American Sniper Blamed For Increase in Violence Against Muslims, Bradley Cooper Asked to Help

American Sniper, starring Jenkintown native Bradley Cooper as real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, takes the number one spot over the weekend once again, giving it a box office grand total of $200 million. Insiders say the film is on course to becoming the highest-earning war movie in history. The current record-holder is Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, which took in $216.5 million in 1998.

While the film continues to rack up dollars, it’s also racking up some controversy. Deadline reports that a civil rights group has seen a rise in violence against Muslims since the film’s release, and they have contacted Cooper and director Clint Eastwood for help. More:

Washington, D.C.-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. …

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.”