UK Theaters Pull a Shiite Film because Sunnis Deem It Heretical

Last week, the British company Cineworld announced that it would cease screening The Lady of Heaven, a movie written by a Kuwaiti Shiite cleric that tells the story of Mohammad’s daughter. The film sparked protests from Sunni Muslims, in whose eyes its plot is heretical. Stephen Daisley examines the implications of such successful sectarian censorship for the UK, and for the West more generally:

The mobs succeeded by deploying this heckler’s veto and appropriating the language of equality and human rights. [The British Muslim website] 5Pillars describes The Lady of Heaven as a “sectarian hate film.” A Bradford imam warned of its “creating hate towards our faith.” Protestors could be seen holding placards that read: “Cineworld promotes hate.” When the frame is religious censorship, liberals instinctively take the side of the artist over the enforcer of orthodoxy, but when the frame is “hate,” liberals go wobbly and wonder if the censors are the victims and the targets of their censorship the real bigots. Islamic reactionaries have become adept at turning our liberalism against us.

Liberals of stauncher stomach will brusquely dismiss the framing of “hate.” This is an assault on free speech and artistic expression, they will say. No one has the right not to be offended. Britain is a liberal country, and Muslims who object to artistic interpretations of Islamic history and teaching will just have to practice tolerance and respect pluralism. If you don’t like a film’s content, don’t go see it.

[But] progressives who are content for trans activists to get . . . speakers and books cancelled can hardly cavil when Sunni Muslims get a Sunni-critical film cancelled. Conservatives aren’t well-placed to dissent either. British mosques are 96-percent Sunni, and the interpretation of Islam contained in The Lady of Heaven is gravely immoral in Sunni orthodoxy. Didn’t the protesters do exactly what the post-liberal right counsels: prize cohesion over autonomy by discouraging vice? After all, what is the Islamic principle of hisbah—“enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong”—but a Quranic spin on common-good conservatism?

Liberalism may fit awkwardly with a multicultural society, but post-liberalism is incompatible. . . . At best, [the combination is] a recipe for resentment and sectarianism and, at worst, for a Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes. Imperfect liberalism stands a better chance of regulating multiculturalism because it has been doing so for some time.

Read more at The Critic

More about: Censorship, Liberalism, Multiculturalism, Shiites, Sunnis, United Kingdom

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy