Rabbi says ‘there’s no right not to be religiously offended’ in Islam film row

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Rabbi says ‘there’s no right not to be religiously offended’ in Islam film row

Following UK protests at Prophet Muhammad daughter film, Rabbi Jonathan Romain writes: 'It may be regrettable but it is part of living in a society that allows free speech.'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

The right to free speech in society “far outweighs” the right “not to be religiously offended”, a leading rabbi has argued.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain made the intervention after some Muslim campaigners took party in protests which led to cinemas pulling screenings of The Lady of Heaven – a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad.

The film and its creators have been accused of blasphemy for depicting Prophet Muhammad and his daughter Fatima.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain

In a letter to The Times, Rabbi Romain writes: “Christians have endured The Life Of Brian, while Jews suffered The Passion of the Christ.

“If some Muslims object to The Lady Of Heaven, the answer is to avoid the film or to peacefully hand out corrective letters to those attending – but not to threaten the cinema or prevent others from seeing it.”

The Maidenhead Synagogue rabbi added “there is no right not to be religiously offended.”

He continued: “It may be regrettable but it is part of living in a society that allows free speech, and value of the latter far outweighs the downside of the former.”

Romain also cited the response of the Mormons after the controversial musical The Book Of Mormon enjoyed packed audiences at the theatre.

In what he said was a “mature response” they took out an advert in the programme for the musical, inviting attendees to attend a Mormon religious service.

An imam who had appeared to support the campaign to have the Islamic film pulled from UK cinemas was dismissed from his role as a government adviser on Islamophobia at the weekend.

Qari Asim was appointed in 2019 by Boris Johnson, but in a letter posted on line Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary accused Asim of backing “a campaign to limit free expression.”

Asim said the right to criticise the film “is part of free speech.”

Cineworld announced last week it had cancelled showings of the film “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”

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