The Lady of Heaven is a new historical epic, portraying the life of Fatima, a child of the Prophet Muhammad. Yasser Al-Habib, the Shia Muslim cleric who wrote the screenplay, claims the film ‘conveys a message of love and peace’.
Not all agree, it seems. Since the film’s release on Friday, groups of Muslim protesters across England have been protesting outside cinemas, claiming The Lady of Heaven hurts ‘the feelings and the sentiments of a billion people around the world’. Now, citing the protests, Cineworld has pulled the film from all of its cinemas nationwide, while Vue has pulled it from some of its branches. This is a shocking, illiberal and profoundly worrying development.
The protesters claim to be outraged, above all, by the fact that the film depicts Muhammad on screen (using computer-generated imagery rather than a single actor). This, they say, is ‘forbidden’ by Islamic law.