Suicide Bombing Comedy to Mark Anniversary of 9/11

29.08.2011

Channel 4 has sparked outrage by planning on screening “Four Lions”, a controversial comedy film by comedian Chris Morris about Muslim suicide bombers, as part of a season of programmes to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Four Lions is about a group of home-grown British terrorists who are planning an attack during the London Marathon, but end up making a mess of their plans. As the Daily Mail reports, Channel 4 will show the comedy alongside factual documentaries related to 9/11 and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Even though Four Lions is not about 9/11, Channel 4 was showing it at this time ‘because it looked at the wider ‘geopolitical’ discussion on terrorism’ (Daily Mail).

 

Mixed reactions to suicide bomber parody in the UK

Four Lions, the film that mimics a group of suicide bombers in the UK, has evoked mixed reactions just after its release. Many are enthusiastic and the London Evening Standard calls fear the greatest enemy of innovation, but this film manages to overcome fear in an innovative way by making fundamentalists appear ridiculous. Others, however, have called for a boycott of the film. They are relatives of the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London. In their opinion, the film follows too closely what has happened in reality and is insensitive to the victims. In the Guardian, Muslim commentator Tania Ahsan, however, points out the film’s subtleties finds it “extremely funny”.

Two new British film comedies dare to poke fun at religion

Two British films are coming out in April and May, both of which dare to approach religion with a comic touch. They will, of course, be castigated by the uncompromisingly religious, the usual suspects who believe that faith can never be a laughing matter and revel in demonstrating their beliefs through the medium of a violent punch up.

The first film, David Baddiel’s new offering, The Infidel, tells the story of a middle-aged Muslim family man who discovers he was actually born a Jew. To try and make sense of this sudden identity crisis, Mahmud, played by Iranian-born comic Omid Djalili, seeks out his neighbor, a drunken Jewish cabdriver called Lenny. The hilarity that ensues is largely based around the Muslim and Jewish communities’ deep misunderstanding of each other and how two flawed but instantly lovable characters learn to respect each other and their faiths.

The second film follows an even more controversial line. Four Lions is Christ Morris’s much anticipated movie debut and revolves around five wannabe jihadists from Sheffield who plan a series of coordinated suicide bombs in London. Their stupidity and haplessness is matched by the police, who are as incompetent and ill-informed as the people they are trying to catch.

Navid Akhtar, a film-maker who has specialized in serious documentaries on the nature of British Islam, including the film Young, Angry and Muslim, agrees. “I think after July 7 and the Danish cartoons there were plenty of British Muslims who felt equally concerned as anyone else about the global reaction and the ridiculousness of it all,” he says. “What we’re getting as a result is a more sophisticated and developed Western Islam that gets comedy and understands that it’s OK to poke a little fun at yourself.”

British film satire on suicide bombers launched in US

Chris Morris, a humorist whose past TV programs have triggered controversy, has made a film about a group of British suicide bombers.

Four Lions, which was partially funded by Film4, was screened last night at the Sundance film festival in Utah. The film culminates in scenes in which four young suicide bombers dressed in bird costumes question their motives at the last minute, causing chaos at the London marathon.

Morris is known to have worked on little else over the last five years, during which he rejected the opportunity to pursue other TV and film projects. The 44-year-old satirist does not appear in the film, but provides a voiceover at its conclusion.

“Chris has spent an incredible amount of time immersing himself in Islam, terror and counter-terror,” a friend said. “He has toured Britain and met dozens of radicals, ex-radicals, academics, journalists and British Asians. He sat in on high-profile terror trials for weeks, read the key texts and recent books, has gone to innumerable ­public meetings, met community groups, and made it his business to educate himself on the nature of fundamentalism.”