U-M reverses decision to show 'American Sniper'

It set off a firestorm of criticism after the University of Michigan said it would show the screening of  "American Sniper."

Hundreds complained the film perpetuates negative stereotypes against Muslims. But in a surprise move this week, the school reversed its decision to cancel the screening.

On Friday the film was shown on campus - leaving some students feeling that free speech won out.

"I think it's over-dramatized to be honest," said Walter Teng, a student.

FOX 2 spoke with several Michigan students and that was a common theme.

"I think the movie is kind of censoring what we can and cannot say," said student Katie Wareck. "I feel like we should be able to make what we want of it."

"I mean if you want to be offended by it that's fine," said Chris Krebs, another student. "But I think it's kind of a non-issue."

"I'm from Malaysia so I'm from an Islamic country and I know a lot of my Malaysian friends are not offended by the movie at all," Teng said. 

At least 300 Muslim middle-eastern and north African students at U-M were. They signed a petition to have the showing canceled and the university caved, only to reverse course.

"We think it was a mistake in the beginning to cancel the original showing of this movie," said Rick Fitzgerald, public affairs director. "So we put  it back on tonight."

FOX 2 reached out to the Muslim student association but they declined comment, citing backlash and death threats for speaking about showing the film.

One student who would not speak on camera shared a number of disturbing tweets she received after speaking out against the university's decision.

"I think that people's opinions could be heard on a panel even after showing the movie," said student Talia Clarick. "And I think it's important to talk about it."

The university planned to have a panel discussion for American Sniper but its plan fell apart because the showing was not rescheduled and it was too late find panelists. 

Some students say to have a discussion about this film would have been unfair.

"I mean to expect things like a panel to be there," Krebs said. "I think it's good to have a dialogue about it but I think that if it's any other movie there wouldn't be a panel there so why this one? "

University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh tweeted that he was "proud to be an American" and was going to show the movie to his team. 

A couple hours later the school changed its decision, but officials say that the decision was unrelated.
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