A leading Islamic cultural institution has called on Egypt to ban the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster "Noah," based on the biblical figure, saying it offends Islamic law and the religion's prophets.
Al-Azhar, a main Sunni Muslim institute, issued a statement Thursday, saying it "prohibits the screening" of films that personify biblical figures, Al Arabiya reported.
The group explained that such films are “contrary to faith and to the fundamentals of the Islamic Sharia [law]" adding that they "provoke the feelings" of the faithful.
“Al-Azhar renews its rejection to the screening of any production that characterizes Allah’s prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet [Mohammed],” the statement read, according to Al Arabiya.
“Therefore, Al-Azhar announces the prohibition of the upcoming film about the Allah’s messenger Noah - peace be upon him.”
Paramount Pictures plans to release the film starring Russell Crowe Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson on March 26 in Egypt, and a day later in other countries in the region.
The film inspired by the story of Noah was directed by Darren Aronofsky – and has already drawn criticism from conservative Christians in the United States.
In an effort to appease religious critics, Paramount Pictures is adding a disclaimer to the film's marketing materials, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The "explanatory message," as Paramount calls it, will read: "The film 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. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."