Sajid Javid attacks ‘cancel culture’ as UK cinemas release ‘blasphemous’ film | Movies
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he was ‘very concerned about the cancellation of culture in the UK’ after screenings of a ‘blasphemous’ film about the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter were pulled from cinemas .
On Tuesday, Cineworld pulled all showings of The Lady From Above “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.” Showcase cinemas too would have fired the film from its theaters (the channel did not respond to a request for comment).
It came after hundreds of protesters picketed theaters in Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford and Sheffield to show the film over the weekend. 5Pillars, a Muslim news site, tweeted a photo of what he said was “200 Muslims protesting sectarian hate film The Lady of Heaven” outside a Cineworld in Birmingham.
Speaking to TalkTV on Wednesday, Javid said: “I am very concerned about the growth of cancel culture in this country. There are people who think they have the right not to be offended and of course no one has that right.
“You may not like what someone has to say, but they have the right to say it.”
Javid said there were no blasphemy laws in the UK and warned it would be “an incredibly dangerous road to take”. He added: “What we have in this country is freedom of speech and expression, and that is a core value.”
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition to have The Lady from Above removed from UK cinemas. Bolton’s Council of Mosques called the film ‘blasphemous’ and bigoted, while the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella organization, called it ‘divisive’ “.
In a statement, the MCB said it “supports scholars and leaders who advocate for greater unity and for the common good.”
He added: “There are some – including many supporters of this film or those who engage in bigotry in their response – whose main purpose is to fuel hatred.”
The Lady of Heaven, directed by Eli King and written by Sheikh al-Habib, purports to tell the story of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.
It has been criticized by some groups for both its depiction of the prophet as well as the portrayal of revered early Sunni figures Islam. Other critics claim that negative characters were portrayed by black actors.
The film, which was banned in Egypt, Iran and Pakistan, received mixed reviews, with the Guardian awarding him two stars. The review of the 5 Pillars of the film was entitled: “Lady of Heaven: pure, pure sectarian filth”.
Its executive producer, Malik Shlibak, said on Wednesday that he had received “death threats” following the film.
“I don’t care – they’re just empty threats. But I’ve had threats on Twitter now, I’ve been called an ‘infidel’ and people said, ‘I’m going to kill you’ and all that kind of stuff,” he said.
“For the film, it was great. I was absolutely bombarded by every media outlet you can imagine. So the film reaches a huge, huge audience – more than it ever could.
Shlibak previously told the Guardian cinemas should “stand up and defend their right to show films that people want to see”.
Screenings of the film took place at several Vue cinemas in London and the south east of England on Wednesday. The company said it “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”.
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