Russell Crowe’s epic £75m film Noah has been banned in Qatar, Bahrain and UAE on religious grounds, saying it ‘contradicts the teachings of Islam’. Several other countries are expected to follow them. 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 Christianity. He is also considered a holy messenger in the Koran.
Islam objects to the representing any messengers and prophets of Mohammed in art. Instead, the walls of mosques are decorated with line patterns and lettering. An entire chapter is dedicated to Noah in the Koran.
Cairo’s al Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam and a main centre of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film last week. “Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries,” a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125m film starring Oscar-winners Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Sir Anthony Hopkins, told Reuters.
The film also stars Emma Watson (Harry Potter star), Nick Nolte and Ray Winstone.
In an effort to ease tensions among religious critics, Paramount Pictures is adding a disclaimer to marketing materials for 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 message will read before every screening. Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ on Jesus’s crucifixion was widely screened in the Arab World, despite a flurry of objections by Muslim clerics.
Noah’s premiere is due to be held in the US on March 28. It is expected to be released in the UK on April 4.