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Film on Prophet Muhammad mired in controversy

An Iranian film on the Prophet Muhammad by acclaimed director Majid Majidi has been wrought with religious, financial and political issues.
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 23: (CHINA OUT) Iranian movie director Majid Majidi attends a Vision Beijing press conference on February 23, 2008 in Beijing, China. China authorities invited five world renowned film directors Giuseppe Tornatore of Italy, Majid Majidi of Iran, Patrice Leconte of France, Daryl Goodrich of Great Britain and Andrew Lau Wai-Keung of Hong Kong to make five of short films named Vision Beijing about Beijing and the people's preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games. (Photo by China Photos

TEHRAN, Iran — Thirty-three years after the famous Syrian film director Moustapha Akkad made a film about the life of the Prophet Muhammad, internationally acclaimed Iranian director Majid Majidi is bringing back the story of the prophet's life to the big screen. The pre-production process started in October 2007, and the first draft for the screenplay was ready in March 2009. The production team had predicted that by the end of winter 2013 the film would be ready. However, it appears that it will not be ready even by the end of winter 2014. This past summer, Majidi promised that the film would be ready and submitted to the 2015 Fajr International Film Festival, the most important film festival in Iran.

Even before its release, Majidi’s film on the prophet of Islam has already created controversy. There have been rumors that Majidi had planned to show Prophet Muhammad’s face in the film. The conservative clerics in Iran, and even in Egypt, are rather sensitive to the idea of venerated religious figures being visually depicted. For example, Ayatollah Sobhani, a Shiite Marja (source to imitate/follow), had already expressed his opinion on the depiction of the prophet and the infallible Shiite imams as follows: “Those people who are playing the role of one of the infallibles are not infallible themselves. Most certainly, they have many shortcomings. So how can they behave and speak as if they are one of these infallibles, and how can people observe them and try to learn from their manners and behavior?”

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