Religious Watch

 2017

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 Updated: Forbidden dreams...

A bounty is offered for the severed heads of film makers of the Indian historical epic Padmavati


Link Here 23rd November 2017
Poster Padmavati 2017 Sanjay Leela Bhansali Padmavati is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. BBFC link IMDb

Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji's lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.

Producers of a Bollywood period epic have indefinitely delayed its release following countrywide protests by Hindu right-wing and caste groups.

The epic in Awadhi language extols the virtue of Padmavati who committed sati, the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, to protect her honour from the invading Muslim emperor Khilji who had killed her husband, the Rajput king, in a battle.

Sati is believed to have originated some 700 years ago among the ruling class or Rajputs in India. The Rajput women burnt themselves after their men were defeated in battles to avoid being taken by the victors. But it came to be seen as a measure of wifely devotion in later years. The custom was outlawed by India's British rulers in 1829 following demands by Indian reformers.

Historians point out that Jayasi's epic ballad about a Muslim emperor attacking a kingdom smitten by the beauty of a Hindu queen was written in the 16th Century, more than 200 years after the historical record of the invasion. They say the folklore around Padmavati have also been problematic as they have glorified sati.

Rumours of a scene in the film of the Muslim king dreaming of getting romantic with the Hindu queen enraged many like the Rajput Karnik Sena, a fringe caste group, who have called for the film to be banned. Director Bhansali has said the film does not feature such dream sequence at all .

Last week, the group, which had disrupted the shooting and slapped Bhansali on the set of the film earlier this year, vandalised cinemas , and threatened to chop off Padukone's nose, referring to a story in the epic Ramayana where a character has her nose chopped off as punishment.

Rajput community members have burnt effigies of Bhansali and sought a ban of the film. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje has said it should not be released until necessary changes are made so that sentiments of any community are not hurt.

A regional leader of the BJP at the weekend announced a reward of nearly $1.5m for anyone beheading Bhansali and Padukone .

Update: BBFC Rating

BBFC logo 23rd November 2017. See article from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC has published its rating for the British cinema release of Padmavati. The film is rated 12A uncut for moderate violence, injury detail.

 

  The sculptor should have used his loaf...

New statue at Australian school covered up after social media comments allude to child abuse


Link Here 22nd November 2017
st dominic. with breadAn Adelaide Catholic school has been forced to cover and cordon off a new statue after the unfortunate placement of a loaf of bread caused a stir online.

Blackfriars Priory School unveiled the statue of St Dominic last week, in which the religious icon is depicted handing a young boy a loaf of bread. But due to a long history of child abuse by the clergy, people saw the loaf of bread as an allusion to a penis.

The school covered the statue with a black cloth after students were found taking inappropriate photos .

 

  Twas the night before Puntmas...

When some Christians were stirred, claiming twas blasphemy that they'd heard


Link Here 12th November 2017
puntmas Australia's advert censor has dismissed a swath of complaints about supposedly offensive Sportsbet adverts that some felt denigrated Christians.

A Sportsbet advertising campaign which used the word Puntmas to describe the racing season has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Bureau following complaints of blasphemy.

The ads feature four men at the racetrack, humming and singing Christmas carols, with a voiceover promoting a new feature of the betting app which allows users to cancel their bets. They end with an appearance from former sprinter Ben Johnson who featured in an earlier ad for the bookmaker which was banned for making light of drug use .

The Advertising Standards Board received a number of complaints, many of which took issue with the association of Christmas and gambling. For them to use it in a gambling ad reaches new lows in the gambling industry, one complaint read.

Regrettably, we live in an era where it has become acceptable to denigrate our Christian heritage, another said. This advertisement deliberately tries to associate gambling with the spirit of Christmas. No doubt gambling will ruin Christmas for many families this year. I find this ad to be in very poor taste.

One person said it was beyond offensive to associate betting with one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, while another said they especially don't want my children to recognise the tune and start to relate Christmas and gambling.

In its response, Sportsbet rejected that the ads in any way discriminated against or vilified any section of the community on account of religion.

The Advertising Standards Board sided with Sportsbet, dismissing the complaints. In its determination, it said many members of the community consider Christmas as a cultural holiday more so than a religious one. [Though] Christmas has significant meaning to some, the use of 'Puntmas' in the context of a promotion of a gambling product may be considered tasteless but such a connection of words does not denigrate Christianity or Christians, the ASB said.

 

  The 6th pillar of islam...

Charlie Hebdo receives a death threat over its latest front cover


Link Here 7th November 2017

charlie hebdo logoStaff at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo have received death threats over a cartoon of the muslim academic Tariq Ramadan who has been accused of rape by two women.

The Charlie Hebdo take on the case was a cartoon depicting Ramadan sporting an impossibly enormous erection (inside his trousers) with the caption: I am the sixth pillar of Islam.

The Paris prosecutor's office has now opened a police inquiry into the death threat.

Laurent Riss Sourisseau, the magazine's editor, said the threats and hate mail had never really stopped after the January 2015 jihadist attack in which 12 people were gunned down at its offices. He said:

It's always difficult to know if these are serious threats or not, but as a principle, we take them seriously and press charges.

 

  Super villains...

Islamist paramilitary group puts a stop to Libya's 2nd Comic Con


Link Here 6th November 2017
comic con libyaLibya's second Comic Con event was brought to a sudden end on Friday when an Islamist paramilitary group raided it, citing a range of offences against Islam.

