Cineworld cancels screenings of 'blasphemous' The Lady of Heaven film after protests

Protesters outside Cineworld in Birmingham in a picture taken by 5Pillars, a Muslim news site. Credit: 5Pillars

Protestors against the screening of a "blasphemous" film that claims to tell the true story of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammed have led to a major cinema chain pulling its showings.

Cineworld said on Tuesday that it was cancelling all screenings of The Lady of Heaven after demonstrations outside the chain's venues in Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford and Sheffield.

"Due to recent incidents related to screenings of The Lady of Heaven, we have made the decision to cancel upcoming screenings of the film nationwide to ensure the safety of our staff and customers," Cineworld said in a statement.

The Lady of Heaven, described by those behind it as a story separated by 1,400 years, has angered some Muslims for its depiction of Islam's prophet. They also argue the film inaccurately depicts early Islamic history.

In Islam it is considered an insult to try and depict the Prophet Muhammed.

The poster for Lady of Heaven.

The film weaves together alleged events in the life of Muhammed's daughter, Lady Fatima, with the tale of a young Iraqi orphan in the present day.

Videos on social media show protesters outside Cineworld in Bradford. A man with a megaphone shouts: "We are very offended, as you can see. We are very insulted. We have a right not to be insulted."

Earlier this week, protesters gathered in front of Sheffield Cineworld to demand that the screening be cancelled.

A YouTube video appears to show a cinema spokesperson announcing the film would be pulled as a result.

Unscripted - Listen to our arts and entertainment podcast

An online petition was launched to ban the "totally offensive and racist" film.

The film, written by, Kuwait-born Yasser al-Habib has already been banned in Egypt, Pakistan and Shia-majority Iran, where clerics have issued a fatwa against anyone who watches it.

5Pillars, an Islamic Media organisation from the UK, said the film was: "Two hours plus of the most extreme Shia sectarian narratives about how the caliphate was supposedly 'usurped' from the Ahl ul Bayt [holy family]. And most Muslims will find the invective against three of the most beloved companions [Abu Bakr As-Sadiq, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Uthman Ibn Affan] of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) shocking and disgusting".