09/29/2010, 00.00
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Muslim fundamentalists against gay and lesbian film festival in Jakarta

by Mathias Hariyadi
Islamic Defender Front threatens to set fire to one of the venues of the festival. Opening day is cancelled.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A gay and lesbian film festival might be cancelled because of threats made by radical Islamic groups. The Q! Film Festival was scheduled to end on 30 September, but its director, John Badalu, called off the festival’s opening day (25 September). At least 100 members of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) protested against the event, which is at its ninth edition, in front of Germany’s Goethe-Institut, one of the venues.

According to a FPI field coordinator, Habib Salim Alatas, “These places should be protected from any obscenity. I will let these places be burned down (by our members) because they promote obscenity”.

In addition to Goethe Haus, the programme includes screening at the Centre culturel français  (CCF), the Dutch Cultural Center ‘Erasmus Huis’, the Japan Foundation, and Jakarta-based Kineforum, a film-fans club in Central Jakarta.

The FPI is an Islamic fundamentalist group that was founded in 2001 by Noegroho Djajoesman, a former Jakarta chief of police, and is chaired today by Habib Rizieq Shihab.

Since it was created, the group has led the fight against religious minorities. On its website, it claims that the film festival is a tool to convert Indonesian youth to homosexuality.

The Q! Film Festival organising committee urged film aficionados and critics to be careful of possible attacks by fundamentalists.

Police is also on alert to ensure that protests by radical Muslims remain “polite”.

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