The University of Michigan has canceled a screening of the blockbuster movie “American Sniper” because student protesters claim the film “sympathizes with a mass killer.”
The movie, which was nominated for several Oscars including Best Picture, tells the life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his struggles in Iraq and back at home.
But to a group of students under the banner “Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim Students,” the movie is nothing more than racist.
Anti-Muslim and anti-MENA hate crimes are growing increasingly common. These incidents create an unsafe space that does not allow for positive dialogue and triggers U of M students. Examples like the recent Chapel Hill shooting, which took the lives of three Arab American Muslim students, Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha, contribute to this lack of safety and space for Muslim and/or MENA students. Deah’s sister, Dr. Suzanne Barakat, has publicly stated how American Sniper has contributed to a culture of Islamophobia in America. Although we respect the right to freedom of speech, we believe that with this right comes responsibility: responsibility of action, intention, and outcome.
The movie American Sniper not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer. Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians. Middle Eastern characters in the film are not lent an ounce of humanity and watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world values their lives. What we instead should offer is compassion and respect towards others.
The shooting in Chapel Hill they cite is a reference to the murders of Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Muslims shot by atheist Craig Stephen Hicks. Hicks is currently facing the death penalty and the shooting is believed to have been over a parking dispute, not religion or race.
In place of “American Sniper,” the University of Michigan will show “Paddington,” a kids movie about an animated bear.
@Mashon45 Paddington will be shown instead.
— Campus Involvement (@UMInvolvement) April 7, 2015