lady heaven

'And let's keep it untold!' *walls off cinema*


DLA Piper legal director has been sacked as a government advisor this week after he supported calls to ban a film about Mohammed's daughter.

Qari Asim was removed from his role as an Islamophobia consultant after heated protests against the film The Lady of Heaven, which has been accused of drawing similarities between the actions of prominent figures revered by Sunni Muslims and those of IS terrorists. The protests led to Cineworld cancelling all showings of the film "to ensure the safety of our staff and customers" on Wednesday.

In a letter from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, Asim was informed that, "Your recent support for a campaign to limit free expression - a campaign which has itself encouraged communal tensions - means it is no longer appropriate for you to continue your work with government in roles designed to promote community harmony."

"You will have no doubt seen reports of the scenes outside different cinema venues. These included deeply disturbing videos of sectarian chanting and anti-Shia hatred", it said. "As you know, anti-Shia hatred is a long-standing and very serious issue, which must be challenged at every opportunity as part of a wider effort to combat anti-Muslim hatred."

The letter alleged that Asim, who was appointed MBE in 2012 for building "community harmony" in Leeds, used Facebook to help promote a protest, and that he posted on the platform, "We have been working with many brothers and Imams across the country to liaise with the cinemas...in some places we have been successful and those cinemas will no longer be showing the movie".

Asim had been serving as the deputy chair of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, but the government said his "clear involvement in a campaign to limit free expression is incompatible with the role of a government adviser".

A spokesperson for DLA Piper told RollOnFriday, “Qari is a highly regarded member of the Muslim community who has long been known for being a positive force for reconciliation and dialogue between communities and faiths. Of course, it goes without saying that the firm does not condone Islamophobia in any form and respects that the boundaries of lawful freedom of expression and speech include the views of all of our communities.”

Asim, who is imam of the Makkah Masjid mosque in Leeds, said he was not sent a copy of the letter before it was published by the government on its website. In a response addressed to Michael Gove which he posted on Twitter, Asim said "I did not personally attend or organise any protests", and added that he was "fully supportive of open public dialogue and scholarly debate around historical narratives between Sunni and Shia perspectives that does not fuel hatred or division in communities".

However, he said he was concerned the film "risked fuelling extremism and tension in communities that would undermine cohesion in British society", and said, "I am of the firm opinion that the challenge to and critique of the 'Lady of Heaven' film is part of free speech, though violence and intimidation never can be".

Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 17 June 22 08:57

Qari Asim is very level headed, making his points in a calm and reasoned manner. 

Our politicians frequently do behave rashly and are often informed by a need to signal support for a particular interest group. 

Therefore I suspect this was always going to happen. As it was, it happened the week the Government attempted to fly mainly Muslim asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Gobblepig 17 June 22 09:15

"I am of the firm opinion that the challenge to and critique of the 'Lady of Heaven' film is part of free speech, though violence and intimidation never can be." I wonder if he is of the firm opinion that the film itself is also "part of free speech".

Anonymous 17 June 22 09:24

I would strongly encourage everyone to read the full response from Qari: https://twitter.com/QariAsim/status/1536086208887111682 

Whether or not you agree with his call for cinemas not to screen this film, this is someone who has worked tirelessly for his entire adult life to promote community cohesion and inter-faith dialogue (alongside holding down a full time job as a lawyer at an international law firm).  He has the full respect and support of his colleagues, who know what a decent and honourable man he is (adjectives I would not apply to the man who fired him from his government advisory role, and who did so by publishing a letter online without having the courtesy to contact Qari directly before doing so). 

Gobblepig 17 June 22 09:47

Goodness. I wonder whether Qari is also someone who tirelessly posts comments on articles about himself on RollonFriday. 

Jonny 17 June 22 10:17

This is not about 'free speech'!

Surely, you accept the concept does not exist in sophisticated society were we are constantly bombarded with the subtle and not so subtle contextualised views of the powerful view.  If you believe otherwise you are naive.

This is just another (not so subtle) example of the governments concerted strategy of controlling the narrative in its war on culture. 

Apply any other narrative is simply an attempt to disguise the truth.

What happened to living in society where we respect the values of all creeds and culture.  This government is focused on sowing seeds of disharmony and distraction from the real issues - "divide and continue to [email protected]"£ up at every turn" 

Anon 17 June 22 10:23

Isn't the point that freedom of expression applies to everyone? Yes, you have the right to tell your story. And you also have the right to protest the telling of that story. You also have the right to protest people protesting the story as well. If you're that exorcised about it, go for your life and protest those protesting those protesting...

Anonymous 17 June 22 11:27

@ 10:23 - paging Tommy Robinson to the thread.

Turns out that you and the EDL are actually a vital part of free speech, so please join us.

This chap has just opened my eyes to the brilliant idea that Free Speech in a tolerant democracy is all about who can organize the largest, loudest, burliest mob of people to command the entryway to whatever venue it is that happens to be showing material that someone finds objectionable.

Protest the protest the protest the prot...

ShootyOriginal 17 June 22 11:34

Anyone getting 'exorcised' about it is clearly just getting into the spirit of things.

...

I'll get my coat.

BananasInPyjamas 17 June 22 12:33

I suppose looking at free speech from the point of view of John Stuart Mill's Harm Principle, if X says something, then Y should be able to assert that that statement ought to be restricted if Y can demonstrate that it results in harm, rather than being merely offensive. In that case, I dont think it makes sense to criticise Y merely for speaking up. However, if Y can't demonstrate harm resulting from X's statement then X's statement ought not to be restricted. 

Surf 'n' TERF 17 June 22 14:08

However, he [Qari Asim] said he was concerned the film "risked fuelling extremism and tension in communities that would undermine cohesion in British society"... this sounds like blackmail to me. 'Stop showing things we don't like, otherwise we will protest violently and cause trouble'.

And why did DLA mention Islamophobia in their statement to ROF ("Of course, it goes without saying that the firm does not condone Islamophobia in any form and respects that the boundaries of lawful freedom of expression and speech include the views of all of our communities.”)?

The letter from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities says:

"You will have no doubt seen reports of the scenes outside different cinema venues. These included deeply disturbing videos of sectarian chanting and anti-Shia hatred", it said. "As you know, anti-Shia hatred is a long-standing and very serious issue, which must be challenged at every opportunity as part of a wider effort to combat anti-Muslim hatred." 

Where is the Islamophobia here DLA? Are only Shi'ites allowed to be Muslim?

Meanwhile 17 June 22 15:46

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/14/united-arab-emirates-bans-new-buzz-lightyear-movie-from-theaters-.html 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-61813390

E Powell 18 June 22 10:36

Have any of these protesters seen the film? If they don't like it, they are welcome to leave the UK and live in a country that supports their censorship.

Panahy 19 June 22 00:39

The government’s decision is fair. We shouldn’t tolerate any suggestion made by foreigners/BAME that would curtail our freedom of speech. 

Uncle Adolfo 21 June 22 10:02

Does making anti-Semitic comments fall under freedom of expression? Just asking 

Lydia 22 June 22 22:28

What is so weak about Islam that means it cannot cope with free expression? Does it just dissolve if someone says something about it it does not like? Why can't its members just live and let live?

 

I don't call for mosques to cease preaching Islam's pretty dreadful views about women. I just let the 2m UK muslims state those things in which they believe.

What is so special about islam and this lawyer chap that it feels the need to stop others having different views? Why does it have to be my way or the high way?

Anonymous 24 June 22 08:17

Religion is a millstone around the neck of humanity. The more zealots, the bigger the millstone 

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