• Germany's news in English

Centre-left opposes ban on anti-Islam film

Published: 17 Sep 2012 12:23 GMT+02:00

Several German cabinet ministers condemned the Islamophobic film, with Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich saying that legal avenues would be explored to try and stop a screening planned by populist far-right party Pro Deutschland.

Pro-Deutschland said they were planning to screen the film in a Berlin cinema in November.

But politicians from the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party have spoken out against banning the film produced in the US, with excerpts spread on the internet.

"A simple foreign policy deference to other countries is not enough to limit basic rights," SPD domestic policy spokesman Dieter Wiefelspütz told the taz newspaper. He said bans should only be the last resort.

Green Party whip Volker Beck said that he saw no legal justification for a ban. "Based on what I've seen, the film is tasteless idiocy, but without criminal content."

Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German police union DPolG, warned against the consequences if Pro Deutschland were to carry out its plan.

"That could be very dangerous," Wendt told the Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper. "There are very aggressive Islamists in Germany too. We have to expect that a small spark is enough to cause explosions in several places."

But he added he saw no way that the police could prevent the film being shown. "We are a free country with freedom of speech," said Wendt. "As long as there are no criminal offences in the film, it can't really be stopped."

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she "could imagine good reasons" to prevent Pro Deutschland from showing the film, suggesting that the screening could be stopped if it endangered public safety.

The head of the German Catholic Church, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, also condemned the film, calling it an "unacceptable and pointless provocation that endangers peace and Christians around the world."

Meanwhile, Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah called for more protests against the film on Monday. "The whole world needs to see your anger on your faces, in your fists and your shouts," Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah told Muslims in a TV address, in which he called the film "the worst ever attack on Islam."

The amateurishly-executed film, entitled "Innocence of Muslims," slanders the Prophet Mohammed and has caused attacks on western embassies across the Muslim world. It was reportedly made by 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted US bank fraudster with links to Coptic Christianity.

The Local/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

13:18 September 17, 2012 by Onlythetruth
This is really a political issue disguised as a human rights question. Islam is a political ideology in addition to being a religion and all the fuss is being used as a tactic to clear the political way for the islamic agenda of the eventual worldwide establishment of Sharia law. Islamophobia is a term created by Islamists to counter the the very understandable concern westerners have about the friction between Moslems and the West.
13:52 September 17, 2012 by raandy
Most non Muslim people consider the reaction to the film way out of line. There is no justification for the violence. This film does not represent anyone except the maker. To riot, destroy property , kill and mame people because of it is counter to any legitimate religious ideology. These people are thugs, not true believers.

For a Nation to cower down to these people is a big step in the wrong direction. These rioters should be treated as the criminals they are. To see leaders of great Nations , speaking out against this stupid basement film in hopes to satisfy these thugs is disappointing and shameful. These leaders are playing into the hands of the Jihadist.

I would have preferred that the western nations firstly condem the violence and destruction and take a united stand against mob mentality.
13:57 September 17, 2012 by Eric1
Instead of standing up against evil people, the West just wants bans freedom of speech.
14:06 September 17, 2012 by lucksi
'The head of the German Catholic Church, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, also condemned the film, calling it an "unacceptable and pointless provocation that endangers peace and Christians around the world."'

Oh noes, Christians are endangered. And it's not like we have enough of those already.

But hey, it's better than if he had said that white people are being endangered by this.
14:10 September 17, 2012 by danhab
The west are allowing primitive people with no reason and tolerance and clueless about freedom of speech to run the world. Oh, god-forbid the muslim fanatics are offended! Why appease to them instead of telling them to catch up.

For evil to triumph all it takes is for good men to do nothing.
14:10 September 17, 2012 by elitebavarian
@Eric1: what happens to 'Freedom of Speech' when someone talks about Holocaust? double standards??

@raandy: agreed that this film represent only the maker, and there should not be any harm to other western people, 100% agreed. But why western people start thinking all muslims as extremists and terrorists just because of the actions of a few people?? again double standards??

when a person in Norway kills many people, he becomes a criminal, no religious affiliations at all. But if a criminal muslim is involved in some crime, then whole Islam becomes a terrorist religion, isn't it funny?
14:15 September 17, 2012 by Herr Rentz
These people need to get over themselves. They're just not worth it.
14:40 September 17, 2012 by raandy
@elitebavarian I didn't generalize this to all Muslims, I said the people rioting and killing were not true believers but thugs.
14:55 September 17, 2012 by michael4096
Many parents have to deal with one sibling deliberately baiting another until the baitee reacts physically. The normal way forward is to hold neither solely to blame and reprimand both. Blaming only one or the other is both unfair and generates more trouble.