According to a report, the so-called RADA Special Deterrence Forces (SDF) paramilitary group detained and assaulted some 20 fans. They also seized computers and other equipment, saying that Libya was not a free/liberal country.

They arrested over 20 people. Organisers, participants and visitors. Anyone who was wearing a badge, including visitors, were arrested.

The organiser said that the militants told the detainees that they were rescuing the youth from Comic Con, an event they called destructive and foreign to Islam and Libya, and that they had committed large number of crimes against public morals. These included agnosticism, atheism, masonic ideas, believing in Halloween, distorting the minds of youth and even abandoning Islam altogether.

The organiser ironically noted that the islamists claimed to be concerned about supposed pious morality but had no problem with real violence saying:

Some of those who were released had received a beating, had had their head shaved bald and were given a religious lecture. They were told that Libya was a Muslim country not a free/liberal country.

 

 Updated: Collateral damage...

Advertising mascots get into trouble with the police under a law targeted at prohibiting burkhas


Link Here 22nd October 2017
australia burkha banA man wearing a shark outfit to advertise a computer store been given a police caution after allegedly breaking Austria's new laws that ban burkhas.

The Anti-Mask Act, prohibiting full-face coverings including headwear worn by some Muslims, came into force on 1 October. The law states faces must be visible from the hairline to the chin in public places. Off-piste ski masks, surgical masks outside of hospitals and party masks are included. But the law, which is popularly known as the burkha ban, is mostly seen as aimed at Islamic clothing.

The managing director of the advertising agency responsible for the campaign, Eugen Prosquill, told the newspaper he was not aware the new law applied to mascots. It would be a pity if there were no mascots left, he said.

Update: Mascots get into trouble so that the authorities can make a token gesture about the 'fairness' of a face covering ban

Thanks to Nick
22nd October 2017 See  article from dw.com

lego ninja mascotAustria's new ban on covering the face was meant to target the burqa. But the law has had police responding to a Lego Ninja, a man dressed as a shark and even the parliamentary mascot.

Austrian police raided a Lego store in the capital, Vienna, on Friday, in the latest bizarre case surrounding enforcement of new anti-burqa laws.  Police rushed to the toy store after receiving a complaint that a red Lego Ninja was violating a ban on wearing face coverings, leading to a "heated" argument, Kronen Zeitung newspaper reported.

No fines were issued to the woman wearing the costume after she took off the head covering, the Vienna police said on Twitter, because the concealment of the face was within the scope of her "professional occupation."

 

  But obviously 'real' christians wouldn't do anything like that...

Violent christians attempt to siege theatre showing a supposedly blasphemous play


Link Here 19th October 2017
a hora do diabo fernando pessoaGreek riot police have used violence to stop an attempted theatre invasion by monks, priests and other Orthodox Christians protesting what they claim is a blasphemous play.

Wielding poles , some of the 100-strong crowd tried to break a police cordon outside the Aristoteleion Theatre in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

Protesters oppose the staging of The Hour of the Devil, an adaptation of a story by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa about a discussion between a young woman and a devil.

 

 Update: Burning passions...

Russian christians still getting wound up by the film Matilda


Link Here 1st October 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
matildaThe Russian Orthodox Church has erected 300 billboards in Moscow displaying words about love exchanged between the last tsar and his wife. The displays are the latest actions in a campaign trying to get the Russian film, Matilda banned.

The film explores the love affair between Nicholas II and a ballerina. It has wound up the christians because they consider the emperor to be a saint.  MP Natalya Poklonskaya is leading the campaign and explains:

You can't touch saints and you can't show them having sex

Violent ctivists have burnt cars outside the offices of the production company and threatened to disrupt screenings. The biggest cinema chain will not show the film to protect cinemagoers when it opens later this month.

 

 Update: Stay away culture...

UN report reveals that, as Malaysia moves to more religious extremism, it has become an unattractive place for visiting artists and performers


Link Here 30th September 2017  full story: Pop Stars in Malaysia...Malaysia not much into the world of pop stars
Malaysia flagOrganizers of pop concerts and some other big events are increasingly wary of including Malaysia on their itineraries due to growing intolerance toward activities regarded as insulting to Islam by some Muslim groups.

The promoters say that international music stars, especially those known for risque lyrics or revealing clothing, are unlikely to be brought to Malaysia as part of regional or global tours. The same goes for any gatherings that could in any way be deemed un-Islamic.

A United Nations cultural rights expert warned in a report last week that there is growing pressure to adopt a more narrow interpretation of the Islamic religion and identity in Malaysia, which excludes the country's cross-cultural history, marginalizes religious minorities, and fails to take account of the diversity of Malay Muslims.

 

 Updated: Lamb of gods...

Australian lamb marketing advert offends the easily offended


Link Here 15th September 2017
lamb advert video Australia's Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) will investigate complaints made about an lamb marketing campaign that has angered the easily offended.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) launched an amusing advert featuring actors portraying Jesus, Lord Ganesh, L. Ron Hubbard and Buddha.

So far the ASB has received about 30 complaints about the ad. An ASB spokesperson told SBS World News most people who complained about the ad cited discrimination and vilification on the grounds of religion.

