A documentary film about teen Palestinian heroine Ahed Tamimi has been banned from public screening at a Singapore film festival, with authorities claiming the film is “skewed” and lacks balance or an Israeli perspective on the conflict.
The documentary, Radiance of Resistance, looks at the Palestine-Israeli conflict through her eyes and those of another young female activist and was due to be shown at the Singapore Palestinian Film Festival on Thursday.
Tamimi's physical confrontation with heavily-armed Israeli personnel and subsequent arrest and detention has made the 16-year-old a worldwide symbol of Palestinian bravery, with commentators comparing her to a modern-day Joan of Arc whose steadfastness exemplified the cause of Palestine's struggle.
Independent movie theatre and festival host The Projector, which is hosting the second edition of the film festival, had posted a synopsis of the film describing it as taking "an intimate look at their everyday lives and their importance as the new generation of Palestinian non-violent resistance."
It was screened at a number of festivals worldwide in 2017 and won Best Documentary at the Respect Human Rights Film Festival in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has become even more topical following Tamimi’s arrest last month.
Authorities in the Southeast Asian island country stated that the film lacked “counterbalance,” according to the website of the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore or IMDA.
"The documentary focuses on the Tamimi family, and two young girls, who are presented as the new faces of Palestinian resistance. In holding up the girls as role models to be emulated in an ongoing conflict, the film incites activists to continue their resistance against the alleged oppressors," said the IMDA.
“The skewed narrative of the film is inflammatory and has the potential to cause disharmony amongst the different races and religions in Singapore.”
While Singapore’s authorities are known to keep a tight rein on public speech and the media, especially when it comes to matters related to race and religion, outright bans are rarer.
Tamimi was charged on Monday with counts of aggravated assault and will be tried in an Israeli military court. An adult found guilty of assaulting a soldier could be jailed for up to 10 years, but Tamimi is a minor, so such an outcome is unlikely.
Adela Foo, the organizer of the Singapore festival, noted her disappointment with the ban but called it “understandable,” without elaborating.
“At the end of the day, the IMDA’s position is one to be respected,” the 23-year-old student told Reuters.
With a sizable Muslim minority and surrounded by Muslim majority neighbors where sympathy for the Palestinian cause runs high, Singapore maintains friendly diplomatic and military ties with Israel. But it has lined up with many other countries opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Around 15 percent of Singapore’s 3.3 million resident population aged 15 years and over-identify as Muslim, recent government surveys show.