes the treatment of women in Islam and which led to filmmaker Theo van Gogh being stabbed to death by a radical Islamist in Amsterdam in 2004.

It also plans to show parts of Veit Harlan's 1940 anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film "Jud Suess" and Kevin Smith's "Dogma", a satire about Catholicism.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian experts as well as politicians would take place in a debate on freedom of speech and blasphemous films, it said.

A far-right German group known as Pro-Deutschland said last week it wanted to screen "The Innocence of Muslims" in Berlin but had not found a cinema prepared to show it.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who has described the film as an "anti-Islamic hate video", condemned Pro-Deutschland's plan.

German law guarantees freedom of expression but not beyond the point where people feel insulted, he said.

He said authorities would weigh whether to ban any screening. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has said it was not a question of banning the film itself but rather of banning any public screening due to the security risk that would pose.

(Reporting by Sophie Duvernoy and Alexandra Hudson; editing by Jason Neely)

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