Srinagar: Singapore has banned a film festival from screening the documentary “Radiance of Resistance” later this week, that features the teenage Palestinian female activist Ahed Tamimi.
The move came after Tamimi’s arrest last month, that has made her a symbol of resistance to the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank.
Justifying the ban, Singaporean authorities said the film was “skewed” and potentially divisive for the city-state’s multi-ethnic population.
The documentary, which looks at the Palestine-Israeli conflict through the eyes of 16-year-old Tamimi and another young female activist, lacks “counterbalance”, the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) said on its website.
“The skewed narrative of the film is inflammatory and has the potential to cause disharmony amongst the different races and religions in Singapore,” the IMDA said.
The documentary was set to be shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday.
It was screened at a number of festivals worldwide in 2017 and won Best Documentary at the Respect Human Rights Film Festival in Belfast, but has become even more topical following Tamimi’s arrest last month.
Tamimi was charged on Monday with counts of aggravated assault, and will be tried in an Israeli military court. An adult found guilty of assaulting a soldier could be jailed for up to 10 years, but Tamimi is a minor, so such an outcome is unlikely.
Festival organiser calls the ban ‘understandable’
While Singapore’s authorities are known to keep a tight rein on public speech and the media, especially when it comes to matters related to race and religion, outright bans are more rare.
Adela Foo, the organiser of the Singapore festival, called the ban “understandable”, without elaborating.
“At the end of the day, the IMDA’s position is one to be respected,” the 23-year-old student told Reuters.
With a sizable Muslim minority, and surrounded by Muslim-majority neighbours where sympathy for the Palestinian cause runs high, Singapore maintains friendly diplomatic and military ties with Israel.
But it has lined up with many other countries opposed to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Around 15 percent of Singapore’s 3.3 million resident population aged 15 years and over, identify as Muslim, recent government surveys show.
Censorship is common in Singapore, and even mainstream films such as “Titanic,” “The Hours” and “American Beauty” were cut for cinema release in the past.
Singapore has also been placed in the bottom quarter on the World Press Freedom Index for 2017, below countries such as Afghanistan, Burma and Malaysia, according to rankings compiled by Reportes Without Borders.