Are gore and ghosts ungodly? For years Hollywood has been eyeing the huge audiences in two of the most populous Muslim nations in the world. But now legislators in neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia–both densely populated, with moderate Muslim majorities are raising obstacles, insisting on quotas on foreign films and talking about banning horror flicks as unIslamic.

In Indonesia, a new law stipulates that 60 percent of all movies shown in the cinemas have to be local productions, and promises further controls on content, some of which will likely reflect religious values. Meanwhile, Puteri Umno, a political party in Malaysia contends that “movies with ghosts, superstitious and mystical elements … do not carry any positive message, but instead may destroy the faith.” Puteri wants to see the revival of a ban on horror movies that was only overturned six years ago. “It’s easy to put the blame on movies for social ills, but movies aren’t the root cause of social ills,” answered the president of the Malaysian Film Producers Association, and said a ban on movies wasn’t the way to keep young Muslims from straying.
For Hollywood, the ban would come as a blow. Not only has Asia represented one of the few growth areas for moviemakers, horror movies tend to do especially well with overseas moviegoers. Malaysian Bollywood fans, however, may have more to lose: they worry that the ban will be extended next to the vivacious–not to say licentious–and popular Indian imports.

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