Christchurch attack film on hold due to backlash from Muslims

8/14/2021 12:42 PM
Shootings in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed 51 people

A film about the Christchurch terrorist attacks in 2019 has been put on hold due to the enormous backlash from New Zealand's Muslim community, after the script was leaked last month.

The film, entitled "They Are Us," was to focus on the shootings in two mosques that killed 51 people and injured 48 Muslims. An online petition was also launched to shut down the film’s production and received nearly 75,000 signatures, which subsequently led to the producer Philippa Campbell resigning from the project.

Aya Al-Umari, whose brother Hussein was killed in the attack two years ago, said: “It’s just wrong on so many levels. This has affected many people beyond the scope of directly impacted victims.”

The director Andrew Niccol put out a statement showing his regret for those that lost their lives in the massacre and saying pre-production of "They Are Us" would not continue until "full consultation with New Zealand's Muslim community has taken place.":

"I am deeply saddened by the pain caused to the families of the victims, due to the wrongful distribution of our draft script for 'They Are Us.' The script is far from final, and never intended to be shared with the affected members of the Muslim community at such an early stage," Niccol said. 

"The sole purpose of the script, which was released without permission, was to gauge interest of potential financiers. It was given to them in the strictest confidence and all were informed that this was not intended to be the final version. All scenes in the script are placeholders until we have completed further consultation with the families," 

"Our hope for this film, conceived by producer Ayman Jamal, which will take years to complete, is that it will honour the survivors and the lives lost. It will serve as a testament to the acts of heroism and sacrifice that took place on that tragic day."

"New Zealand's embrace of its Muslim community is a testament to the strength of human solidarity and compassion. From its inception, we wanted to tell the story of how an unprecedented act of hatred was overwhelmed by an outpouring of love. We are committed to ensuring that the voices of the affected Muslim community, and the voices of the wider community, will be heard moving forward."