Beirut: Two Lebanese television networks
were banned on Friday from showing an Iranian-made biopic on the
life of Jesus Christ, officials said after the film sparked
outrage among the country`s Christians.
"General Security has requested the two Lebanese
television channels airing the series during the holy month of
Ramadan stop the broadcasts," the official who requested
anonymity said to a news agency.
"The Messiah" was originally released in Iran as a big
screen movie in the Islamic republic in 2008.
It was subsequently adapted to television as a series
that was dubbed into Arabic and began airing on Lebanon`s NBN
and Al-Manar television channels after the start this week of
Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.
NBN and Al-Manar, run respectively by Shiite speaker
Nabih Berri and Hezbollah, immediately issued statements
saying the film would no longer be screened.
Christian Maronite Archbishop Beshara al-Rai had
requested the series be banned as it "denied the basis of
Christians believe Jesus was the son of God and died by
crucifixion before resurrecting and ascending to heaven.
But Muslims say Christ, or "the prophet Issa" in Islam,
ascended to heaven while still alive, a notion which is made
clear in the series.
"In the Quran it talks about Jesus many, many times, and
about Mary many, many times," director Nader Talebzadeh said
in an interview to CNN in 2008, when the original movie was
"But he is never the son of God, he is a prophet, and
also he was not crucified -- someone else was crucified in his
place," he added.
Talebzadeh`s biopic shows Judas Iscariot being crucified
instead of Jesus.