Groups in Palangkaraya & Manado force theaters to pull ‘212: The Power of Love’ film based on anti-Ahok protest

Promotional poster for ‘212: The Power of Love’. Photo: Warna Pictures

Forget Avengers or Deadpool — the most hotly discussed movie in Indonesia right now might just be ‘212: The Power of Love’. And for good reason: it’s based on the mass protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on December 2, 2016 for his supposed blasphemy against Islam (that ultimately led to a court conviction and current imprisonment).

Now that it’s out, it’s hardly shocking that the film has been met with some resistance, most notably in the Central Kalimantan city of Palangkaraya and the North Sulawesi capital of Manado recently.

In Palangkaraya, as shown in a viral tweet posted two days ago, a group of people claiming to be of the native Dayak tribe successfully pressured a movie theater to pull the film from its screens, saying that “there is no room for radicalism” in their hometown.

After the cancellation of the screening, a subsequent tweet was posted showing moviegoers who had bought tickets for 212 praying together.

Similarly, in Manado, a group claiming to be of the native Minahasa tribe, wearing traditional clothing, went to several movie theaters in the city in huge numbers demanding that they not show 212.

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Speaking about the protests against the film, 212’s lead actor Fauzi Baadila said he understands some people’s aversions to the movie, especially considering religious tensions in the country at the moment.

“Yes, the film is being rejected by people in some regions. Maybe because the atmosphere in Indonesia is heated at the moment. Many differences, many incidents, many agendas, so maybe the film is feeling the effect,” Fauzi said in Jakarta yesterday, as quoted by Kumparan.

The film’s director, Jastis Arimba, says he was disappointed that people were rejecting his work without having watched it.

“I’m not too sure why there’s rejection, but from what I saw online, those who reject the film generally haven’t seen it and assumed that the film promotes radical values, whereas that can’t be farther from the truth,” he said, as quoted by Metro TV.

Jastis added that the movie actually tries to educate Muslims to be more tolerant towards others while its general theme is peace and love (as if the subtitle wasn’t clear enough, the repetitive tagline is, “It’s about love, faith, and peace”).

The movie centers around Rahmat, played by actor Fauzi Baadila. Rahmat is a journalist at a major media company who had to return to his village following his mother’s death. His father, a respected religious figure in the village, hasn’t spoken to Rahmat in years, but they reconcile when they take part in the 212 protest together.

The public has been divided over the film’s rejection in Palangkaraya and Manado, with one camp arguing that its central premise, the anti-Ahok protest, can’t be divorced from its radical undertones, while others say that forcing theaters to pull the movie is a clear violation of freedom of expression.

Where do you stand on the issue? Let us know in the comments below.

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