EXCLUSIVE: Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s latest documentary feature, The Accused: Damned or Devoted?, will receive its first UK broadcast on BBC Four on March 2.
The BBC Storyville project focuses on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws by following ambitious Cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, examining the cases of those accused of disrespecting Islam, including Asia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent almost 10 years on death row.
Director Ali Naqvi said the project was “the most dangerous film” he had ever worked on.
“When I was initially approached to possibly explore this topic, I refused,” he explained. “As I saw my country falling prey to the political ambitions of a despot, one who was using Islam as a veneer, I wanted to expose Rizvi. Here was a cleric who did not speak for me or other Muslims, he only spoke for his own political ambitions. In doing so, he was also responsible for the lynching of several minorities and Muslims who had been falsely accused of blasphemy. He had to be stopped and this was what motivated me to make this film.”
Ahead of its broadcast, the film is screening at London’s Frontline Club on February 18 and at the doc specialist venue DocHouse on February 25.
The doc is a Brook Lapping and 64th Street Media Production for BBC in coproduction with ZDF/Arte.