Iranian Censors Approve Screening of Gibson's 'The Passion'

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's censors have approved the screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" in the Persian state's cinemas, the official news agency reported Wednesday.

A committee of clerics and officials within Iran's Islamic Cultural and Guidance Ministry unanimously decided Tuesday to let the film be played in its entirety, with Persian language subtitles, the agency said.

The state-owned Farabi Cinema Foundation, which is in charge of foreign movies, bought a copy of Gibson's controversial film in February and has negotiated with theater owners to screen it in May, the agency added.

Iran, a predominantly Shiite Muslim state, is allowing the screening of the film despite strong Islamic objections, particularly from Sunni Muslims, to the depiction of religious prophets in any form.

In Kuwait, senior Shiites have called for the movie's screening because, as one cleric said, it "reveals crimes committed by Jews against Christ."

Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and several other Islamic countries have already approved the screening of the movie directed by Gibson, who has been accused in the West of reviving the Jews-killed-Christ claim that has stoked anti-Semitism through the ages.

Iran and Israel are arch foes and Tehran cut its diplomatic and trade relations with the Jewish state following the Iranian revolution in 1979.