MLA Group marketing manager Andrew Howie explained the advert:

Lamb is the meat that brings people together. Our 'You Never Lamb Alone' campaigns have promoted the value of unity and inclusivity. This latest campaign instalment is no different, 

Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms, and minds.

Howie also pointed out Ganesh was sitting across the table from Buddha, another vegetarian. Neither of them are eating meat or drinking wine but they were willing participants at the party which we would hope everyone can come together and celebrate their difference.

Not all deities were represented at the dinner table. To save offending muslims with a depiction of Mohammed, he was conveniently unable to make the dinner party.

Hindu Council of Ausralia spokesperson Balesh Dhankhar said they were very hurt and angry about this ad campaign. The reason being the Hindu community cannot imagine their deity, Lord Ganesh in this case, as eating meat. Dhankhar said most people who follow Hinduism were vegetarians and seeing Lord Ganesh in this manner was very insulting. He said the Hindu community was one of the fastest growing in Australia and seeing the deity depicted in this manner went against the country's values.

Update: India is offended

10th September 2017 See article from bbc.com

high commission of india logoThe High Commission of India in Canberra said it had made a demarche to three Australian government departments. It also urged Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to withdraw the advertisement because many people considered it offensive and hurting their religious sentiments.

A number of community associations have also registered their protest with government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia, the high commission said in a statement.

Update: And of course Rajan Zed

12th September 2017 See article from rajanzed.org

rajan zed website logoEternal whinger Rajan Zed has called for a ban of the Meat & Livestock Australia lamb advert.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that it was highly irresponsible of MLA to continue with this ad despite the clear expression by Hindus that it was very inappropriate and hurt their feelings.

Rajan Zed also urged Australia Advertising Standards Bureau to act urgently on the various complaints received by it regarding this ad.

Besides withdrawing the ad immediately, MLA Board Chair Dr. Michele Allan and Managing Director Richard Norton should resign for apparently working against the interests of the organization by upsetting consumers instead of charming them, and using cheap tactics to attract attention instead of seriously attempting to prevent consumers from reducing their lamb consumption, Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed had sought ban on You Never Lamb Alone video ad, which seemed to make fun of Lord Ganesha. Zed pointed out that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and he was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed. Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with meat was very disrespectful and highly inappropriate, Zed added.

YouTube logoUpdate: Censored by YouTube

14th September 2017 See  article from thedrum.com

YouTube has removed the You Never Lamb Alone advert by Meat & Livestock Australia in India after requests from the Indian government.

A message on the video now reads for Indian viewers: this content is not on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.

Update: Banned in Thailand

15th September 2017 See  article from khaosodenglish.com

Thailand flagFight of Gods is no longer available for purchase from within Thailand on Steam. This item is currently unavailable in your region, notes the entry in Steam's online store.

After the game was released, Buddhist officials in Thailand expressed outrage. Booncherd Kittitharangkoon, the director of a state agency that governs monks and temples, told reporters that the game could damage Buddhism.

Booncherd said he had asked the Culture of Censorship Ministry to send a complaint to Taiwanese game developer Digital Crafter. He warned that Thai authorities could take legal action if some characters were not removed.

A spokesman for British developer, PQube acknowledged that Thailand has formally demanded that the game be removed from sale in their territory.

 

 Update: Culture of religious violence...

Russian minister steps in to try and deter christians from threatening violence against cinemas showing the movie Matilda


Link Here 14th September 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
matilda 2017 aleksey uchitelMatilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram. IMDb

In the twilight of Imperial Russia, prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya becomes the mistress of three Grand Dukes.

Any attempts to exert pressure on cinemas over the screenings of Matilda , a movie describing the love story of last Russian emperor Nicholas II and a ballet dancer, are censorship and lawlessness, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said on Wednesday. He told TASS:

Any intentions of 'initiators' on the ground to ban the screenings, any attempts of pressure against private or municipal cinemas are pure lawlessness and censorship, which is directly against the Russian Constitution.

The Culture Ministry allows the screenings at cinemas in line with legal procedures, Medinsky explained. The law strictly describes the grounds for any refusal. There are none of them in case with Matilda. We are guided by the law, not private tastes.

The minister called on Russian law enforcement agencies to ensure the rule of law in the situation with Matilda and curb any pressure on the state and cinema business from activists with their socially dangerous methods of imposing their views.

Violence by orthodox christians has started in anticipation of the film's release on 26th October. A number of activists including MP Natalia Poklonskaya, Crimea's former prosecutor, have launched a campaign against the film calling for its release to be cancelled and claiming that it will insult the feelings of Orthodox believers. On Monday night, two cars were set ablaze outside the office of Uchitel's lawyer, Konstantin Dobrynin, in downtown Moscow. The attorney posted photos of the charred automobiles and notes left at the scene saying Burn for Matilda on his Facebook page.

A group calling itself Christian State, Holy Russia sent nearly a thousand letters with threats to movie theater owners across Russia, urging them to drop the screening of Matilda.

 

 Updated: Holy ass kicking...

Malaysian censors get offended by video game featuring fighting religious deities


Link Here 12th September 2017
fight of godsThe video game distribution website, Steam, has been blocked in Malaysia.

Censors at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) took offence at a game called, Fight of Gods, and took immediate action by denying citizens access to the Steam store.

Apparently Valve, the company behind the Steam website were given the chance to block the offending game from Malaysia gamers but did not respond quickly enough for the authorities. Malaysians who try to access the store get the message in English and Malay:

This website is not available in Malaysia as it violate(s) the National law(s).

