Muslim Student Wants ‘American Sniper’ Showing Canceled
A Muslim student attending the University of Missouri called on the student association to cancel an upcoming showing on campus of the blockbuster hit film American Sniper because she feels that it is “blatant racist, colonialist propaganda.”
Farah El-Jayyousi, a junior and self-described advocate who is double-majoring in psychology and women’s and gender studies, wrote a letter to the editor of campus paper The Maneater decrying the film because it “dehumanizes Arabs and Muslims and encourages racism in society.” She felt inclined to put the film into its “rightful context:”
[A] culture that has systematically and systemically vilified, demonized, exoticized, brutalized, colonized and dehumanized Arabs, South Asians, Muslims and people of color for centuries by way of military force, the legal system, popular culture and media, and various social/political institutions.
El-Jayyousi writes that too many “white Americans” had positive reactions to the film she says “glorifies the mass murder of Iraqis” and paints Arabs and Muslims as “less than human.”
As for the film’s protagonist, El-Jayyousi describes Chris Kyle as “a killer with no regard for human life” who is propped up by American society as a hero, ignoring the “staggering numbers of people” killed by Kyle.
El-Jayyousi describes in her letter being regularly taunted with slurs like “towel-head” and “terrorist” while walking around. She says her request is only to “advocate” on her own behalf because she is a “Muslim woman of color who chooses to wear the hijab:”
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.
In her conclusion, El-Jayyousi attempts to clarify that she is not advocating censorship but only affirming her right to feel safe in her own body. She ends by asking for a “public apology and explanation… by all parties involved” who approved the screening of the film.
But in a release to students, no apology was offered. The Missouri Students Association stated, “After much deliberation, we have made the decision to keep the film in our schedule.”
The screenings of American Sniper will take place as planned on April 17 and 18.