Fitna bandwagon update

The Fitna bandwagon just keeps on rolling. Indonesia are leading the pack at the moment, banning broadcasts of the film and barring Geert Wilders from entering the country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged fellow Muslims in the country on Monday night not to use violence, vandalism or conduct a sweep against opponents in protests against the film, saying Islam and other religions never allow such a way.

But he also insisted that world leaders have a moral obligation to prevent religious or cultural defamation, which they dont.

In Malaysia, the countrys national religious council called the film an insult it Islam and called for a boycott of Dutch products.

And a group of 53 Jordanian MPs have delivered a petition to their government in Amman, demanding that it break all diplomatic ties with the Netherlands. They also want the Dutch ambassador expelled from the country.

Copyrighting deities

According to BosNewsLife (via), Malaysian authorities are threatening not to renew the publishing license of a Catholic weekly newspaper if it continues to use the word Allah in its Malay language section.

The Herald, the organ of Malaysias Catholic Church, has translated the word God as Allah but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim god, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministrys publications control department, in remarks monitored by BosNewsLife Friday, December 21. Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god.

The Malay language Bible uses Allah for God and Tuhan for Lord. This is the convention that the Herald in their Malay language section. Che Din Yusoff, however, insists that, since Christians dont say Allah when speaking English, they shouldnt be allowed to use the word in Malay either.

The use of Allah outside of Islam has previously attracted the attention of the religiously over-sensitive. Four years ago, an Iban language version of the Bible was reportedly banned because it translated the word God as Allah Taala, which is a bit like the Islamic Allah.

Malaysian Muslims offended by comedy

Evan Almighty poster Evan Almighty, a sequel to Bruce Almighty, stars Steve Carell as an American congressman to whom God hands the task of building an ark ready for the next big flood.

No, it didnt strike me as being a very funny idea either, but offensive? Apparently so.

Malaysia’s influential Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) has decided that the film is insulting to Islam and is demanding that the film be banned.

They also object to the fact that Morgan Freeman plays God in the film. I agree. Brian Blessed should play god.

Single cinema opening for I Dont Want To Sleep Alone

Still from don\'t want to sleep alone As mentioned earlier, the Malaysian censorship board banned award-winning filmmaker Tsai Ming Liang’s Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone) in March, claiming that it portrayed the unsightly side of the capital city Kuala Lumpur and affected the government’s ongoing tourism campaign. A few days later they changed their mind, and approved the film for limited screening in art house cinemas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor.

However, the boards appeals committee also demanded that five cuts be made to the film, including a kissing scene, an injured character in his pants and a radio broadcast reporting open burning in Putrajaya.

Now, Twitch is reporting that Tsai has made the cuts and the film is due to open on May 17th. It will only be shown in one cinema, however, which is The Picturehouse at Cathay Cineleisure, in the vicinity of the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Limited unbanning of I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone

Still from don\'t want to sleep alone I mentioned on Tuesday that the Malaysian censorship board had banned Tsai Ming Liang’s award winning film Hei yan quan (I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone).

On Thursday, they changed their mind and has now approved the film for limited screening in art house cinemas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor.

Not all is rosy, however, as the boards appeals committee has asked for five cuts to be made. These include shots of the lead actors buttocks and a local actor washing his underwear. Other cuts include a kissing scene, an injured character in his pants and a radio broadcast reporting open burning in Putrajaya.

Tsai, who is currently promoting the film in Taiwan, is happy that the ban has been reversed, but is undecided as to whether or not to accept the cuts.

“I think I’ll be making another appeal. And I hope the committee will invite me back so that we can sit down face-to-face and discuss things,” he said.

More movies banned in Malaysia

Still from don\'t want to sleep alone The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) has expressed concern over a series of bans and restrictions implemented by the Malaysian authorities which point to increasing intolerance for free expression and differing viewpoints.