Fight of Gods pits mythological deities, Jesus included, against one another. Promotional material for Fight of Gods reads:

Your prayers have been answered! For the first time ever, gods, holy spirits and mythological characters from around the globe and throughout history will clash in an explosive 2D fighter where the entire world is at stake!

Who will prevail in the ultimate battle of gods? Will Jesus, fresh from ripping himself off the sacrificial cross, smite all his foes with the power of his Punishment Fist?

Can Buddha slap his opponents into submission?

Harness the power of fire, lightning, water, plagues and more as you pit gods and prophets such as Odin, Zeus, Amaterasu, Anubis, Moses and Athena against one another in one of the most unique and outlandish fighters ever created.

The games company debuted a trailer featuring Jesus this week . That caused quite a stir, with mainstream media outlets gleefully reporting Jesus' addition to the game, with his deadpan fight introduction voice-over of I'm back, for the people. Jesus then rips himself off his cross and uses the remaining wood to beat a variety of opponents. Mohamed is notably missing from the line-up of foes.

Fight of Gods publisher PQube has provided a statement:

Fight of Gods is a video game that takes a humorous approach to religion in the same way that other entertainment formats have -- across television, film, books and theatre.

The game is not promoting any religious agenda and is not designed to offend. The description of the game on the digital platforms through which it is distributed provide clear guidance on the nature of the game and its content so that people can freely choose whether or not to play it. We fully respect the choice of those who would not wish to play it.

We are disappointed that such freedom of choice is not given to everyone and in particular that the game has been forcibly removed from sale in Malaysia, although no direct communication has been received by us as to the reasons for this.

Update: Thai Buddhists too

12th September 2017 See  article from nationmultimedia.com

knowing buddha logoManat Chareekote, of the Knowing Buddha Organisation, described his group as a Thai non-profit agency seeking to protect Buddhist symbols from being subjected to disrespect. In a letter to the gaming company, Manat said:

The Buddha image had been wrongfully appropriated in the game. It desperately saddens us to see the image of our respected father used in such a role in the game like this. It really breaks Buddhists' hearts all around the world. How could you and your team hurt and offend others' beliefs?

Religious and historical images were meant to be respected. It was inappropriate to use them for entertainment or commercial purposes.

His organisation caused for the games company to cease selling the game in every country where it was distributed.

Update: And of course Rajan Zed

12th September 2017 See article from rajanzed.org

rajan zed website logoEternal whinger Rajan Zed has censured Fight of Gods video game saying that it trivializes some highly revered religious figures.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that unnecessarily dragging religious figures into battle, who were greatly revered by the adherents of their respective faiths, to sell video game for mercantile greed was very disrespectful, highly inappropriate, insensitive and could be disturbing for some faithful.

Rajan Zed further said that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. ..BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.

 

 Update: Possessed by censors...

Annabelle 2 is banned in Lebanon over claims that it is offensive to the christian faith


Link Here 23rd August 2017  full story: Banned Films in Lebanon...Beirut Hotel
Poster Annabelle Creation 2017 David F Sandberg Annabelle 2 is a 2017 USA horror mystery thriller by David F Sandberg.
Starring Miranda Otto, Philippa Coulthard and Stephanie Sigman. IMDb

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker's possessed creation, Annabelle.

The new horror film Annabelle 2: Creation was scheduled to debut in Lebanon this past weekend but authorities decided to pull the film from theaters because clergy found it offensive to the Christian faith.

According to Lebanese daily Annahar, movie theaters throughout the country were asked to hold off on running the film for further deliberation because Christian leaders took issue with some of its scenes. Cinemacity, however, confirmer that the film was definitely blocked and will in fact not be screened in the country at all.

The movie was reportedly screened for the General Security's Censorship Bureau earlier in the month and then was passed on to the censorship committee. Annahar reported that Catholic Priests Fr. Abdu Abu Kasm and Fr. Athanasius Shahwan were both present at the censorship committee's screening. Father Shahwan had the final word and he demanded that the film be blocked over scenes that are considered offensive to Christian faith.

The specific scenes in question were not mentioned but many believe the objection comes from the fact that nuns are the ones being victimized in the movie's plot.

 

 Update: Russia's relationship czar...

Government film censors clear the movie Matilda for release disappointing the religious leaders calling for a ban


Link Here 19th August 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Russia...Offending religious beliefs or desecration of holy objects or symbols
Poster Matilda 2017 Aleksey Uchitel Matilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram. IMDb

In the twilight of Imperial Russia, prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya becomes the mistress of three Grand Dukes.

A historical film about the last Russian czar's affair with a ballerina has been cleared for release by film censors at the Russian Culture Ministry. Vyasheslav Telnov, the head of the ministry's film department, said it checked Matilda and found it in full compliance with legal norms.

Matilda, which describes Nicholas II's relationship with Matilda Kshesinskaya has drawn virulent criticism from some Orthodox christians and hard-line nationalists, who see it as blasphemy against the emperor, glorified as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. 

Russian lawmaker Natalya Poklonskaya spearheaded the campaign for banning the film. She even asked the Prosecutor General's office to carry out an inquiry into Matilda, which is set to be released on the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

Matilda opponents have gathered signatures against the film, and earlier this month several hundred people gathered to pray outside a Moscow church for the movie to be banned. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed regional leader of Chechnya has supported the calls for a ban, as have authorities in the neighboring province of Dagestan.

