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Cinemas back ban on movie

CINEMA bosses in Bahrain have supported a decision not to show a movie depicting the Christian version of Noah's Ark, despite screening a trailer to filmgoers last week.

The $125 million Hollywood depiction of the Biblical tale has been banned in Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE on religious grounds ahead of its worldwide premiere in the US on March 28.

Several other Arab countries including Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait are also expected to follow suit.

The blockbuster, Noah, retells the story of the great flood from the Book of Genesis and was banned because it "contradicts the teachings of Islam", according to a representative of Paramount Pictures - the studio behind the epic movie.

Cairo's Al Azhar, the highest Sunni religious authority, issued a religious injunction against the film last Thursday, saying it rejected the depiction of messengers and prophets of God. The Biblical figure has an entire chapter devoted to him in the Holy Quran.

Cineco, which owns six cinemas across Bahrain, screened the film's trailer last week before being told it would be banned.

Company general supervisor Mahmood Jagbeer said as soon as they realised the film would be banned they stopped showing the trailer, adding he fully supported the decision after having watched the movie.

"The movie is called Noah, who is a prophet in both the Christian and Muslim religions, but when you watch it you realise it has nothing to do with the prophet Noah in the Bible or Muslim religion," he told the GDN.

"In the US there have been complaints about it from Christians so it is not just Muslims who have issues with the film.

"It is loosely the same story and the same principal or idea but it's very different at the same time.

"It is like a Hollywood version of Romeo and Juliet where it is the same characters but you see planes and bombs flying, it is not true to the story and you just can't play with religion like that.

"You can't lose the purity and honesty of religion. You can make fun of political leaders and countries but religion is something different.

"This movie is the Hollywood version of the story of Noah and I think if it was not claiming to be the story of Noah and was just an adventure movie with a different name it could have been very successful.

"Sometimes we do object when a film is banned, but in this case we totally agree with the movie censor board."

The film stars Oscar winners Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly.

It depicts Noah as suffering visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood. It is not the first film to fuel controversy in the Muslim world. Mel Gibson's 2004 production, The Passion of the Christ, was widely screened in the Arab World despite objections by Muslim clerics. frances@gdn.com.bh



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