Pakistani activists in the UK have called for a ban on the screening of documentary Insha'Allah Democracy at the ongoing Human Rights Watch's Film Festival in London. However, the film is running as scheduled today and tomorrow.
The documentary, which heavily features former Pakistani President Pervez Musharaf, takes the viewer on the director Mohammed Ali Naqvi's personal journey of voting in the past Pakistani election as he discovers if "democracy is achievable in a country undergoing political and religious upheaval."
Activists who petitioned Human Rights Watch to cancel the film's screening claim that the film "legitimises and glorifies military dictatorial rules and undermines civilian/parliament supremacy".
In a press release, director Mohammed Ali Naqvi responded to the claims, saying, "Had they seen the film, the petitioners would know that Insha’Allah Democracy is critical of military rule and actually advocates Pakistan’s journey towards democracy.”
He added, "I have come to expect Pakistan's Film Censor Board to ban my films. They banned my previous film Among The Believers. However, this time it was activists who tried to have my latest film Insha'Allah Democracy censored. They were trying to silence me without even having watched the film."
In conversation with Images, Naqvi added, ""I think sarcasm is also lost here. And the film is a political satire."
HRW itself has issued a statement, assuring festival attendees that the film, in fact, will "remind people about Musharraf’s abuses and jumpstart a conversation about addressing them."
The statement stresses that "Musharraf’s answers to Naqvi’s questions provide a rare insight into the dictator’s mind. But it should not be confused with glorifying Musharraf."
The Inshallah Democracy screening is taking place at HRW film festival's venues today and tomorrow. Naqvi says he is planning to bring the film to Pakistan in the summer.