UP Law professor defies ban on showing trailer of anti-Islam film
Despite the ban imposed by the University of the Philippines and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), UP College of Law professor and human rights lawyer Harry Roque pushed through with the showing of the controversial anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" in his Bill of Rights class Friday night.
The film, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and womanizer, has triggered protests in at least 20 countries and was allegedly the reason the US Embassy in Libya was attacked on September 12, resulting in the death of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy officials.
Roque cited his academic freedom as a UP professor and his constitutionally-protected freedom of expression.
"We need to be allowed to form our own opinions. Now that we have seen it, we can now confidently say that it is trash, nothing but trash," Roque said after the showing of the 14-minute trailer of the film.
"Obviously no one in this room endorses the message of the film," he said.
The film, which Roque said was related to his class discussion on freedom of religion and freedom of expression, was initially planned to be screened in the college theater to a bigger audience, but was moved to a classroom after the University Chancellor prohibited the screening citing security reasons.
MTRCB also questioned why Roque did not secure a permit from the Board for the film showing.
"I do not have a license from your office [MTRCB] to show the controversial trailer on 'Innocence of Muslims.' I have the Constitution," Roque said in his Twitter account.
Security was beefed up around the building due to security concerns, and classes were suspended.
The film was produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-American who used the pseudonym "Sam Bacile." A few of its 80-member cast have denied any knowledge of the film's anti-Muslim stance, claiming that the dialogue was dubbed over by the producer after production.
The White House has asked Youtube to take down the film, but the video-sharing website refused, saying it doesn't violate their content standards. A trial court in California also denied the request of one of the film's actresses to take down the film. The actress has since been in hiding.
When asked about the possible eruption of violence in the Philippines after the film showing, Roque said:
"I think it is unfair to Muslims that you think they are going to react in a violent manner. I think that's insuling their intelligence. I dont think any rational Muslim would erupt in violence after seeing this, knowing no one would believe it," he said.
Roque added that, "Walang dahilan para mag-worry ang maga kapatid nating Muslim, dahil hindi kapani-paniwala (ang pelikula). Nakakatawa ang film na yun. Hindi natin ini-eindorse, kaya kelangan ibasura. Ang importante magkaroon kami ng pagkakatoon na makita ito para magkaroon na kaming ng sariling opinyon." — Aileen Estoquia/ELR/HS, GMA News
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