" Islam is a political ideology..." I'm sure some muslims agree with you, just as some christians including the Bavarian state believe christianity should be used when creating laws. However, as muslims on these pages have said, this is not true for all. Indeed, there are 4 million muslims in Germany happy to put German law before sharia. Perhaps the word islamophobia has been created to describe those that perpetuate this myth for their own ends.
14:57 September 17, 2012 by elitebavarian
@raandy: you are right. But I was referring others.
15:10 September 17, 2012 by Al uk
The West has to stand up to these people and stop kowtowing everytime they are "offended" which seems to be on a daily basis.

I saw one banner in London (on tv) saying "Americans out of Muslim lands", fair point so how about Muslims out of Western lands!
17:23 September 17, 2012 by gorongoza
I myself have nothing to do with a religion - Islam or any other. I am however pissed off by this movie man that when hell has broken loose he himself goes into safe hiding instead of standing in the open to defend his views.


Sadly the victims are always those like me who has nothing to do with Islam.

For those who are afraid of the Islamisation of the west: get it from me; your governments may even be giving first preferrances to immigrants of this faith - the extreme ones for that matter. So you see they do not come in through the back door. Why not use your legal rights to stop them come in instead of shouting hatred time and again on the internet? The websites are not created to be used as platforms to show your degree of hate to other people who are not you.
17:41 September 17, 2012 by Al uk
@gorongoza and just why has the guy gone into hiding? Is it because certain members of the "peace loving " religion would kill him on sightperhaps?

As for Frau Merkel's "good reason" the film wont endanger public safety it's the radical Islamists that the EU has allowed into all of Europe that will.

Not so long ago Pussy riot desecrated a Church i don't recall our leaders(religious and political) condemning that, only the sentence that was handed down.
18:05 September 17, 2012 by realist1961
It is interesting that some within Islam feel the need to kill when blasphemed. I am sure it is not unique in the history of all religions, although it appears the Catholics have progressed some having not stormed the German embassies across the globe when the German magazine Titanic posted pictures of the Pope with a yellow stain on the front of his cassock.
20:11 September 17, 2012 by karldehm
When Christians are killed in Egypt or other Muslim countries do we go crazy like these ignorant brain washed people. Why are they getting up set when someone criticizes

their prophet Mohammed. As far as I know this guy was not a particular good guy.

So maybe they are only afraid of the truth.

Save us from the fanatics, be they Muslim or Christian or Communist or National Socialist

or whatever.
20:24 September 17, 2012 by PNWDev
@elitebavarian #6

The difference is the Nazi holocaust is not a continued event, so therefore, conversations about the same old storyline (WWII holocaust acts) have become quite stale and exhausted.

Western people do not start thinking all muslims are extremists or terrorists. Just because one does not pre-qualify the obvious (by saying not all muslims are terrorists) in their comment, does not in any way conclude that they are labeling every muslim as an extremist.

And the reason why Norway was labeled a criminal act is because Norwegians ­ or any segment of Norwegians, are not running around the world rioting and killing innocent people every time they learn of something they do not agree with.

Terrorism is a criminal act; it is a series of prolonged criminal acts. If in the last 20 years only one muslim took a gun and killed 70 people, it too would have been a criminal act. But when individual criminal acts become repeated across the globe over and over and over in the name of the same faith, it is terrorism.

And the big deal in calling it terrorism is what?


You are pissed? Well too bad some C-rated video trailer hurt your feelings. If people choose to fight because of a stupid little video trailer, it is their undisciplined choice to do so. There are many, many, many anti-Christian videos on the net and YouTube, but you do not see Christians dancing in the streets like uncaged fools because of it do you?
20:35 September 17, 2012 by joysonabraham
When god needs soldiers, When god needs defenders for his shrines/books/whatever..

What do one understand from it.

Isn't he someone who is able to punish the wrong doers.

Do you people need to do it for him?

When people think themselves as weapons with brain, tragedy will be the end result.
20:38 September 17, 2012 by 50ftqueenie18
It is very concerning to hear westerners on the political left constantly defending and excusing Muslim fanatics. Those burning and rioting over a silly internet film are NOT victims. They are intolerant religious nutters. And if they were scandinavian Odinists, or rightwing Christians from the U.S. south, those on the left would be the first to condemn the actions and attitudes of the religious fanatics.

