Qatar, Bahrain, UAE ban new Hollywood blockbuster

Paramount Pictures says Gulf states act on religious grounds even before worldwide premiere

Three Arab countries have banned the Hollywood film "Noah" on religious grounds even before its worldwide premiere and several others are expected to follow suit, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters on Saturday.

Islam frowns upon representing holy figures in art and depictions of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in European and North American media have repeatedly sparked deadly protests in Islamic countries over the last decade, fanning cultural tensions with the West.

"Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries," a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, told Reuters.

"The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam'," the representative said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

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

Noah, who in the Bible's Book of Genesis built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood, is revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An entire chapter in the Koran is devoted to him.

Cairo's Al-Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam and a main center of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday.

"Al-Azhar ... renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet (Mohammad), peace be upon him," it announced in a statement.

They "provoke the feelings of believers ... and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law," the fatwa added.

Mel Gibson's 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ" on Jesus's crucifixion was widely screened in the Arab World, despite a flurry of objections by Muslim clerics.

A 2012 Arab miniseries "Omar" on the exploits of a seventh century Muslim ruler and companion of the Prophet Mohammad also managed to defy clerics' objections and air on a Gulf-based satellite television channel.

The publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a Danish newspaper in 2006 touched off riots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people died.

A 2012 amateur Youtube video deriding Mohammad produced in California stoked protests throughout the region, and may have contributed to a deadly militant raid in Libya which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other American staff.

"Noah," whose official video trailer depicts a burly Crowe wielding an axe and computer-animated geysers swamping an army of sinners hoping to board his ark, has also stoked religious controversy at home.

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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Posted by: me2

Groan, Fahd and Khalid.

Why don't you excite each other by seeing just how entwined your comments can be. You could set up a new group and meet in coffee houses and bore each other to the nth degree.

I am sure your lives would be so intertwined that you could then ban coffee houses and thoughts in general.
Then you could just invite robots to be guests in UAE.
Wait, you could model as the template for the robots because you know what is best for everyone.

Posted by: Mick

you can always choose to not enter the cinema and allow those that aren't offended to watch something that we view as simply "entertainment" and you may stop whining about your delicate sensitivities over actors and special effects and accept that a film like this is harmless. I prefer to be treated like an adult, thanks, and not have someone decided whats good for me. You win the contest for the 100,000,oooth "you can leave the country" comments. Thanks for digging into the cliche-response bag and pulling out that winner. Always a favorite. Been here for almost 10 years and I don't plan on leaving anytime soon. I may dislike the censorship but I love the UAE, even you won't change that. My own country of Canada is not bad either, full freedoms and we aren't harmed by it - top ten for almost every quality list out there, peacefulness, quality of living, fairness, equality, admired etc etc. Never did us any harm by allowing 100% tolerance to all and no censorship

Posted by: Fahd

Yes Mick, this is how it is, there is nothing entertaining in mythology and manipulating facts. This is not our idea of entertainment and if you don't like it, you can always leave the cinema and the country instead of whining over a cartoonish nonsensical movie.

Posted by: one of the joes

hi Khalid, thanks for your clarification. happy to see that this form of sarcasm in use

Posted by: sebastian

fahd and khalid, somehow you don't mind doing/participating in any of our western entertainment when you come to London and Paris.

Posted by: Khalid

@Telcoguy, you were right. It was pretty obvious to me - apologies one and me2, I didn't intend to rile you.

Posted by: Telcoguy

@one, I think Khalid was being sarcastic

I could of course be wrong, but I am a natural optimistic

Posted by: one of the joes

Khalid, so please explain how you know what is best for me? you write 'we know what is best for everybody'. I tend to disagree.
Btw, if all people who disagree with you would actually leave the country, what would then happen?
You would most certainly have a problem to fill all the residential and office space in the city.
I am 100% convinced that your leadership wants those properties to be filled to create an economy here beyond O&G.
By inviting so many people to leave, you may not be in line with the leaders of your own country?

Posted by: Mick

It's perfectly fine, between the ice cold cinemas, the eardrum busting volume in most cinemas, the crude editing out of scenes due to rigid and often unreasonable censorship to fully grown adults and the replacement of A list films for cinemas replacing them with video store bargain bin low budget films.....I'll just do what I always do and use other means. It's just too difficult to get movies to come here on time with the rest of the world (4 months late with Anchorman 2 for example) and when they do come, they are cut up so I don't bother anymore.

Posted by: Mark Redwood

will the new movie "Son of God" also be banned then?

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