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August 15th, 2010
04:08 PM ET

Series on Jesus pulled from Lebanese TV after uproar

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Lebanon • Middle East • TV

soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. godspell555

    jesus was born of the holy spirit which is no race.he is every race

    August 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm |
    • M&M

      He was a man living on earth. He was not spirit therefore he had a race. It clearly states it in the Bible. Go and read it!

      August 15, 2010 at 8:25 pm |
  2. godspell555

    god is love i know god and jesus and the bible is real because i can see the things the bible says to be true and jesus said to turn the other cheek no other religion tells you to do that oh for all you out there who believe in eye for an eye tooth for a tooth that means what ever is done unto you allow god to deal unto them for vengeance is mine.in the end people will kill and believe they are doing gods service these are muslims they believe in there koran because it is impossible to believe in god they are blind the koran tells you that you can lie about being a muslim as long as there is fear of death well in god there is no fear and a lie is a lie it funny how it is ok to chicken out muslims should turn the other cheek but you cannot because the love of god is not in you anyone who denies that jesus is the son of god is an antichrist and the love of god is not in them to be of god is to be of love.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:20 pm |
    • Prometheus

      Talking "Smack" about the deeply held beliefs of another is NOT "turning the other cheek" You talked the talk, now try to "WALK-THE-WALK".

      Good journeys to you godspell555...

      August 15, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • M&M

      It would help to show your intelligence if you learned to write proper grammar.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
    • asrael

      I neveer realized God had such a dislike of punctuation...

      August 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
    • asrael

      Aaaargghh!! Make that "never"...

      August 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
  3. M&M

    Why re people on this thread calling others a liar? If you don't believe in what someone else believe, that's fine. But to call them a liar? Does freedom of speech work only when it's your turn? Even if it's a fantasy, let it be. Don't bust people's bubble. Be nice and just leave well enough alone.

    I will add my 2 cents though...they also got the race of Jesus wrong. He was not Caucasian/white. I know you wanna know how I know this if I've never seen him. Well, according the descriptions of Jesus in the Holy Bible, he was not a white man. This is not an argument for unbelievers.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:18 pm |
    • Prometheus

      I agree with your message of tolerance M & M. Also...I am the proverbial "Doubting Thomas" but God has a place for me and a plan for me. I will not venture an opinion as to the image of Jesus until he appears before me and I see with my own eyes. To me Jesus & Mohammad are 'every-man' meant not to divide us, but to unite us.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
    • christian

      There are curently 2 billion plus christians......1 billion muslems...1 plus billion hindus, and hundreds of millions of jews.....All of these people believe in God in fact over 95% percent of the planet believes in some form of representation of the ultimate creator....so this puts atheist and agnostics ect in the minority.......All I ever hear from a atheist is prove prove prove that god exist......I say unto the minority the Burden to prove him false falls to you.......And none of you can do that ...period....I respect the right for you to have your theories and so called scientific evidence which also is in short just a belief because none of you existed at the time of the creation of the universe either.......I have the same right to base my faith in religion....one day we shall all know......Untill then we are arguing a pointless conflict

      August 15, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Prometheus

      I agree that nobody on Earth can 'prove' that God does not exist, but in fairness nobody on Earth can prove he DOES exist either.

      While your argument is a valiant one in providing statistics of people who "believe" in God it is also deftly dodging the fact that an empirical fact does not require belief to be true. So no matter what 95% of the world "believes"...they are still in the same boat as those who used to 'believe' that the earth was flat, or that the solar system/Universe rotated around the Earth.

      As you say, one day the truth shall be known, but please don't espouse any conclusion regarding FACT upon what people BELIEVE. If, however you can PROVE the existence of God with empirical evidence....then I bow to you and acknowledge it as Truth/Fact. Until then, let people believe what they choose, as THAT is what God has challenged us with. Supply them with the gospel, but do not lead a fool by the nose, no more so than you would lead an evil person to their destruction in premeditation.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  4. Levi Grey

    This madness amongst Christians and Moslems is destroying our world. There is a better way. Do you or someone you know suffer from religious anxiety? You must read Balance today.

    http://www.readbalance.com/

    August 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • M&M

      You read your book and let religious people read theirs. Don't be dictator. Everyone believes in something. Even you...you believe in absolutely nothing.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • M&M

      Yep. You!

