Cineworld Pull Film on Life of Prophet’s Daughter Fatima Due to Intimidating Protests from Sectarian Sunnis

I feel I have to comment on this story now going the rounds on the right-wing satellite news shows like GB News and the Murdoch-owned Talk TV, if only to provide some perspective on it. They’ve been discussing Cineworld’s decision to remove a British-made film, in which a young Muslim girl learns about the life of Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima. The film’s directed by Eli King, and was written by a Muslim clergyman, and its executive producer, Malik Shlibak, appeared on GB News talking to Nigel Farage to defend the movie. There were mass protests outside cinemas in Bolton and Birmingham, which led to the cinema chain removing the movie, first from those towns and now across the country. They stated that they were afraid that if they did not do, they could not guarantee the security of their staff.

One of the accusations against the film is that it is blasphemous, because it shows Mohammed’s face. This is frequently omitted in Islamic art, it has to be said. There’s either an oval hole left for the face, or else the face of Mohammed and other leading members of the early Muslim community are hidden behind veils. Shlibak explained to the Fuhrage that Habib, the Islamic scholar who wrote the film, was a highly respected clergyman with a following around the world. They were also very careful to base it on the historical sources. As for blasphemy in portraying the Prophet’s face, Shlibak stated that this wasn’t true, as there is a variety of attitudes towards the portrayal of Mohammed across the Muslim world.

The real issue, it appears, is sectarian. The protesters were all Sunnis, the orthodox branch of Islam, who objected to the film because it was from the Shia perspective. Fatima was married to Ali, whom the Shias revere as the first Imam and the true successor to Mohammed as the leader of the nascent Muslim community. However, he was passed over in favour of three members of the Meccan aristocracy, who had converted to Islam. Ali’s sons, Hassan and Hussein, attempted to seize power but were defeated in battle by the forces of the Caliph Muawiya. They were killed, their forces routed and the women of Ali’s family captured. Shia Muslims commemorate this event annually with processions and a passion play, in which they carry models of the Hassan and Hussein’s mausoleums.

Apart from Shlibak, the Fuhrage also talked to a Muslim who supported the protests. He denied that the film was being accused of blasphemy, because blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam. The protests were instead against it because it caused sectarian tensions. Now the statement that blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam is pure taqiyya, a lie to defend the faith. Technically what he said is correct – it doesn’t have quite the same concept, but has a similar idea. This is ‘insulting Islam’. There have been mob lynchings and murders of people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. The Pakistani legal code also considers it a crime, and there are 200 people on death row in the country on blasphemy charges. When the man defending the protests repeatedly refused to answer Nige’s questions about blasphemy, Nige ended the interview ‘in the interests of free speech’.

I found an other video today in which the protests were being discussed by Leo Kearse, a Conservative comedian, who has appeared with Sargon of Gasbag’s Lotus Eaters, and another man, whom I didn’t recognise. It seems that the protesters were also recorded chanting ‘Allahu akbar’ and ‘Shia kaffir’, Shia unbelievers. Although unremarked by the three discussing the issue, this is particularly chilling. Muslims cannot enslave other Muslims under the explicit dictates of sharia law, although this was frequently violated. In the Middle Ages, however, a number of Sunni theologians and jurists ruled that the Shia were not Muslims, but unbelievers. They could thus be killed and their children enslaved. A few years ago the Grand Mufti of Mecca declared that the Shia were ‘heretics, worthy of death’, which is a call to genocide if ever I heard one. Kearse added that this was a problem of importing thousands, millions of people from other cultures that don’t share our values. He was corrected by the second panellist, who made the point that the people speaking were all born here. The problem was about parallel societies. This is a genuine problem. There have been articles in the press discussing the way White and ethnic minority communities are growing apart. There was one such in the left-wing political magazine, Prospect, a few years ago about one town in which Whites and Muslim lived in separate areas and had nothing to do with each other. The panellists stated that there wasn’t much in the way of British values on display. No, the protesters were following the traditional values of the Sunni Muslim world. They also made the point that it was similar to the teacher, who was hounded of his job at a school in Batley because he dared to show his class the French cartoons of Mohammed. This fellow and his family are still in hiding a year later. And it was for showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that the French teacher, Thomas Pattie, was murdered following similar protests.

