The Hollywood movie Noah has been banned on religious grounds in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates ahead of its worldwide premiere.
Noah, which retells the story of the great flood from the Book of Genesis, was banned because it "contradicts the teachings of Islam," a representative of Paramount Pictures told Reuters. The $125 million film stars Russell Crow and Anthony Hopkins and is due to premiere in the United States on March 28.
The highest religious authority in Sunni Islam, Cairo's Al-Azhar, issued a religious injunction against the film on Thursday, saying it rejected the depiction of messengers and prophets of God.
Islamic religious stricture opposes representing holy figures in art, and pictorial depictions of the Prophet Mohammad in the West have sparked rage throughout the Muslim world, from the Danish cartoon in 2006 that led to riots in the region to a 2012 amateur Youtube video that fueled the deadly attacks in Benghazi on the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Several other Arab countries including Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait are also expected to ban the film.