April 6th, 2004


Gibson's 'The Passion' a Hit Among Arabs

By NADIA ABOU EL-MAGD, Associated Press Writer

April 4 2004, 11:35 PM CDT

CAIRO, Egypt -- Hanan Nsour, a veiled, 21-year-old Muslim in Jordan, came out of "The Passion of the Christ" in tears and pronounced her verdict: Mel Gibson's crucifixion epic "unmasked the Jews' lies and I hope that everybody, everywhere, turns against the Jews."
The Quran, though, says Jesus's crucifixion never happened.
Such are the contradictions that are welling up as the Arab world deals with "The Passion," even as the film draws large audiences in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries that have approved it for screening.
In the Arab world, openly voiced anti-Semitism -- and by extension the warm reception for "The Passion" -- is bound up in the Arab conflict with Israel. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, after watching the film at his compound in the West Bank, was quoted by an aide as likening Jesus' suffering to the Palestinians'.
When the 1998 animated movie "Prince of Egypt" reached Cairo, censors banned it. One reason given: Islam reveres Moses as a prophet, and many Muslims recoil at seeing their prophets portrayed as flesh-and-blood characters.
Jesus is also a prophet to the Muslims, yet "The Passion" was OK'd by Egypt's censors with no changes. They have not explained why "The Passion" was allowed...