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The Lady Of Heaven: Film about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter pulled by Cineworld following protests and ‘blasphemy’ criticism | Ents & Arts News

Cineworld has cancelled screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad which has led to protests outside some cinemas and been branded “blasphemous” by a Muslim council.

The cinema chain said it made the decision to remove The Lady Of Heaven, which was released on Friday, “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.

More than 120,000 people have signed an online petition describing the film as “racist” and calling for it to be removed from all UK cinemas, and protests have taken place in Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Bolton, Blackburn and Birmingham.

And in a letter to Cineworld shared on its social media sites, the Bolton Council Of Mosques said the film had caused “much distress to Muslims across the globe”.

However, a House of Lords peer has described the decision to remove the film as “disastrous” for the arts and “dangerous” for free speech, and critics of the decision have hit out at the film’s “censorship”.

Video has circulated online reportedly showing a member of staff at a Sheffield cinema telling protesters that a screening of the film had been cancelled at the weekend.

“The heart-wrenching journey of Lady Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad,” reads the synopsis for the film on its website.

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“Separated by 1,400 years, an Iraqi child, in the midst of a war-torn country, learns the importance and power of patience.”

A trailer for the film, posted in December 2020, has been viewed more than 3 million times on YouTube, but comments have been turned off.

In its letter about the film, the Bolton Council Of Mosques said: “It is underpinned with a sectarian ideology and is blasphemous in nature to the Muslim community.

“It grossly disrespects the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in many ways and is deeply disturbing to every Muslim.”

What have the cinema chains said?

A Cineworld spokesperson told Sky News: “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.”

Vue, another cinema chain, has also reportedly pulled some screenings, although the film is still listed at some venues.

A spokesperson for the chain said: “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.”

According to The Lady Of Heaven website, the film was also due to be shown at Showcase cinemas. Sky News has contacted Showcase for comment.

‘Not befitting of a free and progressive country’

In a tweet, Baroness Claire Fox said the decision to remove the film from cinemas was “disastrous for the arts, dangerous for free speech, a lesson to those who argue identity politics are no threat to democracy”.

And some 3,000 people have signed an online counter-petition calling for the film to be supported by UK Cinemas, arguing that “taking it down due to online mobs and bullies is not befitting of a free and progressive country such as the UK”.

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