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Thought it's clear now that the ongoing riots in the Middle East aren't caused entirely by the inflammatory film The Innocence of Muslims, the American-made movie continues to enrage people all over the world-- especially Middle Eastern governments currently coping with the fallout from the riots. The parts of the movie uploaded to YouTube have been blocked in several countries, the filmmaker himself has a bounty put on his head by a member of the Pakistani government, but that hasn't been enough to calm down the firestorm.

Free speech laws in the United States means it's not possible to ban The Innocence of Muslims or arrest the filmmaker, but now an Iranian government official has a demand for a different kind of punishment. According to Entertainment Weekly, Iran's Javad Shamaghdari, of a government-controlled cinema agency, has called for the country to boycott the 2013 Oscars until the Academy denounces The Innocence of Muslims. The Academy has not made a statement about this demand, and it's unclear exactly how serious it is-- Iran has already chosen its contender for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, after all, and has yet to announce any official intention to withdraw it.

If Iran does indeed wind up boycotting the Oscars, it's unclear how big an impact that might have. After all, only five films are chosen as the final Best Foreign Language Film nominees, and it would be just as easy for the Academy to say that they didn't choose Iran's submission as acknowledge the boycott. The Academy truly had nothing to do with the production of The Innocence of Muslims, and virtually everyone in the movie industry has condemned the film already-- an official Academy denunciation of the movie may not mean that much. But the ongoing riots over the movie prove that it's a volatile and dangerous film, and if a country as powerful as Iran wants to demand a condemnation, the Academy may wind up being wise to give it.

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