So just what is the difference? The answer i suspect is a mixture of race; all this moral equivalency nonsense about how westerners are not suppose to view our civilization in a better light than non-western civilizations. And fear, of course, That much i do understand. I fear the followers of Islam because so many are irrational. Much are violently irrational than the average Christian or Hindu fundamentalist.

Germans had better understand that sooner or later they are going to have to confront this foreign, very alien and fantical culture before it's too late.

Just remember, the Nazis were big fans of Islam. They armed Bosniak Muslims against the Serbs in ww2.
23:13 September 17, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ michael4096

It isn't islamophobia when the concern is real. 22,000 islamic terror attacks world wide since 9/11 and counting. If there 4 million muslims in Germany happy to put German law before sharia there is no way of knowing it for as Christopher Hitchens put it in these matters muslims have "given themselves permission to lie".

There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted, "taqiyya" and "kitman". They are used to advance the cause Islam - in some cases by gaining the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.

In view of the above there is no way of knowing islamic opinion in europe with any degree of certainty. All we can say is that there has been no mass uprising so far. Should western civilization show a much greater vulnerability that could change.
01:49 September 18, 2012 by mike_1983
I have no idea why western countries allowed wholesale muslem immigration in the first place. Even my home country of Australia has had to deal with extrememly violent demonstrations from radical muslems.... 40 years ago Australia had 20,000 muslems, now around 500,000.... and with a huge threat of home grown terrorism!

They simply don't intergrate or contribute to society but sit on western welfare checks while having large families.... in Australia that is a fact!
09:06 September 18, 2012 by MaKo
Oh, come on, Germany! You ban all kinds of things... "Mein Kampf" reprints, that hateful Florida pastor, mowing the lawn between the hours of 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. ... surely you can find some avenue to prevent this film from being shown!

Showing this film has nothing to do with art or free speech; it is an incendiary act, intended to provoke, and *would* put the safety of the general public at risk. And at this point, it doesn't matter why or by what element the public would be endangered; it's a predictable outcome. Why risk peoples' lives on either side by allowing this provocation at the hands of a group that is also "jenseits" from innocent?
09:24 September 18, 2012 by catjones
1. Thousands of Muslims are being killed in Syria, but no one is storming the Syrian Embassies.

2. People who live in former dictatorships believe that all governments are behind everything (because for them that was true). These people naturally believe Western governments are behind the film.

3. Germans who wish to ban a film they've never seen, might want to move to one of the former dictatorships. There they'll find conditions suitable to their needs.
12:30 September 18, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ MaKo

Prevent the film from being shown? In my opinion that moslems in living in the West have to learn to put up with criticism and satire like the rest of us as part of the universal human right of free speech. Simply put moslems have to learn to get over themselves.
08:33 September 19, 2012 by MaKo
@ Onlythetruth - I agree completely that in our society, we must be tolerant of criticism and satire. Of course free speech is a critical aspect of western democracy. However, this film is neither criticism nor satire. Unlike "The Life of Brian" or "The Last Temptation of Christ", both being fine examples of satire and critical exploration, the sole purpose of this particular film is to insult an entire faith.

And the second point is that it is really pretty much a forseeable conclusion that if this film is shown, there will be violence. To my mind, that's reason enough to stop it. Some aspects of the production of this film were disingenous, and possibly criminal. I don't think the public at large should be put at risk for that. Imagine... your kid, your brother, your spouse in the wrong place at the wrong time, just because some psycho wanted to provoke a group and succeeded, and the western world felt obligated to accomodate in the name of free speech.

And for the record, I don't know that Moslems need to get over themselves any more than Germans, Christians, Britons, Americans ... etc... do.
09:06 September 19, 2012 by pjnt

If we kowtow to the apparent threat of violence for showing an amateur trailer then the threat of violence will repeatedly rear it's ugly head at each and every turn.
12:01 September 19, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ Mako

I don't know about you but I don't want the government deciding what is "legitimate" criticism and satire and what isn't. Thats a very quick introduction to censorship of anything the government deems beyond criticism. How are we going to censor a film that crudely satirizes Scientology because scientologists might be upset? How about a film that makes fun of the mafia?

