Editor's note: See the update at the bottom of the page.
The University of Michigan has canceled a screening of the best-picture nominated 'American Sniper' after demands by Muslim students that the film not be shown.
According to the Daily Caller, a group called Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim Students took issue with the film. According to them, Chris Kyle was a racist and watching the movie is 'unsafe' to Muslim students.
“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 Facebook page 'Center for Campus Involvement - University of Michigan' explained why the movie was canceled in a post.
When being called out over the decision, they replied, “Many students expressed concern over the content of the film and not feeling safe or welcome at UMix if we were to show this film there. We heard these concerns and in keeping with our program's mission to provide fun and engaging programming on Friday nights, we decided UMix is not the best venue for this film, nor is this the best time.”
This post has resulted in many negative comments criticizing the decision.
In place of American Sniper, Campus Involvement decided to show Paddington instead. It's a movie about a cute animated bear.
Earlier this year, Muslim students at the University of Missouri tried to get American Sniper banned for similar reasons. They, however, were unsuccessful.
UPDATE: The university has reversed its decision to not show American Sniper.
The change came shortly after the coach of the Michigan Football team tweeted, "Michigan Football will watch "American Sniper"! Proud of Chris Kyle & Proud to be an American & if that offends anybody then so be it!"
The school's Vice President for student life issued a statement saying the decision to cancel the film was a mistake.
"It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie “American Sniper” on campus as part of a social event for students.
The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.
The movie will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location.
We recognize, however, that some students are uncomfortable with the content of the movie, and appreciate that concern.
Therefore, the university also will show an alternative movie, “Paddington,” in another location on campus at that same time and date to provide our students with additional options that evening."
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