Bahrain loses The Passion

First it was Big Brother, now, Mel Gibson’s the Passion of Christ has been banned from appearing in Bahraini cinemas.

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By  John Irish Published  April 1, 2004

Cinema enthusiasts in Bahrain will not be able to see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ after the Ministry of Information banned the film from the Kingdom’s cinemas. Officials at the Ministry informed the Bahrain Daily Tribune of the decision not to screen the Hollywood blockbuster on the grounds it depicted the Prophet Isa (Jesus). The ministry’s censorship board claimed the film, which graphically illustrates the Prophet’s last hours, would not air, as “depicting prophets would humiliate their noble and dignified status by showing them in the form of an actor that could play various roles, good or bad, in various films.” The ruling will also stop the film’s release on DVD or VHS. The move to ban the film follows last month's decision to take the popular reality TV show Big Brother off air after protests in the Kingdom over the programme’s ‘Un-Islamic nature.’ Bahrain becomes the second GCC nation to ban the film following Kuwait. However, although the film was banned for the same reasons, prominent Shi’ite figures in Kuwait have asked for the ban to be lifted. "We demand the Information Ministry to allow the film 'The Passion of The Christ', peace be upon him, to expose the role of the Jews, the killers of prophets," Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer Al Mohri told Reuters News Agency. The film’s initial global release sparked controversy, particularly among Jewish circles. Many fear that Mel Gibson’s representation of Jesus’ last 12 hours will stir up anti-Semitism by suggesting the prophet’s torture and crucifixion was down to the Jews. Elsewhere across the Middle East, the publicity surrounding the film has drawn large crowds with cinemas in Qatar, Lebanon, Syria and most recently the UAE all showing uncut versions of The Passion.

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