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10 Jun, 2016 11:39

Swedish broadcaster cancels terrorism & anti-Semitism film over Muslim backlash fears – report

Sweden's state broadcaster scrapped plans to air a documentary about anti-Semitism and jihad, fearing it could offend the nation's growing Muslim population, Danish media reports. The station says it won't be aired because it failed to document reality.

The film, titled 'Watching the Moon at Night', reportedly takes a detailed look at anti-Semitism and terrorism, alleging a link between the two. It goes on to mention crimes against Jews at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

But although the documentary was largely funded by state broadcaster SVT, the channel is now refusing to air it, declining to purchase the rights to show the film in Sweden.

According to Danish newspaper Berlingske, the decision is over fears of a backlash from Sweden's growing Muslim community.

It's not the first instance of SVT employees pushing back against the documentary, according to Marianne Ahrne, a former film consultant at the Swedish Film Institute who initially approved public funding for the documentary.

Ahrne said that after the funding was approved, the documentary was made subject to a list of conditions, and that SVT submitted “one formal obstacle after another.”

That statement was echoed by director Bo Persson, who specifically accused SVT project manager Lars Säfström of rattling off demands in order for the film to secure funding.

According to Persson, Säfström wanted the film to be more anti-American and anti-Israel. He accused him of trying to “influence the film's content,” adding that such behavior was “totally unacceptable.”

However, the head of SVT's documentary department, Axel Arnö, said the decision was made because the film doesn't fit in with the channel's standards. He claimed it lacked serious journalism, as it was attempting to prove a point rather than document reality.

The move is a rare one for SVT, which almost always airs the projects it has funded. Two Swedish film festivals also chose to drop the documentary from their line-ups, though the documentary has been aired during limited releases in six other countries.

Critics have accused SVT of bowing to political correctness by not airing the film.

Speaking to RT, Rabbi Daniel Alter said the film is “an expression of a larger situation in Sweden, where the Jewish community is under real severe anti-Semitic pressure, and most of it coming from the Muslim community...”

“...I think this is an issue of whether a society wants to remain democratic. And if it wants to remain democratic, then it has to protect all its minorities; not only a part of the minorities has to be protected...you shouldn't protect one community and leave the other community out in the rain alone, out in the cold...,” he said.

Films dealing with the Muslim faith have led to deadly attacks in the past. In 2012, a YouTube trailer for a documentary titled 'Innocence of Muslims' led to violent demonstrations across the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

It's not the first time that the state-run TV channel has faced allegations of political correctness and left-wing bias.

In December, a handbook was leaked in which SVT journalists were told to avoid words like “immigrants,” and to instead call migrants “people on the run.” Additionally, one of the station's journalists was arrested for smuggling a migrant into Sweden earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Sweden has announced that a government-funded imam training course will begin in Stockholm this autumn, and several swimming pools have introduced women-only sessions to accommodate Muslims.

There are no official statistics on the number of Muslims in Sweden, with estimates ranging between 100,000 and 500,000 people. The population has grown since the EU refugee crisis began last year, with Sweden and other European countries accepting an influx of asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa.