Pakistani authorities on Tuesday blocked the release of a film that sheds light on moral policing and intolerance in society after receiving complaints by a hard-line Islamist political party.
The film `Zindgi Tamasha’ (Circus of Life) was approved by Pakistan’s censor board for release on Jan. 24 but came under fire from activists with the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party, who asked the government for a ban and said they would hold a rally against the film on Wednesday.
“The movie will be re-examined on Feb. 3,’’ the provincial government of Punjab said in a statement.
The Punjab government said the decision was taken in the wake of persistent complaints from different groups.
Pir Zubair Kasuri, a spokesperson for the TLP, said “the movie is blasphemous and should not be released at all’’.
Filmmaker Sarmad Khoosat said on Twitter that he received “dozens of threatening phone calls’’ because of the film.
Thousands of people supported Khoosat who has also written to the prime minister over the issue.
In October, a trailer of the film that showed the misuse of the blasphemy law was taken down from YouTube after a strong reaction from Islamist groups.
Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in Pakistan and those accused can become the target of Muslim vigilante groups.
Earlier, an anti-terrorism court handed down a prison term of 55 years each to 86 workers of the TLP.
The group was at the forefront of rioting in 2018 when Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been on death row for eight years, for allegedly insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad (PBUH).