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Why is The Lady of Heaven so controversial?

The Lady of Heaven has been at the centre of controversy recently.

A new film titled The Lady of Heaven has been the centre of controversy the last few days after the film attracted protests across the country and a petition which received over 120,000 signatures.

The movie which premiered on June 3 in the UK has been described as 'racist' and 'blasphemous' leading to some cinemas pulling it from the big screen for the safety of staff due to large protests.

It depicts the story of Lady Fatima, one of the daughters of the Prophet Muhammad whilst describing her as "the first victim of terrorism" in the plot summary.

Due to differing schools in the religion having contrasting views on the story, the clash has come from Sunni Muslims who believe it is an inaccurate representation, compared to the writer, Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Yasser al-Habib.

With the film also portraying the Prophet Muhammad's companions, Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab, it has come under intense scrutiny.

It has always been very contentious to present prophets on screen however a large portion of the criticism has come from the way the figures from early Sunni Islam have been implied in the film to have similarities between their actions and those of Islamic state group in Iraq.

Prominent protests have featured in East London, Bolton, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham and Sheffield and the executive producer has received death threats since its release.

A video that went viral on social media that shows protestors chanting includes someone saying the film insults the BAME community:

"It has also insulted black people. How have they insulted the BAME community?

"They have shown portrayed black people as filthy criminals and this film will be shown in Vue cinema. We want this film to be taken down immediately."

A statement was made by The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and said:

"The MCB, which proudly represents affiliates from across the different schools of thought in our faith, supports those scholars and leaders who are advocating for greater unity and for the common good.

"There are some – including many of this film’s supporters or those engaging in sectarianism in their response – whose primary goal is to fuel hatred."

With the film now taken down at most cinemas, there have been discussions over cancel culture and freedom of speech.

As a result a counter petition has been made which is signed by around 4000 people, stating that "taking it down due to online mobs and bullies is not befitting of a free and progressive country such as the UK".

In a statement from Vue Cinemas, who have showed and are still currently in some areas, including west London, have said:

"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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