      August 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  5. Desert Lover

    Alain, don't preach religious freedom to America ... you paper tiger. You live amongst and share borders with the most oppressed people in the world. I seem to recall a little war you Lebanese folks held a few decades back - seemed to have something to do with religion.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
    • david b

      Islam is the religion of Satan.......... You are all going to hell and there will be no 72 virgins for any of you. I hope you all blow yourselves up playing with bombs and enjoy your dry dusty sandbox that you call home!

      August 16, 2010 at 2:28 am |
    • Alain

      American fool, your revolting and dying country could learn a hundred things about religious tolerance from the holy land of Lebanon. you on the other hand should learn something about geography and history and should read an article once in a while.
      If america, where everyday thousands of hate crimes take place , were home to half christian half muslim population it would already be history. In lebanon, not s single muslim vs christian ( or vice versa ) has taken place in years.
      so YES american, you can learn thousands of things pertaining to religious tolerance from the tiny country of lebanon.

      August 16, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  6. C.R.

    Don't believe? That's okay. It's not my job to judge, but do me this favor. Tonight before you go to bed pray that Jesus would come into your life. If this is to out there for you ask him to meet with you in your dreams. All he needs is the invited to be a part of your life. Seek after Him and you'll find Him. I pray that you would experience the love of Jesus.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
    • Carlos

      Okay, I tried that last night. I dreamed that Jesus came into my life. It was an amazing experience. I felt so silly for not having believed in his divinity. I felt like I was truly a fool for being an atheist. Then I woke up, and realized I was just dreaming.

      August 16, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  7. Prometheus

    I think that the mini-series should have been displayed regardless of the protest. I would also be very interested in seeing a mini-series of the same vein about Mohammad. Only by the free exchange of ideas and views may we find a middle-ground of tolerance. One side CANNOT dictate to the other what to believe or how to express that belief UNLESS it involves hate, violence, or destruction in the NAME of that belief.

    Doing violence removes the legitimacy of said religious faith. You may disagree vehemently with me Brother, but do not raise your hand to me in violence. Violence begets violence and that road is wide and slippery for both sides in such a conflict. Use dialogue and tolerance in lieu of the sword unless you are ready to accept that same sword at your children's neck in the pursuit of your cause.

    Violence is evil...period.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
    • Matt J.

      Prometheus, you are just being silly. You and your ilk have been led by the empty promise of this " middle-ground" through "free exchange of ideas" for how long? And you haven't yet noticed how it has failed?

      August 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  8. crazyvic50

    Religion, I told you before is crazy. In New York today is a huge debate about the build up of a mosque. That's an 'insane' debate. The law is clear and precise to allow 'freedom of religion' in America. President Obama is correct. The interpretation of the law is clear. Let the mosque be constructed, is Constitucional. Sorry, it is jthe law of the land.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm |
  9. Steve Consilvio

    Funny how those who claim to have a higher intelligence are sure there is not an intelligence higher than themselves. 🙂

    As far as the TV episode goes, it would have been better to leave it on. Free speech gives faith room to grow and learn. Be open to learning. Even in the Bible there is free speech. Let the mistaken speak their beliefs so they may be corrected if wrong, or so you may learn if you are wrong. Either way, free speech is a process necessary for revelation.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  10. crazyvic50

    I love Religions. All of them have God in common, but hate each others. Funny? Doesn't it, but is true. As a catholic I was tough that Jesus was the son of God. If you will ever attemp to 'discern' of that view, you were 'dead'. Today, I learned that we don't know where we come from, and that not all people in the World believe that Jesus is the son of God. I agree today with that view. Probably a 'Prophet', don't know, but a great man. I also learned that we love to 'kill each other' in the name of God. On Earth, I will like to behave 'like jesus' a great man, no doubt.

    August 15, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  11. Scott A

    Why should anyone be able to say there's a "misinterpretation" of Jesus? Nobody alive right now was around when he was alive, so who's to say what type of person he is? And don't say the Bible (because that's not a who).

    August 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  12. PJ

    This is totally contrary to the teaching of Jesus, who do these people think they are? They are not Christians, they are Fascists, deciding what someone else can do...

