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Cinemas Full as Indonesia Continues Debating ‘2012’

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Cinemas Full as Indonesia Continues Debating ‘2012’
Makers of the Hollywood disaster movie “2012” found themselves an unlikely ally in the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Wednesday, with a senior official saying the film had the potential to increase religious values.

The hit film has been criticized by some religious groups for a range of reasons, with the latest critics being a group of elementary school students from Bandung, who on Wednesday set fire to pirated DVD copies of the film — something the filmmakers would no doubt be thankful for.

Rifki, one of the students, said the end of the world could not be determined by man because it was God’s secret. “Nobody knows about the end of days, not even prophets or angels,” Rifki told

Nasaruddin Umar, the ministry’s director general for mass guidance on Islam, said the film was only a work of imagination, “and imagination can be said to be in the human domain.”

He said that it could be beneficial for people to focus on the fact the world would one day come to an end and so “become more

However, he added that a potential negative of the film was that it could lead people to change their religion.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) branch in Malang, East Java, was the first to condemn the film, issuing a fatwa because it considered the movie “improper and misleading.”

The MUI’s Surakarta branch then called for a ban on the film, currently playing to full houses around the country, because in one scene people are seen taking refuge in the Vatican as the apocalypse unfolds. In the movie, however, the Vatican is destroyed.

On Wednesday, MUI chairman Amidhan said the Indonesian Film Censorship Board should edit parts of “2012” or it would submit a recommendation to the government to withdraw the movie from cinemas.

Amidhan objected to one scene in the movie that showed a collapsed mosque, saying there were no images of destroyed churches.
“[The film] shouldn’t be prejudiced against certain religions, for instance, images showing the destruction of mosque-like structures, or the Kaaba,” Amidhan said. “There were mosques [destroyed] but no churches,” Amidhan said.

“Yes, I have seen the movie,” he added.

Nasaruddin acknowledged the film might raise sensitive issues. “However, the doomsday [subject] of this film is not new. We have seen ‘Armageddon’ and other [similar] movies. We didn’t react like this before.”

Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, said there was no need to make a fuss over the movie.

“Let’s just leave it to what [our] religion says, that there is no way anyone can predict when doomsday will happen,” Hasyim said.

“I think we first need to see what the film is all about and if it is just depicting doomsday in 2012 or is it determining that doomsday will happen in 2012,” Hasyim said. He added that he had no objections if the film was just a depiction of what a doomsday scenario might look like.

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