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The Kite Runner banned in Afghanistan

india Updated: Jan 17, 2008 14:08 IST
The Kite Runner

The Afghan government has banned

The Kite Runner

film from theaters and DVD shops, an official said on Thursday, though Afghan shop owners with stalls at US military bases are still selling the movie there.

The Afghan government banned the film more than a month ago because of a rape scene of a young boy and the ethnic tensions that the film highlights, said Din Mohammad Rashed Mubarez, the deputy minister of the Ministry of Information and Culture. Shops selling the movie would be closed, he said.

"It showed the ethnic groups of Afghanistan in a bad light," Mubarez said. "We respect freedom of speech, we support freedom of speech, but unfortunately we have difficulties in Afghan society, and if this film is shown in the cinemas, it is humiliating for one of our ethnic groups."

The Kite Runner

is based on the 2003 best-selling novel by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini. In the story, the main character witnesses the rape of his ethnic Hazara friend by an ethnic Pashtun. The two groups fought bitterly during the country's 1990s civil war.

Ethnic violence has not been a problem recently, but many Afghans fear any hairpin trigger that could reawaken the infighting.

Paramount Vantage, which released the film, flew four boy actors in the movie out of Afghanistan last month over fears they could be ostracized or subjected to violence.

Though the movie was never scheduled for release in Afghanistan, officials worried that pirated DVDs could reach Kabul and some residents might react violently.

Pirated DVDs are a booming business in Afghanistan, and high-quality DVDs of new releases are frequently available the same week the movies are released in theaters in the United States.