|Russia backs ban of US anti-Islam film|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2012 00:00|
The initially obscure “Innocence of Muslims,” produced by a US religious group, has been cited as one of the main instigators of riots that have killed 17 people from North Africa to the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Those killed include the US envoy and three consulate staff workers in Libya.
Russian prosecutors have also asked a government watchdog to prevent media from reporting on the content of the film, spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said, adding that the film “offended the religious feelings of believers and fomented ethnic hatred.”
Prosecutors have contacted major Internet providers with a warning about showing the film, she said.
Russia recently tightened a law on protecting minors from the Internet, allowing the government to draw up a blacklist of banned sites showing child pornography, promoting drug use and offering tips on suicide.
Under its extremism laws, any court can pronounce a material extremist, and the list includes issues of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ “The Watchtower” magazine as well as videos posted on social network sites.
Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency in its mainly Muslim North Caucasus, where bombings and shootings targeted at the pro-Kremlin authorities are virtually a daily occurrence.
Meanwhile, former British prime minister Tony Blair yesterday warned that violent demonstrations over an American anti-Islam film show that some in the Arab world are still a generation from modernisation.
The former premier, now a Middle East envoy, dismissed the film as “laughable” but called the response of extremist”very wrong”.
“The film, it may be wrong and offensive, but it’s also laughable as a piece of film-making,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
“The problem with this is that you have a small number of real extremists, the people who engage in violence, but the narrative goes far deeper, which is why this is a big problem” he argued.
“There is essentially a struggle between the forces of modernisation, who want an open society, a properly functioning economy . . . and then these very powerful forces of reaction, based on a perverted view of reaction, that want to pull the whole thing backwards.”
Protests yesterday turned violent for the first time in Afghanistan and Indonesia as hundreds of angry men clashed with police, hurling stones and shouting “Death to America”.
Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, called the violence unjustified and said the West needed to educate newly-democratic countries in the Middle East about the importance of religious tolerance, fair treatment of minorities and an open economy.
“We need both the leadership within those countries and within Islam to stand up and say, ‘Look, there is a proper modern way of reconciling religious faith, democracy in society’, and we need ourselves from the outside to engage with this process of change in a way that’s constructive,” he added. — AFP.