Officials across much of the Muslim world said Thursday that the upcoming big-budget Hollywood film Noah, featuring Russell Crowe
as the ark-building prophet will not be shown in local theaters because it could offend viewers.
The decision comes after the film sparked controversy among conservative Christians in the US, which prompted Paramount Pictures to add a disclaimer to its marketing material saying that "artistic license has been taken" in telling the story.
Director of media content at the National Media Center in the United Arab Emirates, Juma Al-Leem, said that the movie will not be allowed in local cinemas because it contradicts a generally held taboo in Islam of depicting a prophet.
"There are scenes that contradict Islam and the Bible, so we decided not to show it," he said, adding that UAE censors watched the film before deciding to ban it. "It is important to respect these religions and not show the film."
Paramount Pictures said that along with the UAE, censors in Qatar and Bahrain also have confirmed they will not release the film because "it contradicts the teachings of Islam."
One of Islam's most revered religious institutions, Al-Azhar in Egypt, issued an edict saying it objects to the film because it violates Islamic law by depicting a prophet and that this could "provoke the feelings of believers."
Among Muslims, depictions of any prophets are shunned to avoid worship of a person rather than God. Many Muslim majority countries also criminalize blasphemy.