The Lady Of Heaven is a 2021 UK action drama by Eli King
Starring Ray Fearon, Denise Black and Christopher Sciueref
Cineworld cinemas have cancelled all screenings of a film about the daughter of the religious character
Muhammad after cinemas were picketed by Muslim activists.
The heart-wrenching journey of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the
religious character Muhammad. Separated by 1400 years, an Iraqi child, in the midst of a war-torn country, learns the importance and power of patience. After losing his mother, the child finds himself in a new home, where a loving grandmother narrates
the historical story of The Lady and how her suffering as the first victim of terror spun out of control into the 21st century.
Presumably fearing muslim violence, Cineworld said it took the decision to cancel all showings of The Lady of Heaven to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.
have cancelled some screenings but still seems to be showing the film in London on the south east. The issue is that the film provides a visual representation of Muhammad, albeit CGI created, rather than being played by an actor.
circulating online showed the manager of Sheffield Cineworld telling protesters that Sunday night's screening had been cancelled, to cries of Allahu Akbar (God is great). A screening in Bolton was cancelled after 100 protesters turned up at the local
Cineworld branch. The chair of the Bolton Council of Mosques had urged the cancellation of the screening, claiming the film was underpinned with a sectarian ideology and is blasphemous in nature to the Muslim community.
5Pillars, a Muslim news site,
tweeted a photo of what it said was 200 Muslims protesting against the film outside Cineworld in Broad Street, Birmingham on Sunday.
More than 117,000 people have signed a petition to try to get the film banned from all UK cinemas but in fact the
film has already been passed 15 uncut by the BBFC, the UK film censor. The film has also been rated R by the MPA for screenings in the US. Claire Fox, who sits in the House of Lords, tweeted that the decision to cancel the screening showed the
creep of extra-parliamentary blasphemy law was now censoring film. She wrote:
Same 'I Find that Offensive' cancel culture arguments now being used far beyond campus activism. Disastrous for the arts, dangerous for free
speech, a lesson to those who argue identity politics are no threat to democracy.
Malik Shlibak, executive producer of the film, told the Guardian cinemas should stand up and defend their right to show films that people want to see:
I think cinemas are crumbling to the pressure, and taking these decisions to quell the noise. The production company had received dozens of messages from people who were trying to book tickets to see the film but not
being able to.
This is an artistic endeavour talking about and elaborating on history and religion, which always has a plethora of different takes and interpretations. That's normal and healthy. We welcome this and we welcome
people to express themselves, whether they're for or against the film.
What we don't support, and what we vehemently stand against, is what they're trying to do, which is to censor others and dictate what we can and cannot watch
in UK cinemas.They have no right to do so and it's something very dangerous. The general population really need to be aware of this and stand up to this, because it is infringing and putting in danger their freedom of speech.
Offsite comment: The shameful censorship of The Lady of Heaven
See article from spiked-online.com
Update: The BBFC responds to religious bullying in a statement
12th June 2022. See article from bbfc.co.uk
We classify content in line with our published Classification Guidelines, which are the result of wide-scale consultations with thousands
of people from across the UK, extensive research, and more than 100 years of experience. They are updated every four to five years to ensure that our standards continue to reflect the expectations and values of people across the country.
We classified The Lady Of Heaven 15 for strong bloody violence, gory images, and threat. We provide content advice -- which we call 'ratings info' -- on our website and app for every film we classify, so that audiences can
decide for themselves whether a film will be suitable for them or their families. You can review the ratings info for The Lady Of Heaven
On occasion, we will consider some content unsuitable for classification, in line with the
objective of preventing non-trivial harm risks to potential viewers and, through their behaviour, to society. As an accountable and transparent organisation, this decision and the reasons for it will be communicated to the distributor and publicly.
However, there is nothing in The Lady Of Heaven that exceeds our Classification Guidelines at 15 or deems it unsuitable for
Filmmakers are free to explore historical or controversial themes and events within their films. The BBFC's role is to ensure the content is classified appropriately based on our guidelines, in order to protect
children and other vulnerable groups from potential harm and to empower consumers to make informed viewing decisions.
