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Mayor bans Oscar-nominated Muslim film in Paris
Mayor bans Oscar-nominated Muslim film in Paris
file photo

Villiers-sur-Marne mayor Jacques-Alain Bénisti first called the movie, which he had not seen, “an apology for terrorism” and banned it. He later revised his position under pressure

World Bulletin/News Desk

While Charlie Hebdo returned to Parisian newsstands with new image of Prophet Mohammad; Timbuktu, a much-praised, Oscar-nominated movie by the internationally known Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako was unceremoniously yanked out of a theater in the Paris suburb, Villiers-sur-Marne, according to the tabletmag.com report.

The district has a large North African population. The mayor Jacques-Alain Bénisti (a member of the Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement) first called the movie, which he had not seen, “an apology for terrorism” and then had it removed Friday from the Cinema City Casino because he feared that young people might take the fighters for a model.

However, according to the report, Sissako’s point in the movie is that the first victims of war are Muslims. Far from idealized, the militants are shown as brutal enemies of Malian tradition and culture. This exquisitely photographed movie bluntly details a reign of terror in an idyllic village in northern Mali

Timbuktu was premiered last May at Cannes and released in Paris last month. According to its distributor Jean Labadie noted that the movie had already been shown in more than 1,500 French cities “without causing the slightest incident.”

Under pressure from social media and the Socialist opposition, Bénisti revised his position, telling Le Monde that Timbuktu would be rescheduled in two weeks and shown in the context of a debate featuring Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders “et pourquoi pas, if they wish, members of the film crew.” The day before Timbuktu was banned in Villiers-sur-Marne, the French government declared that Lassana Bathily, the 24-year-old Malian stock clerk at the Hyper Cacher, who successfully hid a dozen or more customers in the market’s basement freezer, would be given French citizenship.



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