Democratization activists in Kyrgyzstan are worrying about a roll-back of basic freedoms after a Bishkek court prohibited a film festival from screening a Dutch documentary about homosexual Muslim men.
“I Am Gay and Muslim,” was scheduled to screen on September 28 at the sixth annual Bir Duino (“One World”) human rights documentary film festival in Bishkek. Only hours before the scheduled showing, a court in the capital banned the film from being distributed in Kyrgyzstan. Organizers, attendees, and activists contended that the decision was fueled by officials’ knee-jerk intolerance. Religious experts had assailed the documentary’s content as “blasphemous” and likely to “incite[s] religious intolerance.”
Officials have compared the 59-minute film, which is set in Morocco, to the now-infamous “Innocence of Muslims,” a low-budget production that mocked and insulted Islam and ended up sparking riots across the Muslim world last month. “I Am Gay and Muslim” director Chris Belloni said anyone who has seen his film would understand it is not "anti-Islam" or "extremist.”
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet's Central Asia editor.