Directed by Eli King and written by Shia cleric Sheikh Yasser al-Habib, The Lady of Heaven has become a topic of controversy. Released on June 3rd, the movie sparked numerous protests across the United Kingdom as many from the Muslim communities deemed it to be "blasphemous" and "spreading false information about Islam."
"Birmingham will not tolerate the disrespect of our prophet (pbuh). There will outcomes from your actions. You will have repercussions for your actions. We have been trained from birth that we must defend the honour of our prophet & we will lay our life on the line." #chilling pic.twitter.com/fnLP9T9JI3
— Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS) (@MAAS_UK) June 7, 2022
"Birmingham will not tolerate the disrespect of our prophet … we must defend the honor of our prophet & we will lay our life on the line”, stated a Muslim leader during one of the protests.
The film depicts the life and struggles of Lady Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad. According to the movie's synopsis, Lady Fatima is described as 'the first victim of terrorism.'
The film's narrative is from a pro-Shia perspective that can create a clash of beliefs between the two major sects of Islam.
A review by the Atheist Republic that discussed the Shia propaganda depicted in the film received a copyright strike on YouTube by the film's creators. The video was up again after responding to the false strike.
The various sects of Islam have different opinions, but most agree that the film should be banned. The Sunnis are outraged by what they believe is the 'incorrect' portrayal of the historical facts.
Before the protests started, eight Shia scholars in the UK had criticized the film, stating that it may worsen the sectarian tensions among Muslims.
MUST WATCH: British Muslim scholars issue a statement condemning divisive movie Lady Of Heaven, its writer Yasser Habib and sectarianism.
Shia, Sunni and Sufi all agree the film need to be BANNED. #TheLadyOfHeaven #LadyOfHeaven @jafferladak @RamadhanFoun @AMIOutreach pic.twitter.com/pnwfJwSjqb
— Robert Carter (@Bob_cart124) June 9, 2022
One of the biggest problems was the depiction of the Islamic prophet and his relatives in the film. The visual depiction of the prophet is said to be blasphemous for the Sunni. The film also received backlash for portraying revered figures of the Sunni caliphs, Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and Uthman Ibn Affan.
A Change.org petition called "Remove The Lady Of Heaven from UK Cinemas" was set up by the user, Muslims UK, which now has more than 126,000 signatures. The user says, "film has been created to cause heartache for all Muslims as well as spread false information on Islam."
The massive protests in Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham, and Sheffield made Cineworld, a prominent cinema chain in the UK, cancel all The Lady of Heaven screenings. The chain stated, "Due to recent incidents related to screenings of The Lady of Heaven, we have made the decision to cancel upcoming screenings of the film nationwide to ensure the safety of our staff and customers." Following in the steps of Cineworld, another chain, Showcase, has withdrawn the film from all its outlets.
Vue Cinemas is still screening the film, albeit the protests stating that 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.”
The film is also receiving severe backlash in most Muslim countries. The Supreme Ulema Council of Morocco condemned the film's contents and urged the Moroccan cinema authorities to ban the movie in the country. The film has also been banned in Pakistan, Egypt, and Iran.
A counter-petition was also created, demanding the film be returned to the screens.
Kenan Malik, a columnist from The Guardian, states," Film bans are less about offense, more 'community leaders' showing who's boss" "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 organizations to flex their muscles."
UK broadcaster and journalist Patrick Christys condemned the cancellation of the film Lady of Heaven and said 'enough is enough.'
'We need to stop worrying about offending a particularly hardline element of the Muslim community, put our foot down and say enough is enough.'
Patrick Christys condemns the cancellation of the film Lady of Heaven, after protesters across the UK called for it to be pulled. pic.twitter.com/IgBZTSCpGy
— GB News (@GBNEWS) June 10, 2022
Malik Shlibak, the film’s executive producer, revealed that he’d gotten death threats on Twitter. But he says the controversy has been “brilliant” in bringing huge audiences. “It’s nothing new because I’m involved in this type of work where these radicals want you to speak about anything they don’t agree with… I don’t worry about it; it’s just empty threats,” he added.