Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Islamic students, activists name for ban on British movie about prophet’s daughter

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Jan 10, 2021

CAIRO — Paksitani authorities banned Jan. 5 the discharge of the controversial British movie “The Lady of Heaven.” They urged social media platforms to take away the trailer of the movie.

The Pakistani ban has raised controversy in Egypt about this movie. Similar to the Pakistani response, a variety of social media activists, Al-Azhar students and sheikhs of the Salafist currents referred to as for banning the screening of the movie. They urged the issuance of fatwas prohibiting its viewing and despatched official calls for to the United Kingdom to cease exhibiting it worldwide.

The movie sparked controversy on account of its portrayal of the character of Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and spouse of Ali bin Abi Talib, the fourth and final of the rightly guided caliphs following the dying of the prophet. On Jan. 2, a number of Egyptian and worldwide newspapers reported that the movie options the voice of the Prophet Muhammad as one of many storytellers of the movie’s occasions.

Commenting on one of many information experiences criticizing the movie, Facebook person Ahmad Allam wrote, “They do not respect our faith or our sanctities, and when we get angry [and defend] our religion and our Messenger, they say we are terrorists.” Omar Hindawi wrote, “This film should be immediately banned,” whereas Mona Mahmoud questioned about Al-Azhar’s place on “this humiliation?”

Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s highest non secular authority, issued a press assertion Dec. 27 via its adviser Mohammed Mehanna, confirming the steadfastness of Al-Azhar’s place relating to the prohibition of the embodiment of the Prophet Muhammad, all prophets and the members of the family of the prophet (wives, daughters and sons). The assertion asserted that the discharge of this movie consecrates the continued disrespect by the West and a few Shiite extremists for the sanctities and beliefs of others. 

Al-Azhar, nevertheless, didn’t announce any measures to attempt to ban the screening of the movie, as demanded by social media activists.

Inquiring concerning the prospects of banning the movie in Egypt or launching any media campaigns to stop it from exhibiting in Egypt or overseas, Al-Monitor talked to a supply within the Al-Azhar Sheikhdom. “Al-Azhar is not an authority that can ban or permit a film,” the supply stated on situation of anonymity. “It simply expresses the Sharia opinion regarding the prohibition of embodying the prophet and his family members. Al-Azhar leaders are not concerned with efforts to ban the film abroad and has nothing to do with the delay in its release.”

The movie, directed by Elli King and written by Sheikh Yasser Al-Habib, was to be launched in theaters Dec. 30, earlier than it was postponed till 2021. No new date was scheduled for its launch and the explanations for its postponement haven’t been disclosed. But some newspapers reckoned the delay got here in gentle of the sharp criticism the movie generated or due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A supply from the Ministry of Culture informed Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that the Authority for Censorship of Artistic Works affiliated with the ministry is the authority competent to ban or enable the screening of a movie when its distributors apply for a request for its launch in Egypt. The supply defined that the authority can not resolve to ban a movie earlier than watching it, including that the opinion of Al-Azhar and non secular establishments on the embodiment of the prophet might be taken under consideration along with the opinions of students, if the movie falsely depicts or distorts established historic details.

The Authority for Censorship of Artistic Works had banned the screening of “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004, and “Noah” and “The Exodus; Gods and Kings” in 2014, as a result of they painting the characters of the prophets.

Several Egyptian newspapers, notably Soutalomma and Al-Wafd, accused in press experiences Dec. 31 the movie and its producers of Shiism and bias towards false tales about Zahra’s dying. They stated that the teaser of the movie exhibits she was subjected to torture and bodily assault inflicting her to have an abortion and to die by the hands of the Rightly Guided Caliphs who preceded Ali, particularly Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Omar bin Al-Khattab and Othman bin Affan.

But famend movie critic and author of Arab cinema Tarek el-Shinnawy believes banning the movie will create pointless momentum and buzz which will encourage Egyptians to look at it out of curiosity. “Sooner or later everyone will be able to watch it when it becomes available on the internet. It is better to allow its screening while holding, in tandem, historical and religious discussions to unveil its fallacies if it truly tells a historically questionable story.” 

The movie’s occasions happen in two totally different instances separated by nearly 1,400 years. It tells the story of an Iraqi baby who misplaced his mother and father and was displaced by an armed Islamic State assault. The boy then strikes to reside along with his grandmother, who tells him the story of Zahra, the primary sufferer of terrorism in historical past from the Shiite perspective. The movie then recounts the story of Zahra. 

Mohsen Qandil, a professor of Islamic historical past at Cairo University shares Shinnawi’s opinion. “Any serious discussion about the film would reveal the weakness of the Shiite narrative that contradicts the friendly relationship that Imam Ali had with the Rightly Guided Caliphs who preceded him, even after Zahra’s death. Imam Ali agreed to marry his daughter, Umm Kulthum, to Omar bin Al-Khattab and recommended him [bin Al-Khattab] as his successor.”

He added, “How can bin Khattab be one of Zahra’s killers, while he was on good terms with Imam Ali, her husband, after her death.”

Despite the movie being accused of Shiism and selling false or weak historic narratives, Iranian web sites Ijtihad and Al-Alam reported that 4 Shiite non secular authorities — Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygan, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, Ayatollah Hossein Noori-Hamedani and Ayatollah Jaafar Subhani — labeled as haram any assist or promotion for the movie. The fatwas banned viewing it because it deepens the disagreement within the Islamic nation between Sunnis and Shiites. The Shiite authorities argued that fanning the flames of the inter-Muslim dispute is within the curiosity of these they described because the “enemies of Islam.”

Mohamed Abdel Halim, an Egyptian journalist specializing in non secular affairs on the London-based information web site Daqaeq, informed Al-Monitor that exhibiting the movie right now whereas Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are witnessing divisions between Sunnis and Shiites will exacerbate present variations.

“In case this film is shown, Al-Azhar will be forced to refute the Shiite historical allegations. Al-Azhar has always tried to ignore these allegations so as not to worsen the division between Sunnis and Shiites,” Abdel Halim stated. “This will abort the sheikhdom’s attempts for decades to achieve rapprochement and focus on what unites Sunnis and Shiites instead of focusing on points of contention, including the historical allegations about Zahra.”

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