Iraqi Theater Pulls 'American Sniper' After Complaints From Government, Locals

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Baghdad's only theater stopped showing the movie after the Iraqi Ministry of Culture threatened the owner with fines and closure.

Clint Eastwood's much-talked-about Iraq war drama American Sniper has been pulled from Baghdad's only theater after complaints from locals and the government, reports The Washington Post

Despite packing in the crowds at home, Sniper met with hostility with Iraqis who feel the movie glorifies American actions in the country, as well as "insults" the people by painting them as "terrorists."

Sniper tells the story of Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. The content of the film has proved polarizing not only becuase of the accuracy of the portayal but because of the content.

“It glorifies Americans and makes Iraqis out to be nothing but terrorists,” Ahmed Kamal told the Post. Kamal, a 27-year-old  teacher, downloaded the film for free on a pirate website because he didn’t want to pay to see a movie in which the hero refers to Iraqis as “savages.”

He said: “I wasn’t prepared to spend money to see it. It portrays Americans as strong and noble and Iraqis as ignorant and violent.”

Other Iraqis told the Post that the film fails to make any mention of the huge number of local people who risked their lives to work alongside American forces in stabilize the country. Sarmad Moazzem served alongside U.S. troops for five years and now works as a security advisor at the Baghdad theater that pulled Sniper. “The film makes out that all Iraqis are terrorists — men, women and children,” he said, “whereas actually, there are some people who loved the Americans and wanted them to stay to help rebuild our country. The movie didn’t show any of them.”

Moazzem also pointed out several inaccuracies in the film, such as the identification of Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood where Shiite militias battled U.S. troops on numerous occasions, as a stronghold of al-Qaeda — which is a Sunni group.

The Post reports that the manager of the theater, Fares Hilal, withdrew Sniper last week after a call from a "senior official at the Ministry of Culture." The official warned the manager that the theater would face fines and possible closure if it continued to show the film.

"He told me the film insults Iraqis,” said Hilal, adding: “If we show it, we will be criticized. But if we don’t, we lose money.” Hilal complied with the order but said there were a lot of people who wanted to see the film. 

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