August 15th, 2010
04:08 PM ET
CNN producer Amir Ahmed filed this report:
An Iranian-made television series about the life of Jesus Christ stopped broadcasting Friday on Hezbollah-linked Lebanese stations after Christians complained that the series “misrepresented” Jesus, the state-run Lebanese News Agency reported.
The biopic portrayed the Muslim view of Jesus as a prophet, while Christians generally regard him as the son of God. Some Sunni Muslims also objected to the Iranian series because it showed someone playing the role of Jesus; Most Sunnis prohibit representation of prophets.
Christian groups held a sit-in at Beirut’s Catholic Center on Friday and denounced the broadcast of the TV series "The Messiah" on al-Manar and NBN channels, NNA reported.
In response to the “objecting voices of popular delegations,” both stations announced in a statement their decision to stop broadcasting the show on Friday, saying they wanted to prevent “any attempt at employing the show to serve some negative aims.”
NNA reported that al-Manar’s Information Committee Head and parliamentarian Hassan Fadlallah decided to stop the series from airing on Thursday, but did not make it public until Friday.
The news agency added that al-Manar consulted with parliamentarian Hassan Fadlallah on the decision and reportd the channel decided to pull the series “in spite of the fact that it underwent general security and religious authorities' control with no objection to the content.”
The reaction to airing the controversial show was “mainly due to the discrepancy between the script and the story of Jesus Christ as accepted by the Catholic Church,” the news agency reported.
"The Messiah" was originally released in Iran as a big screen movie in Iran in 2008. It was later adapted for television as a series and dubbed into Arabic to air last week during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The controversy enraged some Lebanese Christians, causing a political uproar that had Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri spending hours contacting various parties in “a bid for tranquilly, the government-run news agency reported.
Religious tensions are common in Lebanon, with various Christian and Muslim groups vieing for power in the country’s political and social establishments.
View a clip of the series here.
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