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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Bilal films draws Twitter controversy in Qatar


Bilal movie
Bilal movie

A Twitter spat has erupted over a recently-launched film inspired by one of the Prophet Muhammed’s key companions.

Some in Qatar are calling for the banning of the UAE-made, feature-length animation Bilal movie, saying it is insulting and lacks Islamic context. But others said such criticism is nothing more than a storm in a ghawa cup.

The film had its movie-theater debut this week and is based on the the life of Bilal Ibn Rabah – a slave who was freed and became Islam’s first Muezzin.

It has received acclaim on the film festival circuit, and debuted at the Ajyal Film Festival in Qatar last year without incident.


However, following a screening of the movie yesterday in Doha, a hashtag   (We demand the banning of the movie Bilal in Qatar) was created.

It was apparently started by Hamad Al Braidi, who describes himself on Twitter as being a Qatari poet.

He and other critics appear upset that the film lacks Islamic and historical context:


Translation: A film on Bilal (may Allah bless him) without mentioning the Prophet (peace be upon him), without a mere mention of the word “mosque” and then marring the facts regarding the well-known incident when Bilal said “Ahadad Ahad” (refusing to renounce Islam under torture).


Translation: The people of Qatar do not accept that the Prophet’s companions be defamed, that facts be twisted to strip them of their (honorable) status and of their special proximity to the Prophet (pbuh). We are all against the screening of this film.

Al Braidi’s comments have spurred dozens of tweets in support of a ban, with some adding that they oppose any depiction of the Prophet or his companions.

Translation: Anyone who wants to learn about the life of the Prophet’s companions can seek out the numerous books instead of misleading films. It’s a base way of destroying the minds of those who support such films.


However, many more people disagreed with the attacks on the cartoon.

Translation: The film premiered at Ajyal film festival. The word amazing doesn’t do it justice. It’s a film that makes one proud that we are now making films in Qatar and exporting them to the world.


Translation: People do not know the meaning of inspired by. As soon as they saw the name Bilal they jumped to the conclusion it was the Prophet’s companion.

This latest Twitter campaign comes as many in Qatar have been debating the merits of hashtag activism.

In this case, many cautioned against drawing conclusions until actually seeing the movie:

Translation: I don’t understand the reason behind banning any film. It does nothing but generate fuss around it and gives it more publicity.

Translation: How are you calling for the banning of the film when you still haven’t seen it except for its trailer. A film that took three years to make is now demanded to be banned without even being seen!

For his part, the producer of the movie recently explained that the film was deliberately “inspired by a true story” and not based on the historical figure himself over concerns of a religious backlash.

Here’s the trailer for the film, which premieres worldwide this month.

Have you seen it? Thoughts?

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