Twitter controversy erupts concerning UAE animated film “Bilal: A New Breed of Hero” calling for its banning in Qatar.
Following its theater debut, the feature-length animation Bilal: A New Breed of Hero faced harsh criticism from upset Qatari Twitter users. The movie, which was inspired by the life of Bilal Ibn Rabah, a companion of the Prophet Mohammad who went on to become Islam’s first Muezzin (one who calls for prayer), was campaigned against by angry Twitter users, asking the state to ban the movie in the country.
The campaigners used the hashtag #منع_فيلم_بلال_في_قطر (translation: ban the Bilal film in Qatar) to express that they felt the movie lacked Islamic context and is insulting to Islamic history. While others expressed pride in such a quality production animated movie being created in the Gulf, and criticized the anti-Bilal campaigners for hating on the movie before watching it.
As Islamic rite says to refrain from depicting prophets, some believe it to be equally as offensive to depict any of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet Mohammad). In expectation of such criticism, the producer of the movie had stated that the movie is inspired by a true story, rather than claiming it to be based on the actual events themselves, in an earlier press conference.
The cartoon tells the story of Bilal, a young boy who dreams of becoming a great warrior, but is abducted into slavery with his little sister. Far away from home, Bilal and Ghufaira find themselves under the mercy of the ruthless leader Umayya, who rules with an unjust iron fist. Upon converting to Islam, Bilal becomes a free man and in control of his own fate.
Bilal: A New Breed of Hero is an upcoming action-adventure drama film produced by Barajoun Entertainment, and is directed by Khurram Alavi and Ayman Jamal. With a production budget of $30 million, it first premiered on Animation Day at the Cannes Film Festival 2016.