Malaysia bans ‘un-Islamic’ Noah film

Malaysia is the latest Muslim country to ban ‘Noah’ on religious grounds, in addition to Indonesia, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE

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Malaysia has joined a list of other Islamic countries which banned the Hollywood biblical epic “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, denouncing it as irreligious and saying it violates the Islamic code against depicting prophets, Agence France-Presse reported.

A home ministry official Saturday confirmed that Paramount’s latest big budget film, which has sparked an outcry among Muslim groups worldwide, will not be screened in predominantly Muslim Malaysia.

The film has already been banned in Indonesia, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on religious grounds.
The film has also angered some Christians in the United States over Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah, who is regarded as an important figure in both Christianity and Islam.

Malaysia’s home ministry’s Film Censorship Board unit chairman Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid said a decision to ban the film was made about two weeks ago.

“Yes, I can confirm that it has been banned by the board, the movie can cause quite a lot of anger and distress if it is shown in Malaysia,” AFP quoted him as saying.

Abdul Halim said the main reason for the ban was the portrayal of Noah by Crowe, since Islam forbids visual depictions of any prophet.

Muslims make up 60 percent of multi-ethnic Malaysia’s 30 million population, while Christians account for about nine percent.

Malaysia has censored other movies on religious grounds in the past, including Brokeback Mountain and The Passion of the Christ.

It has also occasionally pulled the plug on shows by foreign - usually Western - artists out of fear of angering conservative Muslims.

Conservatives cry foul over concerts by Western artists whom they accuse of promoting promiscuity, corrupting young people or offending religious sensitivities.

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding Noah has emerged just days after “Son of God,” another biblical big-screen production, had a blockbuster opening last week. It remains unknown, however when and where the film will be shown in cinemas across the Middle East and other Muslim countries.

Son of God” has received scare coverage in Arab media and is perhaps comparable to the 2004 release of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” which was lauded by some in the region, but banned by more conservative Arab states.

Exactly 10 years ago, “Passion of the Christ” was screened in Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon – countries home to large Christian populations - and drew enthusiastic crowds.

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