Update: The Government is also unimpressed by religious bullying and sacks an organiser of
12th June 2022. See article from bbfc.co.uk
An imam has been dismissed as a government adviser after backing calls for The Lady of Heaven to be banned. Qari Asim was removed from his role as an Islamophobia consultant after his role in organising protests against the film. Asim was said to have
advertised a protest in Leeds, with details of its timing and location.
Supporting the campaign to limit free expression precluded him from continuing, the government said. Asim, imam of the Makkah Masjid mosque in Leeds, was told his appointment as
deputy chair of the government's Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group had to end in a letter from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities. It said:
Your recent support for a campaign to limit free
expression - a campaign which has itself encouraged communal tensions - means it is no longer appropriate for you to continue your work with government in roles designed to promote community harmony.
He was told his actions were a
clear effort to restrict artistic expression and that the campaign had led to street protests which have fomented religious hatred. The government said that on Monday Asim had posted on Facebook:
We have been working
with many brothers and Imams across the country to liaise with the cinemas. Some Imams have taken a view to protest and others are in dialogue with the cinemas trying to resolve the situation.
The letter continued:
Resolving the situation, as you made clear, meant cancelling screenings. You wrote that in some places we have been successful and those cinemas will no longer be showing the movie.
We were disappointed to see
that you failed to condemn some of the protests complicit in these behaviours.
Offiste Comment: Film bans are less about offence, more community leaders showing who's boss
10th June 2022.
See article from theguardian.com by Kenan Malik
Debates about the giving of offence are rarely about offence. They are mostly about gatekeeping: that is, debates over who has the right to police communities and determine what can be said about a community and by a community.
The Lady of Heaven has already had a five-week run in the US without protest. In Britain, however, the film was seen as an opportunity for certain leaders and organisations to flex their muscles. Much of the campaign for its banning has been organised by the Muslim news website 5Pillars, its editor Roshan Muhammed Salih describing the film as shocking and disgusting and as pure, unadulterated, sectarian filth. Salih has long been a propagandist for both the Iranian regime (he was head of news for Press TV, Tehran's English language broadcast service) and the Taliban.
See full article from theguardian.com by Kenan Malik
Update: Muslim Action Forum calls on the BBFC to ban the Lady of Heaven
17th June 2022. See
article. From 5pillarsuk.com The Muslim Action Forum is a collective campaign group.
It has called on muslims to boycott cinema chains that have shown The Lady of Heaven and has witten a letter to the BBFC calling for a ban of the film. The letter to the BBFC reads:
We write to you regarding the film Lady of Heaven directed by Eli King, that was released in Britain on 3rd June 2022 in Vue Cinemas, Cineworld and Showcase. It has been written by Yasir Al-Habib who is a prominent,
extreme Shi'a cleric denounced by Muslims of all denominations including Shia. He was imprisoned in Kuwait for his hate speech, and also deported out of Iran -- denounced by them as a mad man and an illiterate fool.
The film is
blasphemous, historically inaccurate, and blatantly anti-Muslim, designed to cause outrage and hatred between communities, especially between Shias and Sunnis. It has been a financial flop in the USA and in the UK as audiences have realised that it is
nothing but a cheap money-making exercise at the expense of others. This is akin to showing a sectarian film about the issues in Northern Ireland where the leaders of one side are depicted as inherently evil along with their families. On this occasion
the beliefs of over two billion Muslims have been deeply offended. Showcase Cinemas. Editorial credit: Amani A / Shutterstock.com
The Public Order Act 1986, quoted in your guidelines, makes it illegal to show abusive and insulting
images designed to stir up racial or religious hatred. This film has been designed to create just that result. We already know after the Satanic Verses and Charlie Hebdo experiences, that it is deeply offensive to the two billion Muslims in this world to
depict the image of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is respected and revered by each and every one of us. The film offends us as it not only depicts our beloved Prophet but also portrays members of his blessed household. Whilst these
noble people dedicated their whole lives in helping the sick and needy, the film depicts some of them as evil and as terrorists.
This film has been withdrawn from most cinemas after Muslims demonstrated their opposition to it and
were prepared to continue to peacefully demonstrate until the film was withdrawn. We are now calling upon British Muslims to boycott all the guilty cinema chains.
The BBFC should not have given licence in the first instance, and
we request to review your decision in regards this film. We are happy to assist you in any way possible in this regard, if required.
On behalf of Muslim Action Forum