“The Passion of the Christ” stirs religious controversy in Kuwait
A religious scholar in Kuwait issued a fatwa demanding the banning of the film “The Passion of the Christ”, by Mel Gibson from being screened in the Islamic world, in addition to prohibiting Muslims from watching it, saying anyone who has seen the movie must “repent”.
Mohammed al-Tabatabai, who heads the oil-rich Arab kingdom's Sharia (Islamic jurisprudence) College, said Mel Gibson's film hurts religious feelings of the Muslims. “It is based on fictitious material and shows a man acting as Jesus. Both negate Islamic beliefs,” said Tabatabai.
The Muslims regard Jesus as one of the three great prophets of god, along with Mohammed and Moses, and consider it a sin to mimic them. They also consider it a sin to concoct information about a prophet for making a film or a play. Some Christian and Jewish religious groups also oppose the film.
Gibson's film has stirred a religious controversy in Kuwait between majority Sunni Muslims who oppose the movie and the emirate's Shi'ite Muslims who call for showing it. The authorities, meanwhile, have not decided either way. Tabtabai went so far as to outlaw the film's screening by any Muslim country and But the emirate's leading Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Muhri said there was nothing wrong in showing the film and called on the authorities to approve it.
According to the news agency AFP, it was argued that the film is a good opportunity to reveal the crimes committed by Jews against the Christ and many other (religious) prophets. “We sincerely respect the Jewish religion and Jews, but not the Jewish Zionists, and we believe in Jesus and Moses like we believe in our own prophet,” he added.
Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet like the Prophet Mohammad but, contrary to Christians, they believe God saved him from crucifixion. They also believe Jesus will return to earth before the Day of Judgment to guide the faithful.
Kuwait, where the information ministry must censor all forms of art production, has not yet decided whether to publicly screen the film or not. Kuwaiti law bars scenes or images depicting prophets, Muslim caliphs and revered figures.
Several Arab countries, including the Gulf Arab states of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, have already given the film the green light. The state national cinema company, which has a monopoly over all cinemas in Kuwait, has not purchased the film and is apparently waiting for a decision from the information ministry.
The movie, which depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life in often graphic and brutal detail, has drawn a storm of criticism as it reaches cinemas worldwide after its release in the United States. Gibson's film, shot in Latin and Aramaic using little-known actors, has been a huge box-office hit in North America. –Albawaba.com
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)