Ayat-Ayat Cinta 2 is the sequel to the hugely popular Indonesian romance film, Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Verses About Love), which explored themes of love from an Islamic standpoint.
But, somewhat ironically, a controversy involving religious attire might hurt ticket sales for the conservative-targeted film’s sequel, which is due to hit theaters in December.
Last week, the film’s studio, MD Pictures, held a press conference to reveal two of the actresses who are going to star in the sequel. Those who are familiar with the religious principles behind the niqab (face-covering cloth but with an opening for the eyes), will understand immediately why the reveal of the actresses drew so much controversy:
In Islam, women who choose to wear the niqab do so because they believe their face is part of their aurat (parts of the body which must be covered up for the sake of modesty). For the two actresses, Dewi Sandra and Tatjana Saphira, to wear and then remove niqabs as part of a marketing gimmick was deemed by some Muslims to be an offensive trivialization of Islamic attire.
Actress Soraya Abdullah, through her Instagram account (which has strangely disappeared recently), started a call to boycott Ayat-Ayat Cinta 2 because of the niqab controversy.
“This case constitutes blasphemy of religion. I implore all followers of Islam to boycott this film, because the niqab is not to be exploited and cannot be bought with the price of a movie ticket. It’s a symbol of devoutness by a woman to Almighty God,” Soraya wrote on her Instagram account, as picked up by Detik today.
After several hashtags for the boycott movement went viral, one of the actresses, Dewi Sandra, posted this apology on her Instagram account:
Indra Bekti, who hosted the reveal of the actresses and even helped remove Tatjana Saphira’s niqab, also issued an apology on Instagram.