Manitoba

Film's screening sparks religious controversy

The screening of a controversial film about Islamic extremists will go ahead in Winnipeg Monday night, despite concerns raised by local Muslims.

The screening of a controversial film about Islamic extremists will go ahead in Winnipeg Monday night, despite concerns raised by local Muslims.

Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West premieres in Canada at the IMAX theatre in Winnipeg's Portage Place mall. Local Jewish groups are sponsoring the film, which is sold out Monday and Tuesday night.

Members of Winnipeg's Muslim community have filed a formal complaint about the film with the city police hate crimes unit.

"I want the police to identify this as hate propaganda," said Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association Inc. Canada. "I want them to be aware who the sponsors are and what they are doing."

Police say they have reviewed the matter and don't believe the film constitutes hate speech.

The film has been reviewed by the Manitoba Film Classification Board, a provincial body responsible for rating films. The board gave it a rating of 14A — requiring adult accompaniment for children under age 14 — with warnings for violence and disturbing content.

'It does not promote hatred … it exposes hatred': sponsor

Jeremy Feuer, with the Winnipeg Zionist Initiative, one of the film's sponsors, says they plan to go ahead with the premiere despite the complaints, although they have hired police.

"The only thing that's been changed is there's just going to be a police presence, which wasn't initially planned but that was brought on by the suggestion that there's the possibility of a protest," Feuer told CBC News.

Feuer said he was surprised at the opposition to the film.

"The film's been reviewed and the opinion we've received is that it does not promote hatred. In fact, I believe it does quite the opposite. It exposes hatred," he said. We've been quite clear in all of our promotional materials and it will be made clear tonight that again, the film is not, and we are not, anti-Islam."

Siddiqui said as far as she was aware, no one in the Muslim community planned to protest at IMAX.

However, Siddiqui is concerned the film will bring about a backlash of anti-Islamic acts. She is calling on police to provide security at local mosques and Muslim schools after the film's screening.

"We will be asking the community if there is any kind of action, any kind of harassment, any kind of attacks for our children, anybody, to report to us and then to the police," she said.

Police would not say if they would provide additional patrols of Muslim schools or mosques.

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