Italian Broadcast to Screen Controversial Dutch Film on Women and Islam

May 11, 2005

Source: The Guardian,12576,1481145,00.html

On May 11, 2005 The Guardian reported, "Italy's state broadcaster, RAI, will tomorrow defy protests from Muslims and reported threats to one of its executives when it becomes the first leading foreign TV network to show the controversial Dutch film Submission.

The film's director, Theo van Gogh, was murdered last November. An alleged Muslim extremist has been charged with the killing.

The decision to screen substantial extracts from the film, which is fiercely critical of the treatment of women in Islam, followed a plea last week from Italian MPs from all leading parties. They said broadcasting the film would contribute 'to artistic freedom and freedom of expression.'

In a letter to President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the Islamic Council of Turin called for the broadcast to be cancelled. The letter, signed by two imams, said the content of the film was 'detrimental to Islamic traditions and customs.'

The imams warned that showing the film could create 'new and drastic tensions that could induce the most fanatical to commit high-profile actions endangering public security.' Copies of their letter were sent to, among others, the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano."