Cineworld has cancelled all UK screenings of a film about the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, after it prompted protests outside some cinemas.
The cinema chain said it made the decision “to ensure the safety of our staff and customers”.
More than 120,000 people have signed a petition for The Lady of Heaven film to be pulled from UK cinemas.
The Bolton Council of Mosques called the film “blasphemous” and “underpinned with a sectarian ideology”.
But the film’s producer, Malik Shlibak, said “no one should dictate for the British public what they can and cannot watch or discuss”, describing the protesters as “fringe groups”.
The film, which was released in UK cinemas on 3 June, claims to tell the story of Lady Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad.
It has been criticised by some groups for depicting the Prophet Muhammad – which is seen as an insult in Islam – and for its portrayal of prominent revered figures in early Sunni Islam.
It was pulled from the Cineworld chain after reported protests in Bolton, Birmingham and Sheffield.
In Bolton, more than 100 people protested outside the cinema, Bolton News reported.
In an email to Cineworld – reported by Bolton News – Bolton Council of Mosques chairman Asif Patel said the film was “underpinned with a sectarian ideology” and “misrepresents orthodox historical narratives and disrespects the most esteemed individuals of Islamic history”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also criticised the decision to pull the film.
Speaking to TalkTV on Wednesday, the health secretary said: “You might not like what someone’s got to say, but they have a right to say it.”
Mr Javid pointed out that there are no blasphemy laws in the UK and warned that would be “an incredibly dangerous road to go down”.
“What we have in this country is freedom of speech and expression and that is a fundamental value,” he added.