    August 15, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Well gee PJ, I think, they think, they are Muslim. Who do you think you are, deciding what someone else can do...?

      August 15, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • disodiumhydrophosphate

      @PJ
      Pot, meet kettle.

      @David Johnson
      Kettle, meet pot.

      August 16, 2010 at 12:47 am |
  13. Rhona

    I felt proud reading that Jesus story has been shown in a Lebanese TV, considering them a Muslim Nation. No matter how they depict Jesus life, a prophet or whatsoever. The fact thay they are curious about HIM, is a sign that there is something in Jesus that mistify man. Depicting Jesus as a prophet is for me to just misled the other religion so that they will not believe what He truly is, the Son of God.

    August 15, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Yes, yes, yes, Rhona. And your proof that Christianity worships the one true god is what? Let me guess: A book that was written by god that clearly says, that there is a god. And that feeling you get in your heart when you think about Jesus! Am I right?

      August 15, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • Kerbelai

      Why do you feel proud over something you had nothing to do with?

      August 15, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  14. Steven

    Why did they pull it? There's plenty of precedence for fiction on television.

    August 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm |
  15. dennis

    My myths are offended!

    August 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  16. Jamshed

    Maybe the Zionist Quran burning minister in Florida can learn something about the etiquettes of "free speech" from Hizbollah. They had the decency to pull the movie from their station because Christians felt offended. I wish Christians had the same common sense and decency in the U.S.

    August 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
    • Matt J.

      Jamshed, you have missed the point. If so many Muslims had not rejoiced when certain Muslims burned down two buildings with thousand of people in them, this minister would not have burned that one copy of the Quran.

      August 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  17. JC

    Hi Sheesh ... evidently you are no historian or archaeologist. You must "take everything " on what you have been spooned fed by others. Get in the game and study. I have given you a good mind. You can even begin with the highly respected first century historian Josephus who is non-biblical ... he references me. And if you do make your way to scripture, then know there is more evidence for the authenticity of the Hebrew writings and the gospels than any other writings of antiquity. The key is to open not only your mind, but also your heart. The famous English skeptic C.S. Lewis, after many years of investigation, said he came not to a place, or to a belief, but to a person – the person of Jesus Christ. Remember Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." – Jesus "I am" Christ

    August 15, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  18. luul

    OMG American ain't good @ Religious ..go and watch TV

    August 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
    • luul

      LOL WHAT

      August 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
    • Jiri

      Spock said it all – believing in god is illogical.. Get over it.

      August 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  19. TurkeyBurgers

    BEHEAD THOSE WHO PROCLAIM THERE TO BE WATER ON THE MOON!

    August 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
    • mahboobeh

      lol

      August 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • jiten

      Ok there is no water on the moon!

      August 16, 2010 at 2:29 am |
  20. Terry from west Texas

    God has never spoken to me, though I invited Him to do so many times. No one I know can see God, hear Him, touch Him, taste God, or smell Him. He does not seem to answer prayers. All of America prayed for the Gulf oil spill to be stopped but it was good old concrete, not divine intervention, that stopped the leak.

    For people to fight over how the life of Jesus should be properly represented on a TV program is silly because none of the disputants really knows what Jesus was like nor what He taught. I think that Jesus intended to bring the Roman rule of Israel to an end. He entered Jerusalem in a mock parade, intentionally fulfilling another prophecy, fully expecting God to come to earth and create His Kingdom on Earth. Jesus was stunned when he was summarily executed. So were His followers, who finally decided that Jesus planned to return from the dead in a few days or months and THEN God would establish His Kingdom. That got old after three centuries of waiting. Constantine needed a religion for the Roman Empire, so he adopted Christianity, ordered a Bible to be assembled, and suddenly Catholocism stopped waiting for Jesus and instead it regulated the orderly march of the saints from cradle to salvation to grave to everlasting life.

    Am I right or wrong? None of you know. I don't know. No one knows. The evidence for anything is very skimpy. Multiple interpretations are possible, though each of you reading this is like me – absolutely certain that he knows the truth about Jesus.

    We may as well argue and kill each other over how much water is on the moon. No one knows.

    August 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.