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New Indonesian film explores religious motivation for Bali attacks

New Indonesian film explores religious motivation for Bali attacks

A new Indonesian movie about the 2002 Bali bombings explores the minds of the Islamic militants who carried out the attacks, refocusing attention on a sensitive topic in the world's most populous Muslim nation _ the carnage carried out in the name of God.
"Long Road to Heaven," by one of the country's most acclaimed filmmakers, examines the attacks from multiple point of views: the victims and their relatives, an American surfer who lost a loved one in the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes in the United States, an Australian journalist, the islanders and the bombers themselves, played by actors speaking imaginary dialogue.
"How can you speak as if we love killing and death? Think of the thousands of children in Afghanistan! Look at what they have to endure," Amrozi, one of the attackers now on death row, is portrayed as saying when a co-conspirator expresses doubts about the operation on the resort island.
"This is a holy war against infidels! Not children."
The Oct. 12, 2002, suicide attacks on two packed nightclubs killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, and thrust the mostly moderate, secular nation onto the front lines of the war on terror.
The blasts were carried out by the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah group, which has since been blamed for a series of other attacks on Western targets in Indonesia, including a second set of suicide bombings on Bali in 2005.
The 2002 Bali attacks put many Muslim clerics and politicians on the defensive, with some unwilling to publicly acknowledge that the bombers believed they were acting for Islam. Conspiracy theories alleging U.S. or Jewish involvement remain popular in conservative Muslim circles.
Indonesian media, which have a long tradition of avoiding discussions of religion because of rules laid down by former dictator Suharto, have largely steered clear of examining the motives of the attackers.
"As a nation Indonesia needs to raise awareness (about terrorism) and not to let the issue fade away ... not only about the terrorists among us, but also about tolerance and accepting differences," said producer Nia Dinata. "If we have awareness I think we can minimize the risk of being terrorized."
Dinata, 36, who studied film making in the United States, said the script writers watched hours of news footage and read media accounts of the bombing, investigation and trials while researching the film, but that much of it was fiction.
The film portrays Hambali, al-Qaida's alleged point man in Southeast Asia and now in U.S. custody, and several other terrorists deciding on the target of the attacks in a series of planning meetings in Thailand.
They argue among each other and tensions surface over leadership issues and tactics.
Dinata's last film examined another rarely discussed issue in Indonesia, polygamy. Her previous movie was a satirical comedy exposing the empty lives of Indonesia's rich, notable also for its sensitive portrayal of a homosexual relationship.
"As a filmmaker I always welcome all the debates, all the threats, all the criticism, all the support," she said in an interview this week in the bustling office of her film company. "When the film is out, it belongs to public, not me anymore."
The bombers are not the only Muslim voices in "Long Road to Heaven."
Haji Islam, a Balinese Muslim who worked through the night carting bodies and tending the injured, expresses his anger at the attackers.
"The people who do these terrible things, they have no understanding of Islam. They cannot see beyond their own pain," Islam says. "They think that by doing this they will get a short-cut to heaven. But ... those who seek to cheat Allah by not earning their way will not get their reward."
The film passed Indonesian censors with a few cuts, including a scene in which the bombers performed evening prayers before launching the attacks.
"They said surely Muslims on a mission of bombing and evil would not pray first, but if we see the facts that is what they did because for them they were carrying out a holy act," said director Enison Sinaro. "There was no need to censor it. A film should show the truth. This event is etched in our history and cannot be erased."
The film is being released in Indonesia on Thursday. It will then be screened at international film festivals.
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On the Net:
http://www.longroadtoheaven.com


Updated : 2021-10-20 06:04 GMT+08:00