By PAUL SCHEMM
RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco has banned Ridley Scott’s biblical epic “Exodus,” provoking an angry response by politicians and filmmakers in this North African country.
Morocco’s film commission issued a letter to all cinemas on Saturday, notifying them that the film, which portrays the story of Moses, has been banned for possibly portraying God in the scene of Moses’ revelation.
Islam and Morocco law both forbid the public display of images of God.
The movie has already been banned in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
However, a party in Morocco’s governing coalition has criticized the ban as “incomprehensible,” especially to a film industry that is important to Morocco. Morocco is a major destination for foreign movies.
“There should have been a more intelligent handling of this affair in a way that didn’t damage the image of the kingdom and preserves the freedom of creation and art,” the Progressive Socialist Party said in a statement that appeared in the press on Wednesday.
Morocco’s governing coalition is led by an Islamist party, though most power resides with the king.
The country’s organization of filmmakers also criticized the ban, calling it “ridiculous and irrational.”
“This decision risks discouraging film investment in our country and sending foreign productions to other destinations,” Abderrahman Tazi, the group’s chief, said in a statement issued Tuesday.
The Moroccan Cinema Commission’s decision to ban “Exodus” involved a scene in which a child, which could be interpreted as representing God, speaks to Moses.
The commission had originally authorized the film, but its leader, Sarim Fassi-Fihri, said a representative of the Communications Ministry had objections. After a second viewing, the panel banned the movie.
Minister of Communication Mustapha Khalfi confirmed that his ministry that raised objections to the film.
“All members of the commission made this decision and it has nothing to do with the freedom of expression,” he told The Associated Press.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.