Russell Crowe's Noah Banned In Arab Countries
Russell Crowe's epic £75m ($125m) film Noah has been banned in three Arab countries on religious grounds.
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 is dedicated to him in the Koran.
Islam objects to the depiction of any messengers and prophets of Mohammed in art and European and North American media have repeatedly sparked protests in Islamic countries over the last decade.
The National Media Council (NMC), the UAE body responsible for approving films, said the Noah, directed by Black Swan's Darren Aronofsky,"conflicts with (many) religions".
"Out of respect for these religious sentiments, we are banning the film," said Juma Obaid al Leem, director of the Media Content Tracking Department at the NMC.
"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 official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam'," the representative said, adding the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.
The film also stars Emma Watson, Nick Nolte and Ray Winstone.
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.
In an effort to ease tensions among religious critics, Paramount Pictures is adding a disclaimer to marketing materials for Noah.
"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 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.