The Lady of Heaven: Sheffield Cineworld cinema cancels screenings of controversial film following protest
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The Lady of Heaven tells story of Lady Fatima, Prophet Muhammad's daughter, and it is intertwined with that of a young Iraqi orphan in the present day.
It is now being screened nationwide following its release on June 3 via major cinema chains including Vue, Cineworld, and Showcase.
However, the Muslim community, including those in Sheffield, have expressed anger over the release of the film, which they say 'disrespects' the prophet by putting his ‘face’ on screen.
They also claimed that it is a ‘deeply racist film’, with all of the main negative characters played by black actors and the prophet's companions portrayed in a ‘bad manner.’
On June 4, protesters gathered in front of Sheffield Cineworld to demand that the screening be cancelled. In a YouTube video posted on Monday, a cinema spokesperson can be heard announcing the film's withdrawal in response to the protest.
He said: "Our customers are at the heart of this community. At a local level, it wasn't our decision to show this film; it came from above. We totally agree with what you're saying. We are not prepared at this cinema to show this film. "
Similar protests took place in Bolton, Bradford
Sheffield's protest was not the only one that took place. At least two other Cineworld branches in Bolton and Bradford pulled the film following protests.
The independent film has also been banned in countries with a Shia majority, including Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt.
Additionally, an online petition demanding the complete removal of the film from all cinemas has been launched. It has received more than 117,000 signatures thus far.
A senior editor for Muslim-generated news site 5 Pillars has been another vocal critic of the film after having watched it.
He said: "Lady of Heaven is two hours plus of the most extreme Shia sectarian narratives about how the caliphate was supposedly "usurped" by the Ahl ul Bayt (family of the prophet).
"And most Muslims will find the invective against three of the most beloved companions of the Prophet Muhammad shocking and disgusting."
For the vast majority of Muslims, depicting Muhammad or any of the other prophets of Islam is strictly forbidden.
Cineworld cancels all screenings nationwide
The protests have also sparked an online discussion, with differing opinions.
One said: “The film must be shown, and no one has the right to prevent us from watching what we want.”
Another added: “I watched the movie of the Lady of Heaven and the message of it is nothing but love, peace and mercy. You should watch it before you judge it.”
But one person disagreed, saying: “This film was made by insensitive producers and directors who just want to cause heartache to all Muslims worldwide. Shame on them.”
Another wrote: “All faiths should be respected!”
In a statement, Cineworld has confirmed that the screenings of the film have been cancelled nationwide.
A spokesperson from Cineworld said: "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."