Minister dismisses Islamophobia adviser to support protests in British films


A government adviser on Islamophobia, who urged Muslims to protest the film company to cancel the screening of the movie about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, said it encouraged “community tensions” and “restrictions on free expression.” I was fired by Michael Gove.

On Friday, the British government’s independent adviser on Islamophobia, Imam Kali Asim, was reported to have supported a protest pulling the movie “Women in Heaven” accused of “blasphemy.”

Cineworld, the owner of Vue Cinemas, told The Epoch Times on June 7 that it had stopped showing the movie nationwide to “keep staff and customers safe,” but protested last week as well. Was continuing.

“Actions are incompatible”

In a letter issued on Sunday (pdf), Gove said, “Actions are incompatible with the role of government advisers in anti-Islamic hatred,” of the Leeds McCa Mosque Imam. The country is proud of its democratic values ​​and freedoms, including tolerance, freedom of speech and community. “

The $ 15 million film was written by the Islamic Sheikh Yasser Al-Habib and, according to its website, tells the story of “The Tragic Journey of Our Lady of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Depictions of some characters offended some Sunni Muslims. Sunnis make up the majority of Muslims around the world. Protests by Muslim men have been held outside the cinemas of Bradford, Bolton, Birmingham and Shefield since June 5.

“We are writing now because we have no choice but to withdraw our appointment and end your role with the government immediately,” Gove wrote. “Recent support for a campaign that limits freedom of speech (a campaign that itself promotes community tension) no longer continues to work with the government in a role designed to promote community harmony. It means it’s not appropriate. “

“You encouraged an ongoing campaign to prevent cinemas from showing the movie” Lady of Heaven. ” This is a clear effort to limit artistic expression. The campaign you supported has led to street protests that encourage religious hatred, “he added.

Campaign to limit freedom of speech

“This clear involvement in campaigns that limit freedom of speech is incompatible with the role of government advisers,” Gove wrote.

“There is no doubt that you will see reports of scenes outside various cinemas. These included deep and disturbing videos of inter-denominational chanting and anti-Shiite hatred. As you know. Anti-Shiite hatred has been a very serious problem for many years and every opportunity must be challenged as part of a broader effort to combat anti-Shiite hatred. You are part of these actions. We were disappointed to see that we didn’t blame some of the protests we were doing, “he said.

Sunday, asim Issue a statement accordinglyThe British government did not contact him before making the decision, saying “I had no chance to reveal a misunderstanding.” He added that he did not attend or organize any protests.

Asim was appointed as an independent advisor in 2019 to provide the government with expert advice on the definition of Islamophobia.

He said he fully understood and supported the value of free speech, but “when there are boundaries and limits to free speech, there are subtle and complex arguments.”

Owen Evans


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist who covers stories from a wide range of countries with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.