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Arab Allies Ban ‘Noah;’ Will Obama Denounce Religious Intolerance?

Russell Crowe plays Noah, in a move based on the great flood from the Book of Genesis. The film is banned in at least six Arab countries.

Russell Crowe plays Noah, in a move based on the great flood from the Book of Genesis. The film is banned in at least six Arab countries.

Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, three key U.S. allies in the Middle East, have all banned the upcoming Biblical film “Noah,” without drawing any rebuke from the Obama Administration for religious intolerance.

The countries, which are all Muslim dominated, have outlawed the film, claiming “it contradicts the teachings of Islam,” according to Reuters.

At least three other Arab countries Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait are expected to follow suit.

In Cairo, the Al-Azhar mosque, Sunni Islam’s highest authority and a center of Islamic teaching, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday (Feb. 6).

“Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries,” a Paramount Pictures rep told the British news service.

The United States has provided oil-poor Bahrain with more than $1 billion in military assistance and training since 2000, according to the government.

The United States is Qatar’s largest foreign investor and its single largest source of imports, although the U.S. does not provide direct assistance to the tiny Arab nation, according to the U.S. State Department.

The same can’t be said for Egypt or Jordan. Congress in January authorized the president to give more than $.15 billion to Egypt to prop up its anti-Islamist military government, even though it refuses to allow a referendum on the nation’s future.

The president last month also announced that the United States would guarantee $1 billion in loans to help keep Jordan’s wavering economy afloat, according to The New York Times. Jordan is facing a refugee crisis from the Syrian civil war.

The ban shows a growing trend toward religious intolerance among U.S. allies in the Gulf region. In 2004, Mel Gibson’s controversial film, “The Passion of the Christ,” depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, was widely shown in Arab counties, even though some clerics opposed it.

Ironically, “Noah,” is drawn from the Bible’s Book of Genesis, part of the Old Testament that is generally embraced by Islam. The religion recognizes all of the Bible’s prophets, including Jesus.

In fact, Islam recognizes Noah as one of God’s preferred messengers, along with Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, according to religious teachings.

The upshot is there are no religious grounds to ban the film. The move seems to be purely a reaction to the film’s Western origin, i.e. from the United States. As such, it’s a clear sign of growing religious intolerance.

That seems to beg a response from the Obama administration. But so far, silence.

The film stars Russell Crowe, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Ray Winstone and Emma Watson. It hits U.S. theaters on Mar. 28.

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