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

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy