No love for ‘Noah:’ Egypt to join Gulf in banning the Hollywood film

Many Middle Eastern countries are not “all aboard” for Noah.

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Many Middle Eastern countries are not “all aboard” for Noah.

The Hollywood blockbuster starring Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, which has been banned from Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, is now also being barred by Egypt.

The $125 million dollar film has been banned on the basis on religious grounds, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters this week.

Egypt’s decision followed the condemnation of the film by the influential Sunni institution Al Azhar, a group which has always proscribed the depiction of prophets and companions of Prophet Mohammad, Gulf News reported Tuesday.

“Showing this film constitutes a flagrant violation of rules of Sharia ... and provokes the feelings of the faithful,” Al Azhar said in a statement. “Such works violate the stature of God’s prophets and Messengers.”

The Creativity Front, a grouping of Egypt’s top filmmakers and writers, has criticized Al Azhar’s fatwa (edict) against “Noah.”

“The role of Al Azhar should be limited to advising against watching the film rather than demanding its ban,” said the group, which was set up in 2012 to counter Islamists’ rise in Egypt.

The group also added that barring the film was nearly impossible as people could find it online after its release.

In 2004, Egyptian censors approved the public screening of Mel Gibson’s The Passions of the Christ on Jesus’ (Isa) crucifixion amid objections from Al Azhar. However, they banned the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code after condemnation from the Coptic Church.

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 Quran is devoted to him.

The controversy surrounding Noah has emerged just days after “Son of God,” another biblical big-screen production, had a blockbuster opening last week.

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