COLOGNE, Germany – A far right German political party says it is going ahead with plans for a public screening of Innocence of Muslims in a Muslim neighbourhood of Berlin later this year. A trailer of the anti-Islamic film has sparked violent protest across the Middle East, leading to the deaths of at least four Americans, including Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya. Germany has also been caught up in the protests after demonstrators attacked the German embassy in Sudan, although no one was injured.
German authorities have said they will take “all legal means” to prevent Pro Deutschland – a group with a history of provoking Germany’s Muslim community – from showing the film. German interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich suggested the government might impose a screening ban for Innocence of Muslims, citing public safetly concerns.
But speaking to THR, Lars Seidensticker, chairman of Pro Deutschland’s state faction in Berlin and national party whip, said the screening was going ahead as planed.
“We plan to show the trailer of the film at a public screening in a mainly Muslim area of Berlin on the first or second weekend of November and then, in a nearby cinema or suitable venue, screen the entire movie,” Seidensticker said.
Seidensticker said neither he nor anyone at Pro Deutschland had seen a full version of the film. So far only a 14 minute trailer of Innoncence of Muslims has been available online. On Monday, Pro Deutschland posted what it claimed was the full version but later removed the clip, which, Seidensticker said only showed excepts of the film. The group’s website now hosts the Innocence trailer.
Seidensticker said was in contact with the anti-Islamic pastor Terry Jones, reportedly a consultant on the flm and its release and expected to receive a full-length version of Innoncence of Muslims from him in due time. Pro Deutschland invited Jones to speak at the event in Berlin but the German government refused him entry into the country, citing fears of public disorder.
Despite widespread political opposition to the German screening, Pro Deutschland remains defiant – and confident the courts will back them.
“I can’t see the courts banning (the screening),” Seidensticker told THR. “Islamic terrorists can’t dictate what we can and can’t show in a free country like Germany.”
Germany’s Criminal Code outlaws hate speech if it is determined to be a threat to public safety. In 2006, a court gave a German pensioner a one-year suspended sentence for violating the law when he printed “Koran, the Holy Qur’an” on rolls of toliet paper which he then sent to several mosques across the country.
The recent uproar over Innocence of Muslims comes after a summer of unrest in Germany which has seen several clashes between far-right groups and Islamist protestors. Most were sparked by a series of demonstrations organized by Seidensticker and Pro Deutschland, who toured the country to march in front of mosques and prominent Muslim centers with posters displaying the notorious Danish Mohammed cartoons, the caricatures which sparked riots in several Islamic countries four years ago.