 

  Stony reception...

Statute of Chinese god covered up in Indonesia in response to muslim threats


Link Here 13th August 2017
guan yuAfter Muslims threatened to tear down a 100-ft statue of a Chinese god, authorities in Indonesia's East Java Province moved swiftly to cover it up with an enormous sheet last weekend amid mounting ethnic and religious tensions across the country.

The Islamist campaign against the statue, a depiction of the third-century general Guan Yu, who is worshiped as a god in several Chinese religions, began online and soon spread to the gates of a Chinese Confucian temple in Tuban, near the Java Sea coast, where the figure was erected last month.

On social media, Muslims assailed the statue as an uncivilized affront to Islam and the island's home people, and a mob gathered this week outside the East Java legislature in the city of Surabaya to demand its destruction.

 

  Tip toeing on religious sensitivities...

Orthodox christians in Russia petition to ban the film Matilda


Link Here 12th August 2017
Poster Matilda 2017 Aleksey Uchitel Matilda is a 2017 Russia historical biography by Aleksey Uchitel.
Starring Michalina Olszanska, Lars Eidinger and Luise Wolfram. IMDb

In the twilight of Imperial Russia, prima ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya becomes the mistress of three Grand Dukes.

Russian Orthodox Christians have protested against the decision to release a film depicting Nicholas II's affair with a teenage ballerina. Wannabe censors of Matilda have started a petition against the film.

Earlier this month, several hundred people gathered to outside a Moscow church, praying for the movie to be banned. Many of the film's critics see it as blasphemy against the emperor, who is still greatly revered by the Russian Orthodox Church.

On Thursday, however, the Russian Culture Ministry finally announced that the film had received official clearance for release. Vyasheslav Telnov, the head of the Russian Culture Ministry's film department, said:

There is no censorship in Russia, and the ministry of culture stays away from any ideological views of beliefs. A feature film can't be banned for political or ideological motives.

Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church still exercises significant pressure in Russia. It has recently played a role in the shutting down of an exhibition displaying nude photos and the cancellation of a performance of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

 

 Update: Freely criticised...

The UN Human Rights Committee has told Pakistan to improve human rights and end its blasphemy laws


Link Here 4th August 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Pakistan...Blasphemy laws used for personal vendettas
UN logoThe UN's Human Rights Committee has told Pakistan to end its blasphemy laws and do more to protect religious minorities.

It criticised the Pakistani government's wider record on free expression, including its use of religiously biased content in textbooks and curricula in public schools and madrassas. Defamation is a criminal offence in Pakistan, and there have been legal crackdowns on the media.

It said Pakistan should review its laws relating to freedom of expression and repeal all blasphemy laws or amend them in compliance with the strict requirements of the covenant. Article 19 of Pakistan's constitution gives citizens the right to free expression, but allows for reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the 'glory of Islam'. Pakistan has also limited free speech for its broadcast media.

The committee asked Pakistan to report within a year to explain how it is implementing its recommendations on freedom of religion, conscience and belief.

 

 Update: Fighting terrorism...

Ofcom imposes large fine for Afghanistan channel that glorified terrorism


Link Here 7th July 2017  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
atn logoOn 20 July 2016, Ariana International broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out a terrorist attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people. Ofcom wrote:

Ariana International is a general entertainment channel originating from Afghanistan, and broadcast by satellite in the UK.

On 20 July 2016, the Licensee broadcast a news item which featured a video produced by an individual, Muhammad Riyad, before he carried out an attack on a train in Germany where he injured five people.

In the video, Muhammad Riyad stated that he was a "Mujahid [holy warrior] of Islamic State". He also stated his and ISIL's intentions to carry out acts of extreme violence against members of the public and his words could be interpreted as being a direct call to action to members of the Muslim community to join ISIL and to commit violence, up to, and including murder, against members of the police and the army in the West.

The news item made clear that "Daish" have now accepted that this young man [i.e. Mr Riyad] was one of their followers". In addition, it has bee n widely reported that several individuals, such as Muhammad Riyad, have been inspired to carry out acts of violence in the name of ISIL.

Ofcom's Executive found that material in the Ariana News programme breached Rules 2.3, 3.1 and 3.2 of the Code.

Rule 3.1: Material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.

Rule 3.2: Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context.

Ofcom's Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £200,000. Ofcom also considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

 

 Update: Burning passion for free speech...

Denmark repeals its blasphemy law and drops a prosecution for Quran burning


Link Here 5th June 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech
Denmark flagA Danish man who posted a video of himself burning the Quran on Facebook will not stand trial after politicians abolished an outdated blasphemy law.

The man was seen setting a large leather-bound copy of the holy book alight in a four-minute clip called Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns.

He faced up to four months in prison after prosecutors were alerted to the footage, which was posted to a Facebook group called Yes to freedom -- no to Islam in December 2015. They brought blasphemy charges under clause 140 of Denmark's penal code, which bars people from publicly insulting or degrading religious doctrines or worship.

But the case has been dropped after Danish MPs revoked the 334-year-old legislation, and declared they do not believe that there should be special rules protecting religions against expressions. MP Bruno Jerup told the Jyllands-Posten newspaper:

Religion should not dictate what is allowed and what is forbidden to say publicly.  It gives religion a totally unfair priority in society.

