A planned showing of American Sniper at the University of Maryland (UM) has been indefinitely postponed following complaints from a Muslim student group.
Originally, the school’s Student Entertainment Events (SEE) organization planned to show the Oscar-winning film on May 6 and 7, but decided to cancel after a protest petition was launched by the Muslim Student Association.
The anti-Sniper petition characterized the film as “war propaganda guised as art” that “reveals a not-so-discreet Islamaphobic, violent, and racist nationalist ideology.”
“A simple Google search will give you hundreds of articles that delve into how this film has fueled anti-Arab and anti-Islamic sentiments; its visceral “us verses them” narrative helps to proliferate the marginalization of multiple groups and communities – many of which exist here at UMD,” says the petition. Ironically, the petition encourages students to “exercise your freedom of speech” in calling for American Sniper to be suppressed.
In response to the petition (which closed with 318 signatures; UM has over 37,000 students), SEE has called off the film and says it will explore the possibility of showing it later by pairing it with more “constructive” activities.
“SEE is choosing to explore the proactive measures of working with others during the coming months to possibly create an event where students can engage in constructive and moderated dialogues about the controversial topics proposed in the film,” the cancellation announcement said.
Maryland is only the latest of many campuses to see a blow-up over American Sniper. The University of Michigan briefly canceled a planned showing two weeks ago until a widespread public outcry made the school reverse itself. Rensslaer Polytechnic Institute in New York delayed its showing, and there have also been complaints about the film at George Mason University in Virginia and the University of Texas at Arlington.
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