Singapore bans hit Kashmir film over portrayal of Muslims
Singapore bans a movie to prevent possible religious and ethnic conflicts in the country.
Singapore has banned a contentious Indian film because of its "provocative and one-sided representation" of Muslims in Kashmir, which officials believe may incite religious and ethnic conflicts in the city-state.
"The Kashmir Files," released in March and one of India's highest-grossing films this year, recounts alleged details of how Hindus fled Muslim extremists in India-administered Kashmir in 1989 and 1990.
The film has been promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and has been used by Hindu hardliners to incite hatred against India's Muslim minority.
Critics believe it addresses issues relevant to Modi's Hindu nationalist government's political goal, which has been accused of marginalizing and vilifying Muslims.
The film cannot be screened because Singapore's media regulator declined to classify it.
The decision was due to the movie's "provocative and one-sided portrayal of Muslims and the depictions of Hindus being persecuted," officials said in a statement late Wednesday.
"These representations have the potential to cause enmity between different communities, and disrupt social cohesion and religious harmony in our multi-racial and multi-religious society."
The city-5.5 state's million people are predominantly ethnic Chinese, but there are also sizable minorities of ethnic Malay Muslims and ethnic Indian Hindus.
The film's director, Vivek Agnihotri, lashed out at the decision, tweeting that Singapore was the "most regressive censor in the world."
The tightly controlled country is wary of anything that could spark ethnic or religious strife. It occasionally bans films and publications for fear of triggering divisions, leading some to ridicule it as a nanny state.
The plot centers around a university student who discovers his parents' deaths in the 1990s in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a disputed area divided between India and Pakistan since 1947.
Tens of thousands of people, predominantly Muslims, have been slaughtered in the region over three decades of insurgency backed by Pakistan, according to New Delhi, and a heavy-handed response by the Indian military.
After the violence began in the late 1980s, over 200,000 Kashmiri Hindus, known as Pandits, fled. According to government data, up to 219 people may have been killed.