New Delhi: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has written to Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad, asking for a ban on digital release of the 2015 Iranian movie, Muhammad: The Messenger of God, in India on 21 July.
Deshmukh’s letter, dated 15 July (Wednesday), was sent following a complaint by Mumbai-based organisation Raza Academy that the film may hurt sentiments of a particular community.
Speaking to ThePrint Thursday, Deshmukh said the main reason behind the complaint was the fact that no actor can play the role of Prophet Muhammad.
“Raza Academy, some senior Muslim politicians in Mumbai and a few maulanas asked to stop the release of this film as they feared it could lead to religious tensions. But their main objection was that no actor can perform the role of the Prophet,” he said.
Saeed Noori, president of Raza Academy, has been quoted as saying, “It is an Iranian film and is against the teachings of our religion. Projection of Prophet is not allowed in Muslim religion. It could lead to the religious tension.”
ThePrint had called and emailed Raza Academy but there has been no response till the time the report was sent for publication.
The film is scheduled to release on online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp, among others.
‘Completely blasphemous’ movie
On 1 July, Raza Academy, a Sunni Barelvi organisation, had written to Deshmukh saying the film was “completely blasphemous”.
“Since the news of its release has been published there has been an uproar in the community and we have been receiving hundred of calls to get the film banned as it is completely blasphemous,” its letter read.
— Raza Academy (@razaacademyho) July 12, 2020
Following this complaint, Deshmukh had written to the central government and asked for a ban on the movie.
Deshmukh’s letter says, “The movie, if released on scheduled date, will be considered an attempt to blasphemy by a particular community and can potentially disturb religious sentiments. The film is likely to create religious tension leading to law and order problems in the country.”
In a separate letter, the Maharashtra cyber department has also asked the senior director of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to stop the film’s release.