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Controversy around the film: Lady of Heaven

Jun 09, 2022

By Annisa Essack

Almost 15 months ago, the trailer for the British-made epic, Lady of Heaven, was released. The reviews were mixed, but the Muslim world was outraged. While claiming, as per the title, to be about Muhammad’s daughter Fatimah, (PBUT) the film instead focuses mostly on his cousin and successor Ali (RA). Director Eli King and writer Yassir al-Habib attempt to give the Islam origin story a contemporary parallel. But for Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, the film is viewed as blasphemous and sectarian.

Roshan Muhammed Salih, the editor of the 5Pillars website and a journalist with 21 years of experience under his belt has been keeping a close eye on the protests that have followed after the film was slated to be shown at cinemas in the UK, spoke to Radio Islam International.

According to Salih, the crux of the film is to attack Aisha (RA) and the first two caliphs, Abubakar (RA) and Umar (RA). He further explained that the film presented a very Shia, sectarian narrative.

Grassroots movement across major UK cities in the north organised protests outside cinemas to stop them from flighting the film. Some movie house chains agreed that they did not want to place their staff at risk.

Salih says that theatres didn’t do any prior research on the film and the impact it would have on the Muslim community. Nor did they expect the backlash from the Muslim community, Sunni and Shia alike.

Regarding media coverage of the film, Salih said that they were slow in picking up the story and would most probably demonise the protests and protestors.

The protests may cause more people to take note of the film, but the awareness could also have the opposite effect.

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