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Film about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter pulled from screens after protests
7 June 2022, 20:11 | Updated: 7 June 2022, 20:13
Cineworld cancels showings of The Lady of Heaven after branches were picketed by activists who labelled it 'blasphemous'
UK cinema chain Cineworld has cancelled screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad after Muslim protesters decried the film as ‘blasphemous’ and picketed cinemas.
Cineworld said it took the decision to cancel all showings of The Lady of Heaven to “ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.
A video circulating online showed the manager of Sheffield Cineworld telling a group of protesters that Sunday night’s screening had been cancelled. In the clip he can be heard saying: "I am just confirming that this film is cancelled tonight and for the rest of this week we will not be showing this film” before cries of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) erupt from the protesters.
Around 200 people are understood to have protested the screening of the film outside Cineworld in Broad Street, Birmingham, on Sunday.
A screening in Bolton was also cancelled after 100 protesters turned up at the branch. Bolton Council of Mosques had sent an email to the cinema calling for it to be cancelled.
Signed by chairman Asif Patel, the email stated: ““You many well be aware of the recently released film ‘Lady of Heaven’ which has caused much distress to Muslims across the globe.
“It is underpinned with a sectarian ideology and is blasphemous in nature to the Muslim community.
“The storyline begs the question to what extent the producers had considered the huge impact of this film upon the Muslim community and notions of sacredness dearly held by them.”
The Muslim community have expressed anger over the film which they say disrespects the prophet by putting his ‘face’ on screen. They also disagree with the portrayal of companions of the prophet in the film.
Cineworld said in a statement: “Due to recent incidents related to screenings of ‘The Lady of Heaven’, we have made the decision to cancel upcoming screenings of the film nationwide to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”
More than 117,000 people have signed a petition to try to get the film removed from all UK cinemas.
Cinema chain Vue said in a statement: ““Vue takes seriously the responsibilities that come with providing a platform for a wide variety of content and believes in showcasing films of interest to diverse communities across the UK.
“Vue will only show a film once the BBFC (the independent British Board of Film Classification) has assessed and rated a film. The Lady of Heaven has been BBFC accredited and is on show in a number of our cinemas.
“Decisions about how long a film remains on show are taken on a site-by-site basis and based on a variety of commercial and operational factors.”
Claire Fox, who sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Fox of Buckley, tweeted that the decision to cancel the screening showed the “creep of extra-parliamentary blasphemy law” was now censoring film.