Iran announced it was yanking its entry in the Oscars race because of the “intolerable insult” of the US-made film that has angered Muslims in several countries.
Oscars organizers in Los Angeles said they had not heard officially from Iranian authorities, after the announcement in Tehran by Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini.
“I am officially announcing that in reaction to the intolerable insult to the Great Prophet of Islam we will refrain from taking part in this year’s Oscars and we ask other Islamic nations to show their protest like this,” the Minister said, cited by the ISNA news agency.
Iran was pulling its sole movie entered in the Academy Awards, “A Cube of Sugar,” after discussions with its production company, he said.
The move reflected Iran’s fury over the low-budget film made by a group of extremist Christians in the United State.
Excerpts of it dubbed into Arabic and available on the Internet have sparked protests in many Muslim countries, some of which have turned deadly, including one September 11 incident in Libya in which the US Ambassador to that country and three other US officials were killed.
The US Government has stressed it had nothing to do with the film, and regretted its content, but said adherence to freedom of expression meant it could not censor the movie.
Several non-violent protests against the film have taken place in Tehran.
“This film was made in America and the Oscars are held there, and so far no official stance by the nation which made this film has been taken,” Hosseini said, according to ISNA.
In the last Academy Awards, held in February this year, an Iranian film, “A Separation,” won the Oscar for best foreign language film.
A spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles told AFP, “We’ve seen the news reports, but haven’t had any direct communication from the Iranian Selection Committee”.