Threatening or degrading behaviour based on people's religious beliefs will still be punishable under other Danish laws.

 

  Symbolic censorship...

Statue of justice removed from the Bangladesh Supreme Court


Link Here 26th May 2017
themis dhakaWorkers have begun to dismantle the statue of a Greek goddess from Bangladesh's Supreme Court complex, after an outcry from muslim extremists.

The sculpture of Themis, the goddess of justice, wearing a sari was less than six months old, but Islamist groups demanded its removal. They claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims. The censorship had been demanded at mass protests in Dhaka. The protesters claimed that the figure, which held the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounted to idolatry.

The statue's creator  Mrinal Haque said it is being removed to maintain peace.

 

 Update: Ending the god given right to ban the criticism of religion...

Petitioners call for the abolition of Denmark's blasphemy law


Link Here 16th May 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech

Denmark flagDenmark's blasphemy ban was recently revived when a man was charged for burning the Quran. Signatories argue that an expression grossly offensive to religious believers merits protection as peaceful 'free speech'.

We the undersigned respectfully urge the Danish Parliament to vote in favour of bill L 170 repealing the blasphemy ban in section 140 of the Danish criminal code, punishing "Any person who, in public, ridicules or insults the dogmas or worship of any lawfully existing religious community".

Denmark is recognized as a global leader when it comes to the protection of human rights and freedom of expression. However, Denmark's blasphemy ban is manifestly inconsistent with the Danish tradition for frank and open debate, and puts Denmark in the same category as illiberal states where blasphemy laws are being used to silence dissent and persecute minorities. The recent decision to charge a man -- who had burned the Quran -- for violating section 140 for the first time since 1971, demonstrates that the blasphemy ban is not merely of symbolic value. It represents a significant retrograde step in the protection of freedom of expression in Denmark.

The Danish blasphemy ban is incompatible with both freedom of expression and equality before the law. There is no compelling reason why the feelings of religious believers should receive special protection against offense. In a vibrant and pluralistic democracy, all issues must be open to even harsh and scathing debate, criticism and satire. While the burning of holy books may be grossly offensive to religious believers it is nonetheless a peaceful form of symbolic expression that must be protected by free speech.

Numerous Danes have offended the religious feelings of both Christians and Muslims without being charged under section 140. This includes a film detailing the supposed erotic life of Jesus Christ, the burning of the Bible on national TV and the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed. The Cartoon affair landed Denmark in a storm of controversy and years of ongoing terrorist threats against journalists, editors and cartoonists. When terror struck in February 2015 the venue was a public debate on blasphemy and free speech.

In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended. In this environment Denmark must maintain that in a liberal democracy laws protect those who offend from threats, not those who threaten from being offended.Retaining the blasphemy ban is also incompatible with Denmark's human rights obligations. In April 2017 Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagtland emphasized that "blasphemy should not be deemed a criminal offence as the freedom of conscience forms part of freedom of expression". This position is shared by the UN's Human Rights Committee and the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression and Religion.

Since 2014,The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland and Malta have all abolished blasphemy bans. By going against this trend Denmark will undermine the crucial European and international efforts to repeal blasphemy bans globally.

This has real consequences for human beings, religious and secular, around the globe. In countries like Pakistan, Mauritania, Iran, Indonesia and Russia blasphemy bans are being used against minorities and political and religious dissenters. Denmark's blasphemy ban can be used to legitimize such laws. In 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion or Belief pointed out that "During a conference held in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) [in 2015], the Danish blasphemy provision was cited by one presenter as an example allegedly indicating an emerging international customary law on "combating defamation of religions".

Blasphemy laws often serve to legitimize violence and terror. In Pakistan, Nigeria and Bangladesh free thinkers, members of religious minorities and atheists have been killed by extremists. In a world where freedom of expression is in retreat and extremism on the rise, democracies like Denmark must forcefully demonstrate that inclusive, pluralistic and tolerant societies are built on the right to think, believe and speak freely. By voting to repeal the blasphemy ban Denmark will send a clear signal that it stands in solidarity with the victims and not the enforcers of blasphemy laws.

