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Iraqi ‘American Sniper’ Audiences Connect with Chris Kyle

Clint Eastwood’s record-breaking Iraq War biopic American Sniper has been well received by American audiences, (aside from a few outspoken critics), but now Iraqis have had a chance to view the film — and they’re very enthusiastic about it.

Baghdad’s upscale Mansour Mall featured the film for one week before management was forced to cancel showings due its subject matter. In that time, American Sniper excited audiences and sold out shows. Some moviegoers were even forced to purchase tickets a day in advance, reports the Global Post.

The Post’s Susannah George spoke with several people inside of Iraq who viewed the film. They described taking in the story from their own unique perspectives.

“Some people watching were just concentrating, but others were screaming ‘f–k, shoot him! He has an IED, don’t wait for permission!’” said Gaith Mohammed, as he described an emotional scene in the film.

Mohammed was also asked by the paper if he felt the film was racist, to which he replied, “No, why? The sniper was killing terrorists, the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn’t know anything about the Koran!”

“I love watching war movies because especially now they give me the strength to face ISIS,” he told the paper.

Another man, only described as Wael, also saw the film, but said he did not like its violent nature, and was glad it is no longer showing.

“To some extent, I considered it against all Muslims,” said Wael, who is reportedly a government ministry employee. “The sniper, he has a chance to hit the child and his mother in their foot or anywhere without killing them, but he didn’t because he’s bloodthirsty like all the American troops.”

Despite his criticism, Wael said he watched the film two additional times at a friend’s home after viewing it in a theater.

A student named Omar Jalal was upset the film had been pulled from Iraqi Cinemas. He insisted he would instead view American Sniper with his family at home, via a pirated DVD.

Although the film depicts a sniper engaged with enemy combatants inside his home country, Jalal said of Chris Kyle, “He was a hero and he went through difficult training.”

The man also said that it is the universal duty of all men to serve their country, before finishing: “It’s just a movie, and I like war movies. If they are true or not, whatever!”

Since its wide release on Jan. 16, the Oscar-nominated drama has hauled in more than $212 million domestically and more than $47 million internationally, for a worldwide total of more than $260 million in just over two weeks.

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