The moslems do indeed need to get over themselves as they are the only religion that reserves the right not to be critiqued. Why should they be exempt? Because they might become violent? Why should we in the West put up with this kind of blackmail?
19:42 September 19, 2012 by Dave N
If Charlie Chaplin had been bothered about upsetting Nazis then "The Great Dictator" would never have been made.I'm not saying that this poorly put together clip is anywhere near as good - but fear should never prevent anyone expressing an honest opinion. And almost everything in this comedy is based on Mohammad's actions as described in the Hadith, by the way. Muslims just don't like to be reminded of what sort of man their "prophet" really was. If Mohammad were alive today he would be in the Hague with Ratko Mladic answering charges of war crimes.
21:14 September 19, 2012 by MaKo
It is important to bear in mind that not all speech is protected (i.e. Holocaust denial). And if we are to conjure the spirit of the Third Reich as a warning about government control, I think we just as well could use this same example to suggest that it might be a positive thing for the government of this country in particular to step forward and defend the dignity of a minority part of its population.

From what I have read about the film, it seems more like hate speech. And if it is blackmail, then who is the blackmailer, if you will? I think you could just as easily argue that it is the producer of this shoddy bit of work, banking that our rights and values will be the means that force us to show it.

I think it would be unfortunate to indulge right wing extremists and endanger the public at large by showing the film.
22:59 September 19, 2012 by nstaubach
ha ha ha....one man's misery is others joy!

@pjnt @onlytruth @Dave _N: lets put it other way round....your neighbour is screwing your Mom and you dont like it you protest and made it clear its unacceptable 2 u...but the the keeps on screwing...........is that free speech? buahahaha
03:45 September 20, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ MaKo

What makes the muslims so special? In your opinion should the government also step in to defend the dignity of Scientologists or Hezbolla or the mafia? How about the dignity of left handed people or dance club djs?

What makes the muslims so special is that they are willing to commit violence over the smallest slight to their religion. In my opinion over and above the issue of free speech they need to learn that this behavior is unacceptable. Perhaps we in the West should take offense to the smallest slight to our cherished tradition of free speech and teach them that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
08:29 September 20, 2012 by MaKo
@ Onlythetruth

Why aren't they special? Why shouldn't they be defended in the face of hate speech as other groups are? Put simply, Muslims are a minority group here in Germany. A government needs to be in the business of protecting minority groups. Just as in the U.S. legal efforts are being made to prevent religious fanatics from marring soldiers' funerals, the German government should prevent this extremist element from a pointless and artless (and potentially criminally produced) slighting of an entire group. It is clearly an incendiary stunt, intended to provoke, and these right-wing groups are exploiting our values every bit as much as the threat of Salafist violence in this issue.

A democracy is not a playground where the whim of every citizen must be indulged. A democratic government must also act to protect its minority citizens from a small but vociferous mob with torches and pitchforks (or three people with guns and explosives, for that matter).

And for the record, no, Scientology isn't a religion here.
10:54 September 20, 2012 by Onlythetruth
@ Mako

Who gets to decide what is pointless and artless slighting and what is protected free speech? And what is clearly only an incendiary stunt and what is legitimate satire and comment? Who gets to decide who can be slighted and who not? Is it only religious minorities who should be protected? I know a woman who is actually ready to kill if she hears another joke about blonds.

Censorship is a giant step on the path to enslavement. But for those in favor of limiting the freedom of speech the present fight involving muslims is the wrong one. Concern about the deleterious effects of an increasingly aggressive islamic minority isn't islamophobia, its islamorealism.
20:27 September 20, 2012 by MaKo
@ Onlythetruth,

I have this feeling like we aren't going to change each other's minds :)
02:08 September 21, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Lets compromise - you be extremely careful about absolutely everything you say to be sure that it is politically correct and offends no one and I'll feel free to speak my mind. I wonder which of us will feel better about our intellectual life.
09:53 September 21, 2012 by MaKo
Huch! There I go again, trying to be nice. I believe it is appropriate to think before speaking, and will continue to do so, and predict that I will continue to feel positive about my intellectual life. Those who seek truth and truth only would be well advised to inspect both sides of any coin. Cheers! Seriously. Peace, man.
11:24 September 21, 2012 by Onlythetruth
Fine! You be "diplomatic" whenever you are faced with a controversial issue and I'll be unafraid of the truth and we'll apply that across the board. So you start first...I'll help. "The nazis were (are) merely a bunch of misguided patriots." No nazis offended there!
12:19 September 21, 2012 by MaKo
Those are colorful responses from one who professes to not fear the truth. Knowing the "truth" doesn't mean you don't ever have to apply thought to anything again, ever.
14:03 September 21, 2012 by Onlythetruth
So the rule would be "Know the truth but just shut up about it if it might offend someone somewhere."?
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