Jacob Mchangama, Executive director, Justitia
Steven Pinker, Professor Harvard University
Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury, Exiled editor of Shuddhashar, 2016 winner International Writer of Courage Award
Pascal Bruckner, Author
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Human Rights Activist Founder of AHA Foundation,
Dr. Elham Manea, academic and human rights advocate (Switzerland)
Sultana Kamal, Chairperson, Centre for Social Activism Bangladesh
Deeyah Khan, CEO @Fuuse & founder @sister_hood_mag.
Fatou Sow, Women Living Under Muslim Laws
William Nygaard, Publisher
Flemming Rose, Author and journalist
Jodie Ginsberg, CEO, Index on Censorship
Kenan Malik, Author of From Fatwa to Jihad
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director Article 19
Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN America
Pragna Patel - Director of Southall Black Sisters
Leena Krohn, Finnish writer
Jeanne Favret-Saada, Honorary Professor of Anthropology, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes,
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Fariborz Pooya, Host of Bread and Roses TV
Frederik Stjernfelt, Professor, University of Aalborg in Copenhagen
Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism Is A Women's Issue
Michael De Dora, Director of Government Affairs, Center for Inquiry
Robyn Blumner, President & CEO, Center for Inquiry
Nina Sankari, Kazimierz Lyszczynski Foundation (Poland).
Sonja Biserko, Founder and president of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
James Lindsay, Author
Mahal Mali, Publisher and editor, Areo Magazine
Julie Lenarz - Executive Director, Human Security Centre, London
Terry Sanderson President, National Secular Society
Greg Lukianoff, CEO and President, FIRE
Thomas Cushman, Professor Wellesley College
Nadine Strossen, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, New York Law School
Simon Cottee, the Freedom Project, Wellesley College
Paul Cliteur, professor of Jurisprudence at Leiden University
Lino Veljak, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Lalia Ducos, Women's Initiative for Citizenship and Universals Rights , WICUR
Lepa Mladjenovic, LC, Belgrade
Elsa Antonioni, Casa per non subire violenza, Bologna
Bobana Macanovic, Autonomos Women's Center, Director, Belgrade
Harsh Kapoor, Editor, South Asia Citizens Web
Mehdi Mozaffari, Professor Em., Aarhus University, Denmark
Øystein Rian, Historian, Professor Emeritus University of Oslo
Kjetil Jakobsen, Professor Nord University
Scott Griffen, Director of Press Freedom Programmes International Press Institute (IPI)
Henryk Broder, Journalist
David Rand, President, Libres penseurs athées, Atheist freethinkers Tom Herrenberg, Lecturer University of Leiden
Simone Castagno, Coordinamento Liguria Rainbow
Laura Caille, Secretary General Libres Mariannes General
Andy Heintz, writer
Bernice Dubois, Conseil Européen des Fédérations WIZO

 

 Updated: Why are people so ready to believe ludicrous claims?...

Irish police investigate Stephen Fry for blasphemy over an old TV programme highlighting the nastiness and injustice of God


Link Here 9th May 2017
stephen fry gay byrne video Police in Ireland are investigating a complaint of blasphemy regarding comments made by Stephen Fry on a television programme shown on Ireland's state broadcaster, RTE in 2015?.

Under Ireland's Defamation Act 2009 a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material shall be guilty of an offence .

While being interviewed on The Meaning of Life TV programme, Fry was asked what he would say to God if he had a chance. Fry replied:

I'd say 'Bone cancer in children, what's that about?' How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?

Fry's humerous and powerful reply on YouTube has been viewed more than seven million times.

A member of the public, who asked not to be identified, said he made the complaint against Fry more than two years ago at Ennis garda station in County Clare. After hearing nothing for 18 months, the complainant wrote to the head of the Irish police, Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan. The man was then contacted by a detective from Donnybrook garda station in Dublin to say they were looking into the blasphemy claim.

Gardai logoUpdate: Police see the light and drop the prosecution

9th May 2017 See  article from independent.co.uk

An Irish police investigation into allegedly blasphemous comments made by Stephen Fry has been dropped after detectives decided there were not enough people who had been outraged by the remarks. A source told the Irish Independent:

This man was simply a witness and not an injured party. Gardai were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people. For this reason the investigation has been concluded.

Offsite Comment: Stephen Fry and the new blasphemy laws  

9th May 2017 See  article from spiked-online.com

Spiked logoThe complaint itself should not worry us. Of far greater significance is the fact that the police feel compelled to take complaints like this seriously. One would expect them to point out that a citizen's private sensibilities are no concern for the state, and that even unpleasant people may exercise their right to say unpleasant things.

...Read the full  article from spiked-online.com

 

 Update: Derogatory censorship...

India's film censors re-affirm their ban of the gay film Ka Bodyscapes.


Link Here 8th March 2017  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
Poster Ka Bodyscapes 2016 Jayan Cherian Ka Bodyscapes is a 2016 India / USA gay drama by Jayan Cherian.
Starring Adhithi, Tinto Arayani and Arundhathi. IMDb

Three young people, Haris, a gay painter; Vishnu, a rural kabaddi player and their friend Sia, an activist who refuse to conform to dominant norms of femininity, struggle to find space and happiness in a conservative Indian City.

Ka Bodyscapes was originally banned by the Indian film censors of the CBFC in July 2016.

The distributors challenged the ban in court resulting in a September 2016 court order for the censors to explain their ban and to consider possible cuts instead.

But the CBFC decided to appeal against the court order and re-affirmed their ban in March 2017. A 2nd Revising Committee from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes, saying it glorified the subject of gay and homosexual relationship and portrayed the Hindu religion in a derogatory manner by showing Hanuman in poor light as gay . It also objected to the portrayal of a Muslim woman masturbating.

 

 Update: Backward looking...

Denmark resurrects old style blasphemy law to prosecute a man for burning a Koran


Link Here 1st March 2017  full story: Blasphemy in Denmark...Danish Not So Free Speech
Denmark flagDenmark is one of the most rational and least religious countries in the world. Yet as of this week, it is one of the very few countries in the Western world where a blasphemy law is in active use.

The country's state prosecution service has decided to bring blasphemy charges (and the suggestion of a fine, not a prison term) against a man who burned a copy of the Koran in his garden and then posted the video on an anti-Islamic Facebook group.

Denmark has considered abolishing blasphemy but a panel of experts recommended in favour of letting the sleeping dog lie. Until this week, the blasphemy law had not been used since 1971, and in fact the last successful prosecution was in 1946.

