Hundreds of protesters turned out in Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham and Sheffield to demonstrate the Cineworld cinemas following the weekend’s screenings of The Lady of Heaven
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Cineworld cinemas have shut down a film chronicling the life of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter after protesters branded it “blasphemous”.
Hundreds of protesters descended on Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham and Sheffield to demonstrate outside theaters after the weekend’s screenings of The Lady of Heaven.
The film begins with the invasion of Iraq by ISIS and depicts a graphic jihadist killing. It then documents the life of Fatima, daughter of the founder of Islam, in the seventh century.
Islamic tradition forbids the direct depiction of religious figures, and the film’s director, Eli King, portrays Fatima as a faceless figure draped in a black veil.
But protesters have accused filmmakers of inaccurately portraying religious history and negatively portraying three of Islam’s most important figures – and other critics claim that negative characters were portrayed by black actors, which they say “is due to racial bias towards black people “.
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Those who came out for peaceful protest screenings on Monday said they were “offended” by the film and the way it showed the lives of revered religious figures.
Now, after four days of protests, the film has been removed from several Cineworld and Vue theaters across the country.
A protester in Bradford, West Yorks, said: “We are very offended. We have the right not to be offended.
“You talk about free speech, but where does your free speech go when it comes to criticizing your policies, when it comes to critically analyzing your version of history?
“You have no right to tell us our story. We will not continue this film.”
Others carried signs reading “It’s not okay to insult 1.8 billion #handsofoursuperheroes” and “Stop screening” while using megaphones to get their message across.
In Bolton, local chairman of the Council of Mosques, Asif Patel, wrote a letter to his local Cineworld branch, where he called the film “blasphemous”.
He said: “Many of you are familiar with the recently released film ‘Lady of Heaven’ which has caused much grief to Muslims around the world.
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“It is underpinned by a sectarian ideology and blasphemous towards the Muslim community.
“It grossly respects the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in many ways and is deeply disturbing to any Muslim.
“It also misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most notable figures in Islamic history.
“The plot begs the question to what extent the producers took into account the enormous impact this film had on the Muslim community and the ideas of holiness they upheld.
“At Bolton we are a very diverse community and respect each other’s culture and honor for community cohesion.”
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called for a “respectful dialogue” between protesters and film supporters.
They said: “The MCB, proudly representing members from the diverse schools of thought of our faith, supports those scholars and leaders who work for greater unity and for the common good, as commanded by our Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) .
“The MCB has always advocated a respectful dialogue of intra-religious relationships.
“There are some – including many supporters of this film or those who engage in sectarianism in their response – whose primary goal is to incite hatred.
“We must not let them succeed.”
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But London-based Malik Shlibak, executive producer of The Lady of Heaven, called the decision to pull the film from the theaters “unacceptable.”
He said: “We think the protests have brought a lot of new attention to the film that didn’t exist before, from people who hadn’t heard of the film, and we’re okay with people protesting.
“But I think it’s actually unacceptable in this country what they’re asking — the removal of this film from theaters because they’re offended.
“This is something pretty stupid because everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts and exercise their freedom of expression.
“I really believe from all sides, from cinema maybe from the Muslim Council of Britain, that there is this surrender and submission to these radical extremists and their demands.
“I think this is more than The Lady of Heaven as a single film, it’s about our British values and how much they mean to us.
“These groups now have the power to dictate what the British public can and cannot see in their local cinemas.”
Following the protests, Cineworld in Bolton released a statement saying the film would be “pulled” off schedule.
A Cineworld spokesman said: “Due to the protests outside Bolton Cineworld we will be closing the cinema doors and only admitting those with proof of ticket purchase.
“We have withdrawn the film and it will no longer be shown in this cinema.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/cineworld-pulls-12million-film-protesters-27172367 Cineworld pulls 'blasphemous' £12million film about Prophet Muhammad's daughter after protests