Reuters

CAIRO-Three Arab countries have banned the Hollywood film "Noah" on religious grounds even before its worldwide premiere and several others are expected to follow suit, a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters on Saturday.
"Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries," a representative of Paramount Pictures, which produced the $125 million film starring Oscar-winners Russell Crowe and 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 will premiere in the United States on March 28. Cairo's Al-Azhar, a main centre of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday.
"Al-Azhar renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet," it announced in a statement. They "provoke the feelings of believers and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law," the fatwa added.
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.
Jerry A Johnson, president of a conservative National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) group, said last month he wanted to "make sure everyone who sees this impactful film knows this is an imaginative interpretation of Scripture, and not literal."
Paramount responded by agreeing to issue a disclaimer on advertising for the film. "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 advisory reads.