Bradley Cooper American Sniper
Bradley Cooper portrays Chris Kyle in American Sniper – but is the film stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment?Warner Bros

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has officially declared 2 February "Chris Kyle Day" in honour of the dead Navy Seal marksman portrayed in the American Sniper film.

Abbott made the announcement during a speech to veterans at the Texans Veterans of Foreign Affairs Mid-Winter Convention in Austin, according to the governor's official website.

"In honour of a Texas son, a Navy Seal and an American hero – a man who defended his brothers and sisters in arms on and off the battlefield – I am declaring February 2nd Chris Kyle Day in Texas," Abbott said during the speech, according to the statement.

The movie, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle, is a box office hit, but has been attacked by critics who say it glorifies war.

In his memoir, which the film is based on, Kyle called Muslims "savages", but his character has been sanitised in the film.

An Arab-American civil rights organisation asked Eastwood and Cooper to denounce hateful language directed at US Arabs and Muslims after the release of the film, according to a Reuters report.

"It is our opinion that you could play a significant role in assisting us in alleviating the danger we are facing," stated a letter by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

American Sniper has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture and best actor for Cooper, and has grossed $217m (£144m) in the US since its release on Christmas Day.

Chris Kyle was a sniper in the elite US Navy Seals special forces division. He completed four tours in Iraq and is considered to be the deadliest sniper in US military history, having 160 confirmed kills.

Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield were both shot dead by a fellow veteran at a Texas gun range in February 2013. A former Marine charged with their deaths goes on trial next month.

Kyle was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He received two Silver Star Medals, five Bronze Star Medals, one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. Iraqi insurgents called him the "Devil of Ramadi" and placed a number of bounties on his head.

Iraqi insurgents called him the "Devil of Ramadi" and placed a number of bounties on his head.