Hollywood film “Noah” banned in three Muslim countries

Russell Crowe as Noah

Three Muslim countries have banned the Hollywood film Noah on religious grounds before its worldwide premiere and many others are expected to follow suit.

Islam prohibits the depiction of prophets in any form. Caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (saw) in Europe and North America have frequently sparked deadly protests in Muslim countries over the last decade, fuelling cultural tensions with the West.

A representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters: “Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries.

“The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because it contradicts the teachings of Islam.” The representative added that the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

The film will premiere in the United States on March 28.

Muslims believe that Prophet Noah (Nuh) was the first messenger sent by God to mankind. An entire chapter in the Quran is devoted to him. In the Bible’s book of Genesis, Noah built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood. Noah is revered within all three Abrahamic faiths.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, which is the highest authority of Sunni Islam, issued a fatwa against the film on Thursday.

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It announced in the statement: “Al-Azhar renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet (Muhammad), peace be upon him.

“They provoke the feelings of believers…and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law”.

Outrage, controversy and blasphemy

Caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (saw) which were published in a Danish newspaper in 2006 sparked riots in the Muslim world resulting in 50 deaths.

In 2012, a YouTube video ridiculing Muhammad (saw) produced in California touched off riots across the region, and possibly contributed to a raid in Libya which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other American staff.

The movie cost Paramount Pictures $125 million to produce starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins.

The official video trailer depicts a well-built Crowe holding an axe and computer-animated geysers swamping an army of sinners hoping to board his ark, has also stoked religious controversy in the U.S.

Jerry A. Johnson, president of a conservative National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) group, said last month he wanted to “make sure everyone who sees this impactful film knows this is an imaginative interpretation of Scripture, and not literal.”

Paramount responded by agreeing to issue a disclaimer on advertising for the film.

“While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide,” the advisory reads.

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