Julia Harley-Brewer on Talk TV tried to put it into some kind of perspective by comparing it to Christian protests against Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And a few years before in the ’70s there were also protests against the horror film The Exorcist because of its portrayal of demonic possession. But as far as I know, these protests never included death threats, whether explicit or tacit, against those involved in the movie. The real parallels, and the source of the problem, are the protests in Bradford in the 1980s against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. This was intended as a critique of western racism, and the Mahound character, who was supposed to be a caricature of Mohammed, actually wasn’t at all. People I know who’ve read the book have said it’s not blasphemous. It is, however, incredibly boring. The book was denounced by the Ayatollah Khomeini as a cynical political ploy in order to gain some kind of moral leadership over the Muslim world against Saudi Arabia. In Britain there were mass protests, led in Bradford by Mohammed Akhthar, Kalim Saddiqui and other intolerant hardliners. Akhthar penned a pamphlet, Be Careful With Mohammed, which I had the misfortune to read when I was briefly trying to study Islam at postgraduate level. It’s a staunch defence of traditional Islam, which is held up as everything good and admirable as compared to western society and Christianity, which is everything inferior and wrong. And Akhthar makes very explicit the British Muslim community’s rejection of British culture and values ‘They came to Britain to work, not to become Englishmen’. These protests gave the Muslim radicals in Britain as sense of power, especially as Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for a decade or so. In 1991 or so Kalim Saddiqui was filmed in his mosque in a BBC documentary, The Trouble With Islam, telling his flock that British society was a vast killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to us. When asked about this, he bleated some nonsense about a forthcoming Muslim holocaust.

But to return to the death threats, these are not confined to the leaders of the mass protests. The Muslim evangelist Ali Dawah in one of his videos told one of the ex-Muslim atheist YouTubers that when Britain becomes an Islamic state, he’d be put to death. One of the ex-Muslim atheists, Harris Sultan, appealed for donations a little while ago to pay for protection after a British Muslim put a price on his head.

I feel very strongly that we have to start pushing back against these bigots. One of the criticisms levelled against the handling of these protests is that the police didn’t turn up. I’m not surprised. They were no doubt scared of being accused of racism and Islamophobia, which may have been blown up into mass demonstrations around the globe. But I also despise the way protests like these are being ignored and played down by our politicians. I well appreciate why. They’re afraid of stoking real hatred against ordinary Muslims, who have nothing to do with the protests and who may not share these views. When Akhthar and Saddqui were organising protests in Bradford, there were counter protests against them from liberal Muslims. One of my former college’s lecturers on Islam also went up, and quote the passage in the Quran which condemns religious intolerance. I think it was probably the verse that runs ‘There should be no compulsion in religion’.

And protests carrying real or implied death threats aren’t confined to Muslims. A year or so ago Kathleen Stock, a feminist scholar, was forced out of her job following mass protests by students. She was accused of transphobia because of her stated belief that transwomen aren’t women. The university first tried sacking her for bigotry, which she successfully challenged. But she went anyway because she no longer felt safe.

I think this all needs to be stopped now. People have the right to protest but not to the extent where others fear for their lives. I wonder if it’s time to demand legislation against protests where there is a reasonable fear of threats to life and limb, and to make sure it is properly enforced. And I realise that this is an attack on free speech and the right to protest, but I cannot see any other way of defending free speech against such mobs without it.

Here are the videos I’ve mentioned.

Farage talking to executive producer Malik Shlibak:

Leo Kearse and others discussing the protests.

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13 Responses to “Cineworld Pull Film on Life of Prophet’s Daughter Fatima Due to Intimidating Protests from Sectarian Sunnis”

  1. Mark Pattie Says:

    This is shocking stuff. When I heard about it, it did remind me of the reaction to Life of Brian about 40 years ago, although, like you said, I’m not aware of death threats being made against John Cleese at the time- unlike here. I believe our favourite right-wing Youtube “historian” has also put up a video about this horrific incident.

    • beastrabban Says:

      He did, Mark. I watched it and wasn’t impressed. He was angry at the imprisonment of a Nazi for belonging to a banned extreme rightist group while the police ignored the Sunni protests outside Cineworld. I’ve got no problem with Nazis going to jail. I think thee man in question was a member of National Action. While he may not have committed any terrorist offences personally, National Action is overtly Nazi, completely with the Fascist salutes, the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, a real desire to exterminate Jews once they’re in power. They’ve also given their members training on how to commit terrorist attacks. So no, I’ve no problem whatever with these scumbags going to chokey.