The National Censorship Board recently banned award-winning filmmaker Tsai Ming Liangs Hei yan quan (I Dont Want to Sleep Alone), claiming that it portrayed the unsightly side of the capital city Kuala Lumpur and affected the governments ongoing tourism campaign. This follows the recent banning of Amir Muhammad’s film, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist) for being too sympathetic toward communism.

Elsewhere, on 16th February, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission banned Sensasi, a Malay-language talk show aired by private broadcaster TV3 for failing to take appropriate steps to censor or control inappropriate content. This ban was triggered by a remark about Muhammads first wife by an actress.

In print, 56 publications have been banned by the Internal Security Ministry, including the Indonesian translation of Charles Darwins Origin of Species.

Another year, another film about communists gets banned in Malaysia

Still from Village People Radio Show Last May, the Malaysian Home Ministry banned Amir Muhammad’s film, Lelaki Komunis Terakhir (The Last Communist).

This year, Amir Muhammads film Apa khabar orang kampung (Village People Radio Show) has been banned (via) because it was too sympathetic toward communism and critical of the government, according to Malaysias state censorship board.

The documentary is described as a portrait of village life in southern Thailand, where retired Muslim members of the Communist Party of Malaya now live.

The censorship board listed seven reasons for the ban, saying the film was unsuitable for public viewing because it portrayed the communist struggle as a noble cause and criticized the Malaysian government for unfairly treating former communists.

Malaysia threatens to crack down on bloggers

Crest of Malaysia The International Herald Tribune (via) reports that Malaysian officials have threatened a crackdown on divisive postings on news blogs, in what international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are calling a move to expand controls on the traditional media to the Internet.

All Malaysian news blogs may have to be registered with the Ministry of Information, local media reported earlier in the week, citing Deputy Science and Technology Minister Kong Cho Ha as saying the laws were necessary to dissuade bloggers from promoting disorder in Malaysias multiethnic society.

However, RSF points out that any crackdown on news blogs would stifle criticism of the government and push Malaysian bloggers daring to criticize the government to stop publishing or self-censor to avoid possible legal action.

Local news media outlets are strictly controlled by the government, and criticism of government policies are rare. A number of mainstream media organizations are owned by parties within the ruling National Front coalition, or via their proxies.

Malaysian bloggers currently enjoy an outspokenness denied to journalists in the traditional media, the Reporters Without Borders statement said. It is vital for the countrys democratic life that the Internet is not pushed into self-censorship.

Book banning in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpurs Silverfish Books has encountered a new wave of book banning in Malaysia.

It was another routine stock replenishment order. Then came the shock: the distributor is unable to supply copies of Salman Rushdies Midnights Children because the book had been restricted in Malaysia by the KDN.

Our initial reaction was to laugh out loud. Who are these people? Midnights Children, published in 1980, won the Booker in 1981 and won the Booker of Bookers in 1993. Every self-respecting reader in the country has not only read the book, but owns a special sentimental copy. Now, after 26 years, some barely literate little Napoleon - to borrow Pak Lahs term - sitting behind a KDN desk in Johor Bahru has decided that the book is not suitable for Malaysians.

The company has compiled a list of restricted books which includes not only Salman Rushdie, but also Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Anthony Burgess and Alan Hollinghurst.


More music banned in Malaysia

Pussycats Dolls This is slightly old news, but the Malaysian organisers of a recent Pussycat Dolls concert have been fined for flouting decency laws.

Promoters Absolute Entertainment have been fined 10,000 Ringgits (£1,436) for allowing the female US act to perform sexually suggestive routines.

The penalty was imposed by the council which manages the Kuala Lumpur suburb where the event took place on 26 July.

The fine followed a complaint from Malaysias culture minister Rais Yatim, who is labouring under the strange belief that the six-strong troupes concert amounted to gross indecency.

Malaysia has a history of banning musicians. In 2003 US rock band Linkin Park were banned from wearing shorts while performing and in 2004 singer Mariah Carey was asked to cover up.

Madonna has been banned from Malaysian television and a scheduled concert by Norwegian metal band, Mayhem, was banned earlier this year.

- Next