Film about cleric held in Pakistan over ‘risk to Muslims’

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2020-01-23 14:02:01 BdST


Pakistan has suspended the release of an award-winning film after an Islamist political party objected to its portrayal of a struggling cleric, reports the BBC.

The party said the film “might lead people to deviate from Islam and the prophet,” with officials warning screening it could lead to unrest.

The film, Zindagi Tamasha (Circus of Life), is about a man shunned after a video of him dancing at a wedding goes viral on social media.

Sarmad Khoosat, the director of the film, said he never intended to offend anyone, the report said.

Before the suspension, the renowned Pakistani filmmaker claimed that he, his family and team had been subjected to bullying and threats over the film.

"Don't spew hate, fear and anger in the name of religion," Khoosat said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the political party Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was quoted in local media as saying the film's content was "blasphemous".

The blasphemy accusation is a highly sensitive one in Pakistan which has seen those accused targeted by hardline groups. A number of the country's highly controversial cases have grabbed global headlines.

Zindagi Tamasha had its world premiere at the prestigious Busan International Film Festival last year, where it was awarded the top fiction prize.

It was to have hit Pakistan's screens on January 24, and ahead of that date a trailer for the film was released showing a bearded man who is a singer of naat (religious poems).

But despite being cleared by the country's main censor board as well as provincial boards, the film is now on hold.

Last week Khoosat published an open letter to the prime minister, saying he was being inundated with complaints and threatening calls and was considering not releasing the film.