University Cancels American Sniper Screening Because Of Protests

Photo Credit: morguefile.com

Photo Credit: morguefile.com

Students at the University of Michigan protested against an upcoming screening of American Sniper, leading to its cancellation.

The Michigan Daily reports that Lamees Mekkaoui, a member of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality and the Middle Eastern and Arab Network on campus, started a petition yesterday (April 7). She felt the depictions of the Iraq War and residents in the Middle East and North Africa were negative, and the film’s release coincided with a time when attitudes towards people of those origins weren’t pleasant.

“As a student who identifies as an Arab and Middle Eastern student, I feel that ‘American Sniper’ condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda. It was released at a time when these anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern (and) North African hate crimes were already skyrocketing and this movie only contributed to that,” she wrote.

She posted the letter to Facebook. The positive responses led her to write another letter that she sent around campus for supporters to sign. About two hundred students, most representative of the origins Mekkaoui mentioned above, signed.

“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,” the letter read.

American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper, is based on a true story about Chris Kyle, who served as a U.S. Navy Seal. Kyle had more confirmed kills than any other sniper in the military.

The Center for Campus Involvement also responded positively, making the decision to cancel the screening, which was to be held at UMix, the campus’ alcohol-free Friday event.

“We in the Center for Campus Involvement and the UMix Late Night program did not intend to exclude any students or communities on campus through showing this film. Nevertheless, as we know, intent and impact can be very different things,” CCI’s statement said.

Mekkaoui is grateful to CCI for listening to the students and “taking quick action.”

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