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Australia to tighten laws against pro-terrorism films

The Australian Government looks set to tighten laws on censorship with the view to banning films that present a pro-terrorism point of view.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock is pushing for the changes to the Commonwealth's Classification Act to try and prevent these films from being seen, or at least to ensure they receive a higher rating.

According to the story from Australian Associated Press through batemansbay.yourguide.com.au, saw a recent release of a pro-terrorism film given a PG rating.

The film, which calls for the murder of infidels and describes Jews as "pigs", received a PG rating from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, making it suitable to be bought and watched by children.

The film is contained in a package of DVDs prepared by Australian-born Islamic cleric Sheik Feiz Mohammed, who is currently in exile in Lebanon but who is reported to be still preaching jihad to his Australian followers by telephone.

Ruddock has stated that they are pushing officials to rewrite the laws quickly, within weeks in fact, so that such films can be stopped. Failing this he says he may be forced to act independently and change the Act himself. Although the laws were changed in 2005 to try and give the power to try and refuse classifications to such films it seems the changes have not yet been enacted.

It's an interesting story, and one where I'm well aware we don't know all the facts behind it. If it is to stop specific films such as this then it is needed, but then laws such as these can be stretched and used to restrict films that may be controversial but often worthwhile. It's always a fine line and requires careful control.





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Comments

As much as I hate films that are sympathetic to terrorism (Paradise Now, Syriana, etc.), I don't like stomping people's free speech rights (at least in America - I don't know how things work in Aus).

Still, if the film blatantly calls for sectarian violence or overthrowing the government or a coup or something, it should not be allowed to be shown. But that's just my opinion.

This looks to me very much like a moral panic in the making - and one that is very conveniently timed given that the Australian government is - yet again - seeking to tighten their already censorship rules.

In short, Ruddock - who hasn't seen the film and wants more powers - is claiming that this film should be banned. Office of Film and Literature Classification director Des Clark - who has seen the film - is saying that, although it's offensive, it contains no incitement and doesn't deserve anything stronger than a PG.

For Drew's information, we actually have NO guaranteed freedom of speech in Australia, and we never will as long as governments here insist that we don't need a bill of rights (while continuing to infringe on what rights we do have).

Paul is right, this is just the latest manifestation of government-sponsored Islamophobia in this country. Theoretically, I know, it could lead to the banning of almost any film celebrating the armed overthrow of a regime, but in practice it will only be limited to this sort of Islamist jihad type of production. I'm not saying, of course, that I necessarily believe these films should be made available; I'm just not blind as to why the government doesn't want them available.

The story of the film getting a PG classification is interesting. A few years ago there was a kerfuffle about a planned screening of a David Irving video in Melbourne. Upon doing a bit of research, I was interested to discover the OFLC had actually passed this video for sale in this country (ironic, given that Irving himself is banned from entering Australia) with a G rating about ten years earlier. Apparently they concurred that it could be considered as offensive, but it wasn't contravening any actual laws as such. It apparently does contravene anti-vilification laws in New South Wales, hence you couldn't sell or show it here, but in Victoria it's OK.

This is why the new fuss over the terrorism videos is interesting. They don't contravene any laws either. Yet. Why is there such a fuss now, though, when hardly anyone gave a damn about the Irving tape in 1993 and not many more people really would've cared about the proposed screening in Melbourne in 2003? Because people here aren't as scared of Irving as they are of Muslims. Indeed, deep down I'd say a substantial number of people here would probably agree with Irving's shit, whether or not they'd publicly admit it. There must be some reason why the Australia League of Rights (who openly sell Irving's stuff along with a mass of other racist and anti-Semitic material without seeming to suffer the same degree of official harrassment as Muslims cop for selling the same thing; I presume the fact that they're nominally Christian helps them get away with it) has survived for nearly half a century; someone must be putting money into it...

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