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

Jan 10, 2021

CAIRO — Paksitani authorities banned Jan. 5 the discharge of the controversial British movie “The Woman 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. Much like the Pakistani response, a lot 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 UK to cease exhibiting it worldwide.

The movie sparked controversy as a result 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 reviews criticizing the movie, Fb consumer Ahmad Allam wrote, “They don’t respect our religion or our sanctities, and once we get offended [and defend] our faith and our Messenger, they are saying we’re terrorists.” Omar Hindawi wrote, “This movie needs to be instantly 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 concerning the prohibition of the embodiment of the Prophet Muhammad, all prophets and the relations 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 potentialities of banning the movie in Egypt or launching any media campaigns to forestall it from exhibiting in Egypt or overseas, Al-Monitor talked to a supply within the Al-Azhar Sheikhdom. “Al-Azhar just isn’t an authority that may ban or allow a movie,” the supply stated on situation of anonymity. “It merely expresses the Sharia opinion concerning the prohibition of embodying the prophet and his relations. Al-Azhar leaders will not be involved with efforts to ban the movie overseas and has nothing to do with the delay in its launch.”

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. However 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 Tradition advised Al-Monitor on situation of anonymity that the Authority for Censorship of Inventive Works affiliated with the ministry is the authority competent to ban or permit the screening of a movie when its distributors apply for a request for its launch in Egypt. The supply defined that the authority can’t resolve to ban a movie earlier than watching it, including that the opinion of Al-Azhar and spiritual establishments on the embodiment of the prophet shall be taken under consideration along with the opinions of students, if the movie falsely depicts or distorts established historic info.

The Authority for Censorship of Inventive Works had banned the screening of “The Ardour 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.

A number of Egyptian newspapers, notably Soutalomma and Al-Wafd, accused in press reviews 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 reveals 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.

However 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. “In the end everybody will be capable of watch it when it turns into accessible on the web. It’s higher to permit its screening whereas holding, in tandem, historic and spiritual discussions to unveil its fallacies if it really tells a traditionally questionable story.” 

The movie’s occasions happen in two completely different instances separated by almost 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 dwell together 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 College shares Shinnawi’s opinion. “Any severe dialogue concerning the movie would reveal the weak spot of the Shiite narrative that contradicts the pleasant relationship that Imam Ali had with the Rightly Guided Caliphs who preceded him, even after Zahra’s dying. Imam Ali agreed to marry his daughter, Umm Kulthum, to Omar bin Al-Khattab and really useful him [bin Al-Khattab] as his successor.”

He added, “How can bin Khattab be one in all Zahra’s killers, whereas he was on good phrases with Imam Ali, her husband, after her dying.”

Regardless of 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 help 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, advised 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 movie is proven, Al-Azhar shall be pressured to refute the Shiite historic allegations. Al-Azhar has all the time tried to disregard these allegations in order to not worsen the division between Sunnis and Shiites,” Abdel Halim stated. “It will abort the sheikhdom’s makes an attempt for many years to realize rapprochement and deal with what unites Sunnis and Shiites as an alternative of specializing in factors of competition, together with the historic allegations about Zahra.”

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