COLUMBIA — MU student leaders plan to meet with veterans and members of MU’s Muslim community on Monday to sort out a growing dispute over screening the film "American Sniper" on campus.
Showings of the movie are scheduled on April 17 and 18 as part of the regular film series this semester in Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union. The movie is about the Navy SEAL who is credited as being the most lethal sniper in American military history.
In the last week, the plan to screen the movie has prompted letters and debate about the way Muslims and Arabs are portrayed. Both veterans and Muslims have taken sides in the matter.
Monday's discussion is intended to help resolve the differences and determine whether the film will be shown.
“At this moment we have not made a decision as to whether we are going to cancel the film or not,” Missouri Students Association President Payton Head said Friday in an email.
"We will be meeting with members of our Muslim community as well as our veterans this coming Monday to have a conversation about it.”
A widely disseminated Muslim viewpoint was written by MU student Farah El-Jayyousi and published as a letter to the editor in The Maneater on March 3.
In the letter, El-Jayyousi wrote that, "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."
She said she was “extremely disturbed that the film was even considered a viable option, let alone that it is actually being shown on this campus.”
“The film glorifies the mass murder of Iraqis, including civilians who are men, women and children.”
At the end of the article, she called for the MSA and Graduate Professional Council Film Committee, which scheduled the movie, to either cancel the screenings or replace it with a more thoughtful alternative.
She suggested an event analyzing “American Sniper” and similar films and media through a critical lens, followed by a public apology from all parties involved in the decision to screen the film.
The letter sparked debate in the comments section below her letter and also on The Maneater’s Facebook page. Many took offense to the article, claiming that El-Jayyousi’s requests are a censorship of free speech.
A common thread in the debate is the tension between free speech and a student’s right to feel safe on campus.
Said one commenter: "What you are asking for is censorship, by any and every meaning of the word. By all means, speak out, and speak out loudly, against the hate and bigotry that is demonstrably on the rise."
id="docs-internal-guid-e23c897e-f228-b7cd-8d34-119109b953be" dir="ltr">Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.