Eindhoven film halts The Kerala Story showings after threats

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Eindhoven cinema LAB-1 has stopped selling tickets for a controversial Indian film because its staff are being harassed.

The cinema has been showing The Kerala Story, about radical Muslim women, for the past two weeks but, a spokesman told broadcaster NOS, cinema staff are being threatened via social media and through phone calls. 

“The messages are becoming more intimidating and threatening and when staff were approached personally, we decided enough was enough,” the spokesman said. 

The sale of tickets for Sunday’s showing has been stopped and all reference to the film removed from the website. The cinema has not made a formal police complaint but has reported the intimidation, NOS said.

Eindhoven city council said in a short statement that is aware of how sensitive the film is among the Muslim community. “We are in good contact with both our network within the Muslim community as well as the police and LAB-1,” the statement said. 

The Kerala Story is about a group of young women from the Indian state of Kerala who are forced to convert to Islam and joined terrorist group Islamic State. It is based on claims that thousands of Indian women have been coerced into joining IS, but the Indian government suggests the true figure is no more than 200. 

The makers stress that the film is fictional, but its critics say that the film gives an exaggerated and simplified picture of how women from Kerala have ended up with IS. In addition, they say, the film is trying to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims in India. 

There has been trouble at showings in Birmingham in England. The Utrecht branch of political party Denk also called on local cinemas not to show the film, which it said spread hatred. 

According to LAB-1, the intensity of the threats against the cinema increased after far-right leader Geert Wilders called on his Twitter followers to see the film, NOS reported.

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