TORONTO - Plans to screen a controversial film about the Prophet Mohammed in Toronto may come undone by the simple lack of a theatre willing to host the film that has sparked deadly protests in the Middle East.
The hour-long Innocence of Muslims is being aired by the Canadian Hindu Advocacy in Toronto later this month at an undisclosed location, organizers said.
Group spokesman Ron Banerjee said about 200 people are expected for the screening. He said they will have to undergo heavy security, including metal detectors.
The film has been linked to protests in Egypt, Yemen and Libya, where the U.S. embassy in Benghazi was stormed and the ambassador and three other Americans killed. However, later reports suggest that attack was planned before the protests.
“A lot of people want to see this film,” Banerjee said on Friday. “It will be a private showing and filmgoers will be frisked and have to go through a metal detector.”
Banerjee said organizers of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) have refused to show the film, which depicts Mohammed as a womanizer and a madman.
Banerjee said venues in Toronto are reluctant to allow the film to be shown on their premises fearing a backlash by radical Muslims.
“We are looking at showing the film at a Hindu temple,” Banerjee said. “Hindus are furious that people are being killed over this film.”
Banerjee said copies of the film have been withdrawn from circulation but are “available privately.”
Parts of the film are still available on the Internet.
He said viewers will have to book a seat to see the film and undergo searches.
Snippets from other movies that are offensive to Christians and Hindus will also be shown, Banerjee said.
“In Canada, we have tolerance and diversity and they (Muslims) are simply going to have to tolerate diverse viewpoints and opinions without rioting,” he said, adding that he is not concerned about a backlash.
The film is marred in controversy at home, too. Its actors claim they were misled about what kind of movie they were making, and that the anti-Muslim dialogue was dubbed in later. The filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is a convicted fraudster and meth manufacturer in California, who used the pseudonym Sam Bacile and told reporters he was Israeli.