KARACHI: After slapping a ban on the feature film Maalik a day ago, the federal government has now banned a documentary film Among the Believers directed by Mohammad Ali Naqvi.

Ironically, the documentary has been screened in 20 countries and has already bagged 12 awards.

The documentary focuses on the Lal Masjid situation and apart from following Maulana Abdul Aziz and his network for five years it also contains those never-shared-before stories of people who stood up against extremist ideology.

The reason the Central Board of Film Censors has given in its notification for the ban is that Among the Believers “projects the negative image of Pakistan in the context of ongoing fight against extremism terrorism”.

Talking to Dawn, Mr Naqvi said, “The documentary premiered last year at the Tribeca Film Festival. It took us six years to make it. It focuses on two children studying at the Red Mosque who in a way signify the microcosmic representation of the ideological divide that we have.

"The film was to be premiered in Pakistan at a festival in Islamabad on April 29. The festival organisers needed to seek clearance from the authorities which they did not get. When one of our representatives asked them, they said it’s banned in the whole country.

“It is deeply distressing for me, because the film has been screened in 20 countries, and I wanted to screen it in my home country,” said Mr Naqvi.

Maulana Abdul Aziz reads from a book during the filming of the documentary.—Image courtesy Manjusha Films and Changeworx1
Maulana Abdul Aziz reads from a book during the filming of the documentary.—Image courtesy Manjusha Films and Changeworx1

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2016

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