Washington, DC-based civil rights organization, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, has written to Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper outlining an escalation in threats made against Arab and Muslim Americans since the release of American Sniper, and asking for their help to “reduce the hateful rhetoric.” In a letter dated January 21, ADC President Samer Khalaf wrote, “A majority of the violent threats we have seen over the past few days are (the) result of how Arabs and Muslims are depicted” in the film. Khalaf says the group is in receipt of “hundreds of violent messages” from moviegoers, many of which have been made on social media.
The Warner Bros film has been a huge hit at the domestic box office, crossing $200M this weekend. Overseas, it has opened to the biggest grosses of Eastwood’s directorial career in many territories. It is also nominated for six Oscars.
Warner Bros’ spokesman Jack Horner told Reuters over the weekend that the company “denounces any violent, anti-Muslim rhetoric, including that which has been attributed to viewers.” He added, “Hate and bigotry have no place in the important dialogue that this picture has generated about the veteran experience.”
The story of expert Navy Seal marksman Chris Kyle, “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” who had 160 kills in Iraq, is proving both a big draw and talking point across the Arab world. Despite the box office heat and critical accolades, there has also been criticism in the international media of the film’s perceived whitewashing of Kyle’s actions.
The ADC said it believes Eastwood and Cooper could “play a significant role in assisting us in alleviating the danger we are facing.” Wrote Khalaf, “Your visibility, influence and connection to the film would be a tremendous force in drawing attention to and lessening the serious dangers facing the respective communities.”
Khalaf also noted that the ADC is working with the FBI and police to address the threats. He told Reuters this weekend that there was no sense in calling for a boycott of the film. “People are going to see the movie. If we boycott it, it will only cause people to want to see it more.”