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German Muslims split over film's screening

Opinion among Muslims groups in Germany is divided over whether public screenings of a US-made anti-Islam film should be prohibited. "The Innocence of Muslims" is at the center of violent protests around the world.

Two leading Muslim groups joined a growing number of voices on Monday to demand that the film is banned in Germany. Their call comes after the right-wing extremist group Pro Deutschland announced that it hoped to show the film in a public venue.

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Video ban questioned

"I think that we should use all possible legal means [to enforce a ban]," chairman of the German Central Council of Muslims Aiman Mazyek told Germany's ARD television.

The video, which depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a child abuser, is designed to "sow discord and hatred," and has "nothing to do with freedom of expression." He warned against protests in Germany, however, urging Muslims to "keep calm."

"It's not what Islam requires," he said, adding that he did not want right-wing extremists to "exploit" the video to fuel their cause.

His call for a ban was echoed by Ali Kizilkaya, a spokesperson for the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany, who told the German newspaper Taz that the film is "deeply insulting."

Divided opinion

But Lamya Kaddor, the chairwoman of the Liberal Islamic Federation, warned against a ban, saying it could stoke anti-Islamic sentiment in Germany.

"The more one pushes for a ban and forces this kind of material to become a taboo, the more damage it will cause," she said.

Several leading German politicians including Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle have already backed the prospect of a ban. Chancellor Angela Merkel has also voiced support for restrictions on public screenings, although she stipulated that she would not back a ban of the film as a whole. 

Many fear a public screening may prompt violent protests similar to those seen in at least 20 countries around the world, including Libya, Sudan and Lebanon.

ccp/jm (AFP, dpa)

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