The University of Missouri students association confirmed that a campus screening of American Sniper would continue as originally scheduled after a Muslim student had protested the showing of the film earlier this month, calling it “blatant racist, colonialist propaganda.”
According to the Missourian, the film is scheduled to be shown on April 17 and 18 at the campus’sWrench Auditorium as part of a regular campus film series.
However, in a March 3 letter to University of Missouri newspaper The Maneater, Farah El-Jayyousi wrote that Clint Eastwood’s film “dehumanizes Arabs and Muslims and encourages racism in society,” and referred to the film’s protagonist, Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, as a “killer with no regard for human life.”
El-Jayyousi sought to have the screenings cancelled, writing:
I do not feel safe on this campus and for good reason. The fact that this film is being shown, the fact that I have to explain why this film is not only problematic but harmful makes me feel even more unsafe. Showing this film will create an even more hostile environment for me and other Arab, Muslim, South Asian and people of color on this campus.
I am requesting that this film not be shown and that it either be replaced with a film that does not glorify violence or support existing systems of domination and oppression, or an event addressing “American Sniper” and similar films and media texts using a critical lens. This film is blatant racist, colonialist propaganda that should not be shown under any circumstances and especially not endorsed by a branch of student government that purports to represent me and have my best interests in mind.
Lastly, I would like to clarify that this is not an attempt at censorship but an affirmation of my right to feel safe in my body and identity wherever I may be, including this campus. Freedom of speech should not come at the expense of anyone’s humanity and right to be viewed, talked about and treated with basic respect and dignity.
I am asking that this film not be shown and that an official, public apology and explanation be issued by all parties involved in approving the screening of American Sniper on Mizzou’s campus.
After El-Fayyousi’s letter was published, the Missouri Students Association issued a statement saying it had “received numerous letter from students asking for the film to be cancelled.”
The student government convened a meeting to discuss the film, announcing last week that it had not yet decided whether or not to cancel the screenings. Student leaders reportedly met with both veterans and Muslim students to resolve disputes related to the film.
On Friday, the students association announced the film would be screened as planned.
“After much deliberation, we have made the decision to keep the film in our schedule,” the student group wrote. “MSA and other student organizations will utilize the screening to create new conversations about the issues presented in the film. We will use these conversations to help cultivate an inclusive campus climate.”
American Sniper was the highest-grossing film of 2014, taking in over $340 million domestically and over $500 million worldwide.