Minister orders film on Iran be shown

National Post – –

Sarah Boesveld, National Post?? Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

The Harper government sent a diplomatic note to Iran Wednesday, as Heritage Minister James Moore lashed out at Tehran for its part in a campaign that cancelled the screening of a movie critical of the Iranian regime at Library and Archives Canada.

On Wednesday morning, the Minister instructed Library and Archives Canada to show Iranium, a documentary critiquing Iran’s nuclear program, after it cowed to numerous threats of protest and an official request from the Iranian embassy in Canada to not present the film Tuesday night, as scheduled.

In its diplomatic note to Tehran, the government said Canada is a free country and that freedom of expression is a core value that won’t be compromised.

“This movie will be shown, the agreement will be kept and this movie Iranium will be shown at Library and Archives Canada. We will not be moving it to a different facility, we’re not bending to any pressure,” said Mr. Moore on the CBC’s Power and Politics.

“People need to be kept safe, but we don’t back down to people who try to censor people by threats of violence.”

Mr. Moore also called on Canadian authorities to investigate threats made against the library. He said the potential need for an increased security presence “will be taken into account” when the screening is rescheduled in February.

In a statement to the media, the library said it had no choice but to close the Wellington Street building around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“The decision to reschedule will allow [the library] to take the necessary security measures for the upcoming viewing over the next few weeks,” the statement read.

Fred Litwin, president of the Free Thinking Film Society, said he was relieved to hear the library will play host.

“Still, the bigger question to me is what really happened this week? What were those threats, what was said?”

Mr. Litwin originally called Mr. Moore to help him fight the library’s initial cancellation of the movie on Monday. Mr. Moore ordered the library to show the movie, and then took to Twitter after the second cancellation and blamed the Iranian government for trying to “dictate” which films will be shown or not shown in Canada.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney also weighed in on the cancellation, calling it “outrageous.”

“I hope that folks from across the political spectrum will help the Free Thinking Film Society to overcome intimidation & screen the film,” he tweeted Tuesday evening.

Library and Archives Canada has encountered trouble with the Iranian government before, according to writer Ali Dehbashi, who was known for his discordant relationship with the Iranian government, was to appear at the 2003 Ottawa International Writers Festival, but disappeared just before his appearance. The story from Iran’s embassy in Ottawa was that the Canadian embassy in Tehran refused to give Mr. Dehbashi a visa, iPolitics.cawrites. The Canadian government said that wasn’t true. The hour-long documentary by California filmmaker Raphael Shore takes aim at Iran’s policies, including its pursuit of nuclear weapons and support of terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, eventually warning viewers that Iran could pose a nuclear threat to the world. The United Nations Security Council has already made four resolutions against Iran on their nuclear arms program, said Professor Houchang Hassan-Yari, who teaches at the Royal Military College of Canada.

“They are extremely sensitive to this issue,” he said. “It’s much more than just a movie for them, especially if it’s the first and only movie on the subject.”

Calls to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa were not returned Wednesday.

This article was originally published here.

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