'Blasphemous' Muhammed film got 'huge push' thanks to protests, producer tells LBC

8 June 2022, 10:39

Producer of 'blasphemous' film speaks to Nick Ferrari

By Seán Hickey

The producer of a film about the Prophet Muhammed's daughter tells Nick Ferrari that the protests against it 'have given the film a huge tailwind'.

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UK cinema chain Cineworld cancelled screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad after Muslim protesters decried the film as "blasphemous" and picketed cinemas.

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.

Producer of the film Hussein Ashmere phoned Nick Ferrari to react to the uproar around the film.

He explained that "initially it was disappointing to hear" the decision of British cinema chains to take The Lady of Heaven off their screens "however...the protests have given the film a huge push, it has given it a huge tailwind."

He went on to explain that there hasn't been such a response in any other country the film has been released: "The UK wasn't its first release.

"It's been released in the US, it's been released in Canada, in Europe, but no such reaction apart from what we found here in the UK."

Read more: Film about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter pulled from screens after protests

A screening of the film in Bolton was 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 may 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.”

Read more: Teacher who showed Prophet Muhammad cartoon allowed to return to work

'Right now, we are being divided.'

Mr Ashmere went on to explain why his team saw the story important to tell.

"The daughter of the prophet is a huge figure for all Muslims all over the world – 2 billion muslims – and not many people know her story."

He went on: "For us it was very important for us to portray her story in the most respectful manner", adding that "many Muslims who have gone to see the film have come back with nothing but praise."

Cineworld said it took the decision to cancel all showings of The Lady of Heaven to “ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.

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.”

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.”

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