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Indonesian politicians want to ban US film on Abraham

‘His Only Son’ obscures Islamic history, they allege but Christians say they have 'the right' to watch the film
A scene from the US film His Only Son

A scene from the US film His Only Son. (Photo: pluggedin.com) 

Published: September 13, 2023 12:37 PM GMT
Updated: September 14, 2023 03:40 AM GMT

Two Indonesian parliamentarians have called for a ban on a US film that speaks about the story of Abraham, accusing it of attempting to obscure Islamic history.

The movie, “His Only Son,” which hit screens in the US on March 31, was released in Indonesia on Aug. 30.

The film is inspired by the Biblical story of Abraham, who is considered the father of faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Two Muslim politicians called for a ban on the movie, saying it was “misleading” Muslims. 

Tubagus Ace Hasan Syadzily, a lawmaker and a member of the commission overseeing religious affairs, said on Sept. 12 that the movie's narrative is "not like the current understanding of the history of Ibrahim as believed by Muslims."

The film could mislead Muslims because "Islam believes that the Prophet Ibrahim had two sons, namely the Prophet Ismail and the Prophet Isaac. But Ismail, the son of Ibrahim and Siti Hajar, is not recognized in this film," he said in a statement.

If the film was screened for limited "groups such as certain religious beliefs, we still understand. But if this film is widely circulated, it will give rise to a misleading" understanding of Islamic history,  Syadzily said.

The politician said Ismail is an important figure in Islam as the person who revealed the Prophet Muhammad as the bearer of Islamic teachings.

"If the understanding as depicted in this film is widely circulated, then it is actually the same as eliminating the connection between Islamic teachings and the history of the Prophet Ibrahim," he said.

He asked the Ministry of Communication and Information to impose a ban on the movie in cinemas and all other platforms.

Syaifullah Tamliha, another parliamentarian from the same commission, said the ban was necessary “to prevent riots involving ethnic, religious and racial elements.”

He said the film was an "attempt to obscure the history of Islam as stated in the Quran." 

He equated the film to "the practice of burning the Quran in Western European countries." 

Catholic groups criticized the ban call.

The demand shows "a desire to dominate public space based on majoritarianism," said Fransiska Silolongan of Catholic Youth, a lay Catholic organization. 

She said Christians are also "part of this nation" and have "the right to enjoy movies that are in line with their faith in public spaces," she said.

Silolongan said the movie be screened in cinemas and people should be free to watch or not watch it.

She said banning the film would harm the sense of "equality and fairness" among citizens, which is a requirement for a democratic country.

Anthoni Renaldo Talunbun from the Catholic Students Association of the Republic of Indonesia said it was unbecoming of the lawmakers to make such a call for a ban because "they are supposed to reflect Indonesian society, including its diversity."

Catholicism and Protestantism are legally recognized religions in Indonesia, he noted stressing that Christians also have "the right to access films related to their faith."

Cinepolis, which screens the movie in Indonesia, in an email response to UCA News on Sept. 13 said there was no legal ban against screening the movie.

Movies are shown only after getting a clearance certificate from the Film Censorship Institute and as long as that certificate is not revoked, "there is no violation" in screening the movie, it added.

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