ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan, faced with uproar over its cancellation of a screening of the Iraq War drama “American Sniper,” has reversed course and now plans to show the film at its originally scheduled time and place on Friday.
Criticism of the Ann Arbor school flooded in after the Center for Campus Involvement announced Tuesday that it was dropping plans to show the blockbuster. The cancellation followed complaints from dozens of students about portrayals of Arabs and the Middle East in the film.
The center did an about-face Wednesday and said the movie would be shown “in a forum that provides an appropriate space for dialogue and reflection,” instead of during Friday’s UMix event.
The school changed course again Wednesday night and announced that “American Sniper” will be shown at the originally scheduled time and location. The university also will show an alternative movie, “Paddington,” at the same time.
“It was a mistake to cancel the showing of the movie ‘American Sniper’ on campus as part of a social event for students,” E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, said in a statement late Wednesday. “The initial decision to cancel the movie was not consistent with the high value the University of Michigan places on freedom of expression and our respect for the right of students to make their own choices in such matters.”
Sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui started a petition Tuesday after learning that a showing of the film was planned for Friday. Mekkaoui told The Michigan Daily she identifies as Arab and Middle Eastern and feels the film “condones a lot of anti-Middle Eastern and North African propaganda.”
The conservative campus group Young Americans for Freedom, however, urged the Ann Arbor school to show the film. In a statement, the group’s chairman said: “Democracy, free expression, and common sense have prevailed.”
“American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, is based on the autobiography of Navy Seal Chris Kyle.
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