American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, adapted the memoir of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle – the deadliest sniper in American military history – for the big screen. Surprisingly, the movie, which shows the protagonist taking out dozens of Iraqis, has found an eager audience in Iraq.

American Sniper In Iraq

When American Sniper premiered in theaters in Iraq, it proved to be a hot ticket at the movie theaters, selling out many of its showings. While some audience members passively took in the war film, others were actively rooting for Kyle, played by Bradley Cooper in the film. “Some people watching were just concentrating, but others were screaming ‘shoot him! He has an IED, don’t wait for permission!'” Gaith Mohammed told the GlobalPost. “When the sniper was hesitating to shoot [the child holding the rocket-propelled grenade] everyone was yelling, ‘Just shoot him!'”

“I love watching war movies because especially now they give me the strength to face ISIS,” Mohammad continued, adding that he didn’t think the film was offensive towards Iraqis, stating, “The sniper was killing terrorists, the only thing that bothered me was when he said he didn’t know anything about the Quran!”

Fellow moviegoer Omar Jalal, agreed with Mohammad, saying. “Kyle was a hero and he went through difficult training,” he said. “It’s just a movie, and I like war movies. If they are true or not, whatever!”

Despite the enthusiasm of some Iraqis, others were less keen on American Sniper, and the film was eventually pulled from the popular Mansour Mall theater “because the hero of this film boasts of killing more than 160 Muslims,” an employee said.

An Iraqi man named Wael, who’s seen the movie three times, admits he finds the film somewhat problematic.  “To some extent, I considered it against all Muslims,” he said. “The sniper, he has a chance to hit the child and his mother in their foot or anywhere without killing them, but he didn’t because he’s bloodthirsty like all the American troops.”

Iraqi filmmaker Mohamed Al-Daradji weighed in on the film’s simultaneous popularity and divisiveness to state that more films about the war need to be made by Iraqis from their perspective. “When Iraqis see a film [about war], they’ll be engaged in it because they feel part of them is there,” he explained. “That’s why we Iraqi filmmakers have to make films about Iraqi people.”

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