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Local censors ban Masud’s ‘Moina’

First Bangladeshi pic to open Directors Fortnight pulled

DHAKA — Bangladeshi censors have banned Tareque Masud’s “Matir moina” (The Clay Bird), the first Bangladeshi film to kick off Directors Fortnight in Cannes.

The censors disagreed with the pic’s portrayal of Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, in Bangladesh, which is governed by the Islam-allied Bangladesh National Party.

The portrayal “of madrassa education did not comply with the reality. It can hurt the religious sentiment of one section of the society,” a board member said.

The film tells the story of a boy attending a madrassa against the backdrop of political turmoil. The boy is torn between a teacher who believes in political action and another who feels students should not be used for ideological ends.

It is a rare insight for Western audiences into the world of madrassas, which have been described as breeding grounds for Islamic extremism post-Sept. 11.

Masud described the banning as “shocking, stupid, totally undemocratic.”

The film is personal project for the director, who spent eight years in such a seminary until the bloody 1971 independence war against Pakistan.