Film ‘Noah’, Blockbuster Starring Russell Crowe Banned in Arab Countries

God’s messenger: Noah, said to have built an ark (pictured) which saved the human and animal worlds from a great flood, features in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, but depicting Allah’s messengers is banned

One of the world’s most respected Islamic institutions has issued a fatwa against a Hollywood epic about Noah’s Ark because it ‘contradicts the teachings of Islam’.

Russell Crowe’s £75million film Noah has also been banned in three Arab countries after religious leaders complained that it depicted the Biblical figure – who is also a holy messenger in the Koran.

Due to premiere later this month, the blockbuster will not show in Qatar, Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates and several other countries are expected to follow suit.

Islam forbids representing holy figures in art, instead using conceptual line patterns and lettering to adorn the walls of mosques.

A whole chapter of the Koran is devoted to Noah, who legend tells built an ark which saved himself, his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood.

He also features prominently in the Biblical book of Genesis and is revered by Christians and Jews.

Fatwa: Cairo’s al-Azhar (which includes the mosque pictured left) issued a fatwa, which is a ruling under Islamic law, saying the film starring Russell Crowe (right) as Noah was a ‘clear violation’ of their teachings. The film is due to premiere in the U.S. on March 28 and was due to air in Egypt in the near future.

The fatwa – a ruling or injunction under the laws of Islam – was made by the influential Al-Azhar institution in Egypt’s capital Cairo, a centre of Sunni Islam thought which was founded in around AD970 and includes a university and a mosque.

‘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.

The fatwa added that the depictions ‘provoke the feelings of believers… and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law’.

The film also stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson and will premiere in the U.S. on March 28.

Depictions of the Prophet Mohammad in European and North American media have repeatedly sparked deadly protests in Islamic countries over the last decade, fanning cultural tensions with the West.

The worst riots were triggered after the Prophet Mohammad was depicted in a Danish newspaper in 2006. It sparked protests in the Middle East, Africa and Asia in which at least 50 people died.

A spokesman for Paramount Pictures said: ‘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 said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

Noah, whose trailer depicts 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.

Stars: Russell Crowe as Noah with Jennifer Connelly, who plays his wife Naameh and won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her appearance alongside Crowe in A Beautiful Mind.

Last year angry reactions at test screenings reportedly stoked tensions between the studio and director Darren Oronofsky.

Perhaps wisely the filming took place nowhere near the Middle East, instead being carried out in New York State and in Southern Iceland.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson plays the adopted daughter of the prophet, while screen legend Anthony Hopkins stars as his sagely grandfather.

Jennifer Connelly will play Naameh, Noah’s wife.  She won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her appearance alongside Crowe in A Beautiful Mind (2001).

The title role was reportedly offered to Michael Fassbender and Christian Bale – both of whom declined.

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,’ it reads.

The film is not the first to stoke controversy among Muslims.

Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, showing Jesus’s crucifixion, was widely screened in the Arab World despite objections by Muslim clerics.

A 2012, an amateur Youtube video deriding the Prophet Mohammad which was 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.

Source: Daily Mail

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