Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, citing historical inaccuracies, the culture minister said on Friday. The decision comes a day after a similar move by Morocco.
The film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale, relates how Moses helped Israelite slaves flee persecution in Egypt under the Pharaoh Ramses by parting the Red Sea to let them cross safely. The Egyptian culture minister, Gaber Asfour, said the film was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that “Moses and the Jews built the pyramids”.
“This totally contradicts proven historical facts,” Asfour said.
“It is a Zionist film,” he said. “It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that’s why we have decided to ban it.”
The ban was decided by a committee comprising the head of the supreme council for culture, Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee and two history professors, Asfour said.
Afifi said he took issue with the scene showing the parting of the Red Sea in which Moses – a prophet revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike – is seen holding a “sword” like a warrior, instead of a “stick”. Furthermore, he said, the parting of the Red Sea was explained in the movie as a “tidal phenomenon” rather than a divine miracle.
Morocco has also banned the film, despite it having been approved by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Centre, media reported on Thursday, quoting theatre managers. Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, told media24 news website that he had been threatened with the closure of his business if he ignored the ban.
“They phoned and threatened they would shut down the theatre if I did not take the film off the schedule,” Belkady said.
In March, Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic body, banned the screening of Noah, starring Russell Crowe, another Hollywood biblical epic, saying it violated Islam by portraying a prophet. The film triggered controversy in the US, where some Christian institutions criticised Crowe’s unconventional portrayal of Noah.
Exodus has also sparked unkind reviews and upset some Christian groups, with critics saying Scott took too many liberties with the Bible and cast western actors in middle-eastern roles.
Egypt has censored other movies, including the blockbuster The Da Vinci Code after protests from the Orthodox Coptic Church. But it did allow the screening of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.
Source: The Guardian