Arabs have banned “Noah,” the upcoming big-budget Hollywood film featuring Russell Crowe, expanding the religious controversy of the film to the Middle East. Paramount Pictures has already added a “disclaimer” to the film after conservative Christians complained that excessive artistic license was taken as compared to the Genesis account.
According to a report from The Associated Press on Thursday, as carried by MSN News, “Director of media content at the National Media Center in the United Arab Emirates, Juma Al-Leem, told The Associated Press that the movie will not be allowed in local cinemas because it contradicts a generally held taboo in Islam of depicting a prophet.”
Islamic law states that depicting a prophet in any manner could lead to idolatry or blasphemy, the latter of which can lead to criminal punishment in some Muslim countries.
“There are scenes that contradict Islam and the Bible, so we decided not to show it,” Al-Leem said. “It is important to respect these religions and not show the film.”
States the AP report:
The Quran mentions only 25 prophets by name, including Noah. Muslims believe that Noah, who is referred to in Arabic as Nuh, built his ark after God charged him to do it as people in his community refused to worship God alone. While there are differences between the biblical and Quranic story of Noah, both mention a terrible flood and Noah's vessel saving a pair of each kind of animal.
The film, which opens at the end of March, has been banned in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported, because it “contradicts the teachings of Islam.”
The film's website now features a disclaimer on the home page that says:
The film is inspired by the story of Noah. 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 Biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.
“The studio is doing this because they're walking a very fine line here,” The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni said. “They want this movie to be a wide, mainstream hit that will appeal to global audiences regardless of faith, but they want to do that while at the same time not alienating people who see the Noah story as gospel.”
Here is the film’s official trailer.