The French ministry of culture will allow cinemas to show the controversial film Salafistes , which features interviews with North African jihadists, but have banned it for anyone under 18 in a rare move for a documentary in France.
The over-18 rating is normally only given to pornographic films, although it has featured for mainstream films when politicians have got themselves involved in the process.
According to the filmmakers, the 18 rating will kill the film , as it effectively bans it from being aired on public TV and means cinemas will be reluctant to show it.
Salafistes, whose title refers to the ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam that drives movements such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, drew accusations of promoting terrorism by showing frank interviews with jihadists bent on attacking
Western, and in particular French, targets.
It was also accused of being an attack on human dignity in that it shows the murder of French policeman Ahmed Merabet during the January 2015 attacks on the offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Merabet was shot at point blank range on the
street outside the magazine's offices.
Filmmakers François Margolin and Lemime Ould Salem said they had removed the offending scene, but insist that the film should be given as wide an audience as possible. According to the filmmakers, the violence itself serves as the best counterpoint
to the interviewees' Salafist philosophy. Margolin said:
We are reporters. We tell people what is happening and what people are saying, we want viewers to hear the [jihadists'] arguments from their own mouths Reporting on what they say is not the same thing as promoting their ideas. When making the film, we
worked on the principle that our audience is intelligent.