      • Mark Pattie Says:

        As for why Simon Webb is angry about a repulsive Nazi, who made Nazi salutes *in a concentration camp* being jailed- I wonder if it’s because he (History Debunked) now seems to be obsessed with promoting “Patriotic Alt*rnative” despite deploring those ragtag fascists’ gutter antisemitism?

      • beastrabban Says:

        An awful lot of his followers seem to be members of Patriotic Alternative, and have been urging him to join them. And some of them certainly seem to be genuine Nazis, who believe in the Great Replacement and rant in coded language about Jews as ‘the people in small hats’. One even signed himself ‘My Irrelevant Defence’, which was the title of a pamphlet written by a pre-War British anti-Semite after he was successfully prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.

      • Mark Pattie Says:

        Re Simon Webb’s “courting”, if you will, of that wretched Nazi “movement” with the initials of P.A., he is obsessed with using their language. One of his videos was titled: “The cabal of internationalists who control the British Government”. How no-one has accused him of anti-Semitism I do not know. Also, I wonder what his reaction would be if Nadhim Zahawi were to replace Johnson as PM- I do not think he would be very happy.

      • beastrabban Says:

        He definitely wouldn’t be happy if Nadhim Zahawi became PM, nor would he like Rishi Sunak to get the job. But I don’t think he’s an anti-Semite. He’s posted several videos attacking anti-Semitism and the stupid conspiracy theories about the Great Replacement. He has also lived and worked in Israel and supports the country. Which is why some of his commenters have accused him instead of being Jewish or of ignoring the Jewish conspiracy they see as behind non-White immigration.

  2. Brian Burden Says:

    Go back further than LOB and you get the hoo hah over Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. Rushie’s crime was depicting the Prophet in a work of fiction, and the poor chap had to go into hiding with police protection after Ayatollah Khomeni put a fatwa on him (at the instigation of a Brummie imam called Siddiqi).

    • beastrabban Says:

      So it was Kalim Saddiqui who suggested to the Ayatollah that Satanic Verses was blasphemous? That would add up.

  3. trev Says:

    Apparently the face of Prophet Muhammad is CGI and so not represented by any actual actor in an attempt to avoid causing offence, but from what I gather some are upset by the alleged misrepresentation of other historical characters in relation to how they have been portrayed.

  4. Jeffrey Davies Says:

    Crikey it shows how scared people’s in power are but we have British laws not Shira or how ever it’s spelt our MPs have left this fester they should say and demand that there can’t be any Shira law in a British society it’s only going to get worse and not allow others to demand threaten to get their way I’m sorry it’s beyond how they in power allow them to do threaten while they our glorious MPs fiddle

  5. Jim Round Says:

    Excellent piece.
    Protest is almost always hijacked by idiots, there was a good Twitter thread on how certain agitators hijacked the silent vigil for Sarah Everard, Anti Fascism demonstrations are often used by individuals and groups to cause trouble and who couldn’t care less about what the protests are all about.
    I remember when there was a high number of asylum applications in the early 2000’s, mainly due to the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, there was the usual disapproval from the usual suspects, but I do not remember the amount of vitriol we now have.
    Again I would put it down to not being able to have rational and factual debate, Talk Radio had someone on who explained to Julia Hartley-Brewer that it was not illegal to seek asylum, I very much doubt she will be invited back.
    As for the police not attending, maybe they could, but with a respectable Imam in attendance also, a sort of police/community liaison if you will.
    I can see things getting a lot worse before it gets any better, one thing is certain, we can’t carry on like this.

    • trev Says:

      “we can’t carry on like this”

      Hey, that could have been a film title that never got made — ‘Carry On Mohammed’, starring Bernard Breslaw blacked-up as the Prophet, and Babs Windsor as a giggling Fatima. Absolutely guaranteed to upset and offend all concerned!

      • Jim Round Says:

        Yes, it would.
        Funnily enough, certain groups and individuals were/are quite relaxed about Jesus in film being depicted by a white man (Max Von Sydow, Willem Dafoe, and Jim Cavieze), when Elizabeth Taylor played Cleopatra, Moses played by Charlton Heston and Christian Bale. (The possibility that Jesus and Moses never existed is a separate argument)
        More recently, Liam Neesom played Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, despite him being of Arabic descent in the comic books.
        Jake Gyllenhaal played a Persian in Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time.
        In World Trade Center, Marine Sargent Jason Thomas, an African American was played by William Mapother.
        There are many more, but you get the idea.

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