Sunday, August 08, 2004

ABC : Watchdog blasts Kuwait for banning 'Fahrenheit 9/11' movie

The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has denounced the decision to ban Michael Moore's Bush-bashing Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary in Kuwait, one of Washington's main Gulf allies.

"RSF has condemned the Kuwaiti Information Ministry's August 1, 2004, decision to ban screenings" of the documentary and urged the authorities to lift the ban, the Paris-based group said in a statement.

"The Kuwaiti authorities are free to disagree with Michael Moore's political preferences but it is regrettable that they are using the weapon of censorship to deprive the Kuwaiti public of the information and views contained in his film," the organisation said.

"This ban is all the more damaging to Kuwait's image as, so far, it is the only country in the region to take such a decision," it said.

The watchdog quoted the Kuwaiti Information Ministry's cinema and production supervisor, Abdel-Aziz Bou Dastour, as saying that the documentary had insulted the Saudi royal family.

"We have a law that prohibits insulting friendly nations and ties between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are special," he said.

He also said Moore's film "criticised America's policy on invading Iraq and this (is) tantamount to criticising Kuwait for (what it did) to liberate Iraq (and) would have angered Kuwaitis."

RSF said the documentary has already been screening for weeks in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

On August 3, it opened simultaneously in Qatar, Bahrain and Oman and is due to start showing soon in Egypt.

Pirated copies of the film have also been circulating illegally in several of the region's countries, the group said.

The film, a blistering indictment of US President George W Bush, became the first documentary in history to rake in more than $US100 million in North American ticket sales.

--AFP

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