Cineworld drops a film about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter after protests

A cinema chain was forced to pull a film about the Prophet Muhammadthe daughter of for fear of the security of her staff.

Cineworld told The Independent it has been removed The Lady of Heaven of schedules across the UK following protests by Muslims who accused the company of “promoting hatred”.

Protesters outside branches in Bolton and elsewhere claimed the work was blasphemous and that freedom of expression should not apply to the issue of Islam. In response, filmmakers regretted the suggestion that people offended by a film should be able to dictate what British people can watch in the cinema.

The film opens with the invasion of Iraq by Isis and features a graphic jihad assassination. It then goes on to document the life of Fatima, the daughter of the founder of Islam, during the seventh century.

Islamic tradition forbids the direct portrayal of religious figures and the film’s director Eli King portrays Fatima as a faceless character, veiled in a black veil.

Protesters accused the film’s authors of inaccurately depicting religious history and negatively portraying three of Islam’s most important figures. Demonstrations took place in Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham and Sheffield.

On Monday, protesters claimed they were “offended” by the film and the way it illustrated the lives of respected religious figures.

One person in Bradford, West Yorkshire, said: “We are very offended. We have the right not to be insulted.

“You’re talking about freedom of expression, but where does your freedom of expression go when it comes to critique of your policies when it comes to critical analysis of your version of history?

“You are not allowed to tell us our story. We will not allow this film to continue. “

Others carried placards saying “It’s not okay to offend $ 1.8 billion #handsoffoursuperheroes” and “Stop the screening,” while using megaphones to get their message across.

In Bolton, local mosque council president Asif Patel wrote a letter to his local branch of Cineworld in which he called the film “blasphemous.”

He said: “Many of you are well aware of the recent film Lady of the Sky which has caused a lot of misery to Muslims across the globe.

“It is supported by sectarian ideology and is blasphemous in nature to the Muslim community. It greatly disrespects the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in many ways and deeply worries every Muslim.

“It also misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history.

“The plot begs the question of how much the producers have considered the huge impact of this film on the Muslim community and the notions of holiness they hold dear.”

“In Bolton, we are a very diverse community and very respectful of each other’s culture and honor of community cohesion.”

The protests were reminiscent of religious outrage in previous decades, as were the reactions of Christians to The Life of Brian by Monty Python and Jerry Springer: The Opera. Similar claims that freedom of expression should not extend to religious issues were promoted during violent protests against Muhammad’s comics.

Last year Imran Khan, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, demanded that Western nations criminalize blasphemy amid deadly protests in the South Asian country.

Protests at Cineworld in Birmingham on 5 June

(@ bob_cart124 / SWNS)

A spokesman for the Islamic Council of Britain (MCB) called for a “respectful dialogue” between protesters and supporters of The Lady of Heaven.

They said: “The MCB, which proudly represents branches from across the different schools of thought in our faith, supports those scholars and leaders who advocate for greater unity and for the common good, as commanded by our holy prophet (peace be upon him). ).

“The MCB has always advocated for respectful dialogue on interfaith relations. There are some – including many of the supporters of this film or those involved in sectarianism in their response – whose main purpose is to foster hatred. We must not let them succeed.”

A Cineworld spokesman said The Independent the chain had pulled all the screens from The Lady of Heaven for fear of violence.

They said: “Due to recent events related to screenings of The Lady of Heavenwe have made the decision to cancel future screenings of the film nationwide to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. “

Following suggestions Vue cinemas did similarly, a spokesman for that company said The Independent: “Vue takes seriously the responsibilities that come with providing a platform for a wide range of content and believes in showing films of interest to various communities across the UK.

“Vue will show a film only after the British Film Board (BBFC) evaluates and evaluates [it]. The Lady of Heaven has been accredited by BBFC and is featured in a number of our cinemas. Decisions on how long a film stays in a show are made on a site-by-site basis and based on a range of commercial and operational factors. “

London-based Malik Shlibak, executive producer of The Lady of Heavencalled the decision to pull the film from the cinema chain “unacceptable”.

He said: “We think the protests have brought a lot of newly found attention to the film, which previously didn’t exist from people who hadn’t heard of the film, and we’re fine with the fact that people are protesting.

“But I think it’s really unacceptable in this country what they’re asking for – it’s the removal of this film from the cinemas because they’re offended by it.

“That’s pretty stupid, because everyone has the ability to share their thoughts and realize their freedom of speech.

“I really believe from all sides, from the cinema perhaps [to] the Islamic Council of Britain that there is this defeat and bowing to these radical extremists and their demands. “

He added: “I think this is more than The Lady of Heaven as an individual film, this is about our British values ​​and how much these mean to us. Those groups have now been given the power to dictate what the British public can and cannot watch in their local cinemas. “

Additional SWNS reports

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