Muslims in London have aggressively protested a movie theater for showing Lady of Heaven, a film they claim is “blasphemous.” Another U.K. cinema chain has pulled the film everywhere in the nation as a result of stated safety concerns.
The film depicts the daughter of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Although she is obscured by a veil in the film, the portrayal is unacceptable to many Muslims.
Following the cancellation of showings of the film across the U.K. by Cineworld theaters, one theater in Stratford, East London, owned by Vue theaters was mobbed by dozens of protestors who demanded that the establishment stop showing the movie also.
One protestor demanded that the “blasphemous film be taken down immediately” and declared that it wrongfully “portrayed black people as filthy criminals.”
Malik Shlibak is the executive director of Lady of Heaven. He says that demanding the removal of films from “cinemas due to being offended” is not acceptable in the U.K.
Vue has so far not declared it is removing the film from all of its theaters as Cineworld has done. The chain has instead given the responsibility for deciding whether to show it to managers of individual theaters. The chain issued a media statement saying that decisions about how long to run individual films are made on a “site-by-site basis and based on a variety of commercial and operational factors.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Independent Advisor for Social Cohesion and Resilience Sara Khan said that Cineworld took the action of pulling the film “out of fear” because it was bullied by protestors’ demands.
She said that although it is easy to “criticize Cineworld for its limp response,” citizens must ask what support the chain received from local governments and police. She added that she has seen for years how “religious mobs have been appeased” simply to achieve a short-term solution of getting protests to break up.
Khan said that such measures amount to a “failure of leadership” because British democratic values are not defended with “sufficient vigor.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also commented on the protests by saying he is very concerned about the “growing cancel culture” in the U.K., adding that no one has a right not to be offended.
Despite those claims, causing “gross offenses” is a criminal act in the U.K. and has caused the prosecution of performers, comedians, and ordinary citizens.