UK Theaters Pull a Shiite Film because Sunnis Deem It Heretical

June 14 2022

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.

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Read more at The Critic

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

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship