Three Gulf countries sink ‘Noah’ before movie’s launch

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Three Persian Gulf nations have cited anti-Islamic content for banning the Hollywood big budget movie “Noah,” which opens this month in the U.S.

Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have banned the film because it “contradicts the teachings of Islam,” a spokesman for film distributor Paramount Pictures confirmed to Reuters news agency.

In the Islamic faith, Noah is seen as a prophet who God, or Allah, directed to build an enormous ark and fill it with animals to ride out a flood that would wipe out evil in the world.

The bans join a fatwa, or legal opinion, condemning the movie for its portrayal of sacred religious figures issued last week by Al-Azhar University, the world’s primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning.

The film has received criticism from other outlets, including the National Religious Broadcasters, which lobbied for a disclaimer in the movie’s marketing materials stating it 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.”

Directed by Darren Aronofsky, “Noah” casts Russell Crowe in the title role and features Sir Anthony Hopkins. It boasts a $130 million budget and is scheduled to open March 28.

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