Al-Azhar Tries to Halt Film Portraying Prophet Mohammed

A leading Islamic institution in Egypt has strongly objected to the release of Iranian director Majid Majidi’s controversial new film Mohammed, which depicts the life of the Prophet as a child. The director insists that people see the film, to be released this summer, before judging it, writes Mohammed Khoder.

al-monitor Egyptians walk inside al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo July 13, 2006. Photo by REUTERS/Suhaib Salem.

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mohammed film, mehdi pakdel, majid majidi, al-azhar

Apr 25, 2012

Iranian director Majid Majidi will resume filming his controversial movie Mohammed, which portrays the life of the Prophet Mohammed for the first time. Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy recently issued a statement hoping to preempt the movie’s release.

“We demand that Iran refrain from releasing the movie, so that an  undistorted image of the Prophet can be preserved in the minds of Muslims. We call upon all filmmakers to respect religions and Prophets,” said the statement.

In the same context, Al-Azhar objected to a television series entitled Hassan, Hussein and Muawiya, which was broadcast during the month of Ramadan. Three Arab actors portrayed the lives of the three characters. However, at that time, Al-Azhar did not have the authority to prevent the series from being broadcasted, even on the Egyptian satellite channels.

It has been reported that director Majid Majidi nominated Iranian actor Mehdi Pakdel from Isfahan to portray the Prophet Mohammed. However, other directors are likely to nominate Pakdel to portray Abi Talib, the father of the Imam Ali. Pakdel refused to comment on the subject, as did Majidi, who is trying to keep his movie in complete secrecy to prevent further objections against it. Majidi simply said that he “wanted to shed light on Arab society during that era of history, and on the childhood and youth of the Holy Prophet. We only seek to present the Prophet, peace be upon him, in his best image for his nation and other nations.”

The director expressed his disappointment at the unsuitable conditions for shooting in Mecca and Medina, and he was forced to replace the two cities with the Iranian cities of Kerman and Nur. Sixty-five authentic houses were constructed in those Iranian cities.

“Mohammad” is scheduled to be released during the summer, dubbed into Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Majidi requested that everyone see his work before judging it.

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