The Economist commented:

Using the old-fashioned charge of blasphemy (with the implication that religions or philosphical systems have a right to be shielded from attack) is surely the worst possible signal that a liberal democracy could send to a world where trumped-up or malicious charges of blasphemous behaviour are causing untold suffering, from the cities of Punjab to the villages of Nigeria.

 

  The wrong kind of 'free speech'...

Turkish magazine closed down over cartoon deemed offensive


Link Here 18th February 2017
girgir banned cartoonThe publisher of one of Turkey's most prominent cartoon magazines  shut down the weekly and fired all its staff over a cartoon of Moses it deemed to be offensive. The publisher sad in a statement:

The decision has been taken for the magazine to be closed and all the staff laid off because of the distasteful cartoon.

The cartoon has disturbed society and disturbed us as a publishing company

Girgir had published in its latest edition a cartoon showing the bearded Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, with his companions complaining and using strong language. Presumably for reasons of censorship and political correctness, the cartoon remains untranslated.

The publishers blamed the cartoon on a deliberate attempt to put the company in a difficult situation, and said it would inform prosecutors of which employees were behind it.

Turkey's president Erdogan weighed in with a reminder that 'free speech'  only applies to things he agrees with. His spokesman tweeted that:

This has nothing to do with freedom of speech or humor. This is immoral and a hate crime.

 

  Wrong type of baddies...

Pakistan bans Indian action film Raees for its depiction of muslim terrorists


Link Here 7th February 2017
raees Raees is a 2017 India action crime thriller by Rahul Dholakia.
Starring Sunny Leone, Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. BBFC link IMDb

BBFC category cuts were required for a 12A rated 2017 cinema release. The film was banned in Pakistan.

Pakistan: Banned in February 2017

The film was banned in Pakistan due to its objectionable content. A source from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) said:

Owing to subtle portrayal of Muslims as violent criminals and terrorists, the recommendations forwarded by the CBFC panel deemed the film is unsuitable for public screening.

We could not issue a certificate because the film portrays Islam and a particular Muslim sect in negative light.

Summary Notes

The film is set in the early 80's and 90's in Gujarat. The fictitious story of a man who builds an empire in the state of Gujarat, the only state that still follows prohibition. It's a story about his rise and his relationships, which help him become the single most powerful man in the state.

Update: A little more about the background for the ban

10th February 2017 See  article from breitbart.com

The problem, as FirstPost explains, is that Raees tells the true story of a Muslim in the 1980s who indulges in the trade of liquor. The movie was deemed insulting to Islam because it subtly portrays Muslims as criminals, violent terrorists, wanted men, and gangsters.

In other words, it is an action film about a bootlegger who was a Muslim. The real-life individual who inspired the film became a Robin Hood-style folk hero and grew influential in politics.

 

  Diplomatically Incorrect...

Erdogan berates Merkel for using the term 'islamist terrorism'


Link Here 3rd February 2017
recep tayyip erdoganTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for using the expression Islamist terrorism , saying the phrase saddened Muslims.

After a meeting in Ankara Merkel said:

We spoke in detail about...the questions of the fight against Islamist terrorism, against every form of terrorism, also the terrorism of the PKK.

Erdogan, sitting next to Mrs Merkel, was stony-faced as she used the phrase Islamist terrorism .  Erdogan, glancing sternly at the German chancellor, pointedly remarked:

This expression "Islamist terror" seriously saddens us Muslims. Such an expression is not correct because Islam and terror cannot be associated. The meaning of Islam is peace.

It has become a bit of a political correctness issue for the media and politicians to report on world violence and terrorism when a disproportionately large number of news items are initiated by muslims. Maybe there can never be a polite or acceptable word to describe this association. But neither is the association easy to cover up. If motivations or allegiances of terrorists are not reported, then readers/viewers simply notice the rather obvious omission and simply infer that this must be due to it being related to islam.

 

  Don't mention Fawlty Towers...

Lithuanian TV show taken off air after a nazi salute in a charades based game


Link Here 13th January 2017
virginija buneviciute nazi saluteA Lithuanian actress and former politician made a Nazi-like gesture on a TV show, which was subsequently taken off the air.

The actress Asta Baukute was about to win, she jumped off her seat upon recognizing a melody by Lithuanian composer Simonas Donskovas, who is of Jewish heritage. She then made the gestures and yelled Jew, Jew, Jew in Lithuanian.

Neither the show host, the contenders nor anyone in the audience objected to her gesture.

Lithuania's public television, LRT, apologized for a live show called Guess the Melody in which a popular actress made gestures representing Adolf Hitler's moustache while raising her arm in a Nazi-style salute. LRT's deputy manager, Rimvydas Paleckis, expressed shock on the channel's Facebook page, saying:

This is in no way compatible with our values. The show is closed.

The local Jewish community expressed dismay at the incident.

 

  Political agitation...

Finnish MP fined for voicing popular sentiments about terrorists


Link Here 6th January 2017
Finland flagA Finnish MP has been fined for a Facebook post calling for a muslim-free Finland. Teuvo Hakkarainen from the nationalist Finns party was fined 1,160 euro for 'agitation against an ethnic group'.

Hakkarainen, whose party is part of the country's coalition government, made the call in a comment on the terrorist truck attack in France last July that killed 86 people. He said in the post:

All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.

The Finns party said it would next month discuss possible political sanctions for him.

 

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