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Israeli-owned chain halts UK screenings of film about Prophet Muhammad’s daughter

Protesters rally outside Bolton and Birmingham locations of Cineworld after its June 3 showing prompts safety concerns, harsh criticism from Islamic organizations

Illustrative: Cineworld movie theater in London, October 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Illustrative: Cineworld movie theater in London, October 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Cineworld, a British movie theater chain headed by an Israeli, has pulled a controversial film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad from all of its locations after protests took place outside of theaters, a Wednesday report said.

The chain said the decision was “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers,” according to the BBC.

More than 120,000 people have signed a petition for the film, “The Lady of Heaven,” to be pulled from UK cinemas. Protests of up to 200 people were reported at the Bolton and Birmingham theater locations of Cineworld on Sunday.

The chain is headed by Israeli CEO Mooky Greidinger, who, along with his brother, Israel, owns 29 percent of the company.

The Bolton Council of Mosques in particular spoke out against the film, calling it “blasphemous” and saying it “misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history,” according to the report.

The film’s executive producer, Malik Shlibak, said he welcomed people expressing their views but said 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,” Shlibak told The Guardian.

The film, which premiered in the UK on June 3, tells the story of Lady Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Some critics argue that the very mention of the prophet is an insult to Islam.

The film’s website explains that holy figures were not represented by actors, but were rather portrayed as special effects and lighting techniques, as the representation of sacred figures is taboo in Islam.

However, the film has racked up heavy criticism in light of its plot and portrayals of sacred figures, particularly of Fatima and Aisha, Muhammad’s wife.

The UK-based Islamic media organization 5Pillars said the film was “two hours plus of the most extreme Shia sectarian narratives.”

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