Indonesian censor bans Hollywood's biblical epic

Indonesian censor bans Hollywood's biblical epic

Following the lead from some Middle Eastern countries, the Film Censorship Institute (LSF) has decided to ban Hollywood's retelling of the biblical tale, Noah, deeming it too controversial based on religious grounds.

LSF chairman Mukhlis Paeni said that the institute's members considered several elements in the film contradicted basic teachings in the Islamic holy book, the Quran.

"Almost all Muslim countries have decided to ban the film. We, too, found elements in the story that contradicted the holy book, so we have decided to prohibit the screening of the film," Mukhlis said on Monday.

When pressed by The Jakarta Post to say which parts of the movie contradicted the Quran, Mukhlis merely said: "We are just following what other Middle Eastern countries have done."

Mukhlis said the LSF was concerned that the film could cause problems if it was given the go-ahead. "We are worried that violent protests could occur," he said.

With this decision, the LSF has also banned the distribution of Noah in all physical formats, such as DVDs and VCDs, as well as Internet downloads.

"People can go abroad to watch the film," he said.

As for preventing pirated versions of the movie, Mukhlis said that was under the purview of the National Police.

Unconfirmed reports also claim that the LSF is ready to slap a ban on Son of God, another Hollywood retelling of the Bible.

However, Mukhlis said the LSF had yet to issue a decision on the film, which tells the story of the life of Jesus.

Censorship boards in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have informed Paramount Pictures, which released Noah, that they will not be screening the film.

Paramount expects Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait to also ban the film.

In Egypt, leading Sunni Muslim institute Al-Azhar said it rejected the screening of any production that characterized Allah's prophets, messengers or companions of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Egypt, the film has also come under fire from several church leaders for its dark portrayal of Noah, played by Russell Crowe.

Contacted separately, Dian Sunardi Munaf, marketing director for PT Graha Layar Prima, the company that operates the Blitzmegaplex cinema chain, confirmed that the firm had received instructions from the LSF not to screen Noah.

"The latest information I have is that Blitzmegaplex is not going to screen the movie. That's all I can tell you," she said.

Dian added, however, that the release of Son of God remained on schedule for April 28. "We haven't received any letter from the LSF about Son of God," she said.

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