Three Arab countries have banned the biblical film epic Noah because it supposedly contradicts Islam, and officials across much of the Muslim world are expected to follow suit.
Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates told Hollywood giant Paramount last week that the film, starring Russell Crowe, would not be released in their countries. Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to follow suit. Officials in Pakistan, Tunisia and Morocco also expressed doubts that the movie will be released in their countries.
The film was due to open in Egypt on March 26 and in the UAE on March 27. But a Paramount spokesman said: "The censors for Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE officially confirmed the film will not release in their countries. The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because 'it contradicts the teachings of Islam'."
Egypt's top Islamic body, the Al-Azhar Institute, said last week that the big-budget film violated the tenets of Islam by portraying a prophet and should not be screened in the country.
Having an actor play a prophet "contradicts the stature of prophets and messengers ... and antagonises the faithful", it said in a statement. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet and was not crucified.
Egypt has censored other movies in the past, including The Da Vinci Code, after protests from the Orthodox Coptic Church.
But it did allow the screening of Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ, which depicts Jesus being crucified.
Noah has already angered some Christian institutions in the US because of Crowe's reportedly unconventional portrayal of the character.
Last month, Paramount announced that it would add an explanatory message to future marketing materials for the movie by director Darren Aronofsky. It issued a joint statement with the US National Religious Broadcasters body, announcing the move "to help audiences better understand that the feature film is a dramatisation of the major scriptural themes and not a line-by-line retelling of the Bible story".