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Hundreds evacuated from Wolverhampton cinema after film protest

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from Cineworld Wolverhampton after 50 protestors turned up and staged a sit-in over the screening of a controversial film.

Police had to be called and the cinema cleared and closed after the protestors surged through the main entrance and headed for the screen showing Bollywood blockbuster, Nanak Shah Fakir.

Once inside, the Sikh campaigners sat down on the floor and began to shout, refusing to move until cinema bosses met their demands and stopped the screening.

The drama unfolded at the multiplex at Bentley Bridge, Wednesfield, at 5.30pm on Sunday.

Bosses at Cineworld have apologised to customers and offered full refunds to those affected.

The film has been mired in controversy since its release last week.

It stems from a depiction of the Guru and other religious figures in human form, which is considered to be a blasphemous violation of religious doctrine by many Sikhs.

It has been banned in many parts of India and attracted mass protests, while some UK cinemas have refused to show it through fear of offending religious sentiments.

Odeon confirmed it would no longer be showing the film in any of its cinemas because of the protest.

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Nanak Shah Fakir, which is directed by Sartaj Singh Pannu and narrated by Arif Zakaria, has been mired in controversy since its release last week.

It stems from a depiction of the Guru and other religious figures in human form, which is considered to be a blasphemous violation of religious doctrine by many Sikhs.

It has been banned in many parts of India and attracted mass protests, while some UK cinemas have refused to show it through fear of offending religious sentiments.

Cineworld said it has no plans to show the film in future following the incident. Posters advertising the film have since been removed from the cinema's walls.

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Some cinema goers were left frightened by the episode. One man, who asked not to be named, said he was among dozens of customers asked to leave the multiplex when the commotion ensued.

He said: "It was extremely intimidating. For a group of people to be able to get a film stopped and then banned is just ridiculous.

"It's an attack on freedom of speech. The atmosphere was quite aggressive in there and it's not what you expect to face when you go and watch a film."

Cineworld spokeswoman Liz Larvin, said: "We can confirm that customers were asked to leave our Wolverhampton cinema due to a small protest.

"We apologised and offered those customers affected a full refund. The police were called to the cinema and we are currently working closely with them to investigate.

"We have taken the decision to cancel screenings of Nanak Shah Fakir because we want our customers to enjoy visiting our cinemas and experience a wide range of films without disruption from others.

"We apologise to anyone disappointed by this decision and to those customers impacted on Sunday."

Earlier this year, a petition was lodged with the Indian High Court objecting the film's release.

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