Cairo, Egypt, Mar 23, 2006 / 22:00 pm
Muslims are expressing their opposition to plans by an Egyptian Orthodox Christian to make the first movie in Arabic about Jesus, who Islam considers to be a prophet. They argue that it would be a violation of their faith, which prohibits depictions of Allah and the prophets.
“In order for this movie to be made, our position is that the image of the prophet (Jesus) not appear, for it would be impossible to find an actor who could play him, no matter how perfect his work is,” prominent Muslim leader Mohammed Habib told the EFE news agency.
Some have suggested that filmmakers request authorization from Al Azhar, the most prestigious institution of Sunni Islam, which issues judgments about works of art that have to do with religion.
Abdel Moti Bayumi, a member of the Academy of Islamic Studies of Al Azhar, said the prophets cannot be portrayed “because that reduces their value in the human imagination,” and he pointed to recent Al Azhar fatwas on the issue. “Muslims hate seeing Jesus represented in human form and especially if they show him in moments of weakness."
"Al Azhar has already given its opinion, and whoever does not respect it will have to answer to God,” Bayumi said.
The screenwriter of the film, Fayez Ghali, said Al Azhar “has nothing to do with my film. That the depiction of the prophets is forbidden is an issue for our Muslim brothers, not for me.” “I am following my Orthodox Christian teaching. No human being ought to prohibit the movie, whether it’s Al Azhar, the church or even the state,” he added.
He also said that preventing the film “would be a historic catastrophe, as it would be understood as an imposition of their power on the Church.” Ghali argued that those seeking the approval of Al Azhar for his film “are radicals who are playing with fire.”
While Ghali said he was not opposed to having a Muslim play the role of Christ, the film’s producer, Mohammed Uchub, who is Muslim, said he would impose the sole condition that the role be given to an unknown Christian actor.