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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. Jose

    At least they show the sensitivity towards other religious groups in their country. In America being Muslim is quickly being viewed as a crime in many areas.

    August 15, 2010 at 9:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jose

      You said, "At least they show the sensitivity towards other religious groups in their country. In America being Muslim is quickly being viewed as a crime in many areas."

      You are right. Religion should not be viewed as a crime. It should be viewed as an ugly joke.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
  2. HughMungus

    Keith ....what prophecies are you talking about.......none have come true....there is no such thing as prophecies.......

    August 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
    • Keith

      Hugh, I tried to give you a simple, yet detailed example but the moderator won't post it. Why don't you ask them to post the prophecy of Tyre in Ezekiel 26.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • Matt J.

      He says 500 out of 1000 have come true, you say 'none'. Guess who has more credibility. Hint: it isn't you.

      August 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  3. In America

    Religion is for the poor and the weakminded... gotta love how people created these 'gods' and 'prophets' to control and conquer. Kill them in the name of >Insert Diety here<. Religion is what creates wars, hate, suffering... all in the name of a 'god' or 'prophet'. The faster we blow this world up, the better off we will be. Maybe the decaying bodies will provide life for more intelligent creatures...

    August 15, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  4. HughMungus

    Time to get our tin foil hats on....here come the buy bull thumpers......

    August 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm |
  5. Keith

    There are approximately 1,000 prophecies in the Bible of which 500 have been literally fulfilled-sounds like pretty convincing evidence to me.

    August 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • 21k

      the old testament didn't help an awful lot of people during the late 1930's in europe. or was that one of these twisted prophecies too?

      August 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  6. Pragmatic885

    See what happens when you try and make a show that is supposed to appeal to the most ignorant groups in the world? How can you expect a bunch of people who all believe in different fairy tales to agree on any sort of realistic spin on it?

    August 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  7. HughMungus

    God is love....LOL...please.....
    The human mind can not comprehend anything .......

    Posit...
    God=

    It the same thing if you were to pull off the high way and see an ant hill....you can look down at them...the can look up at you...but there would be no connection.....
    Tiny humans....tiny ants....
    I am a jew...I am a christian...I am a mudlum.....would everybody just shut the hell up......
    I am so sick of this religious crap....It has done nothing to better man...all it does is cause conflict...and no one has any facts...the buy bull and the ku ran and the jews talmud....all crap from the bronze age......
    When are we gonna look at one another and realize it's just us....and we need to help one another and get along....we have one shot at this life....and we need to care and help one another.....these ass backward religions.....seperate and divide...
    We need to destroy all religion and come together and a people.....
    When I hear anything about religion....I wanna throw up..

    Like Bill and Ted said...."Just be Excellent to one another"......who needs a religious book to make that clear.....
    EVERYONE BE F*@%$ EXCELLENT TO ONE ANOTHER.....HOW FRICKN HARD IS THAT....???????

    August 15, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • Levi Grey

      If you like Bill and Ted, you will like Balance. It envisions a future not unlike the future in the Bill and Ted movie. 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. Written by a pastor.

      http://www.readbalance.com/

      August 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
    • 21k

      better yet, read something by darwin.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
  8. Dennis

    Jesus is either who he claimed to be and did what he claimed to do seeing he was at one point "in the flesh" or it's the greatest lie history has ever recorded. You need to ask yourself a simple question? What do I have to loose to believe in Him? Just think...what if the story is true? What will you loose? The one thing that amazes me is how all the other religions appeared to come on the seen AFTER the story of Christ and how closely their story is to the story of Christ and others in the Christian Bible.

    August 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • 21k

      i think they call it copying. do some reading on how the bible follows the story lines of even more ancient "pagan" religions. and by the way, what you have to lose is your self-determination. you end up living your life by rules set down by folks like ted haggard, david koresh, taliban imams, warren jeffs, etc.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
    • Dennis

      Yep 21k...you are exactly right. That's what you get when you follow the man and not the Master.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm |
    • 21k

      never mind dennis, sounds like you've got a belly full of the kool-aid. good luck with all that stuff.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
  9. 21k

    i admit there are things i won't ever know. scientists won't figure out the origin of life on earth in my lifetime. but that doesn't mean i should chalk it up to one of many made-up supreme-beings.

    August 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
  10. mrrealtime

    in other news, the invisible purple fairy worshipers are split over the exact height of purple fairies. Wars have broken out over the purple fairy scriptures that claim they are 6" tall, while many so called "new fairyists" claim that in fact, the invisible purple fairies are 6.5" tall. Their citizens continue to starve while the religious leaders spend all their resources on the debate.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  11. Keith

    The funny thing is is that the muslims recognize Jesus, but only as a prophet. In Jahih Muslim Book 041, Number 7015, Allah sends Jesus back to earth in Damascus. The Bible has numerous references to Him returning to Jerusalem. Isaiah 17:1 says, "The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." According to the Bible, this happens BEFORE Jesus returns to the earth. He can't come back to a city that doesn't exist. If Damascus gets nuked or otherwise destroyed many muslims will be left scratching their heads in bewilderment. At that point they need to discard their muslim faith and seek the Lord through His Son Jesus Christ. Clearly, only one can be correct.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  12. jujubees

    sky cake!

    August 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  13. Darlene

    You, Temperamant, have my total respect! You are the first athiest I have seen on all these blogs of this nature. that have expressed yourself in a kind and civil manner. Hats off to you!!
    You certainly have lifted my human spirit, and yes, I am a Christian. I appreciate that we can talk as human beings, even if we do not agree on all things, just some. Your post was beautifully stated.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
    • Temperament

      Thank you, to those who replied to my post.

      Yes, I am an atheist, but I believe all religions point the path to truth. Whether you are Buddhist, Native American, or Christian or Muslin, is immaterial. I respect your beliefs, and will honor them so long as you respect mine.

      I have not always been this way. There was a time when I despised Christianity and Catholicism. But the day I took Communion, I realized the error of my ways. I was "told," whether you believe it to be Christ, God, or my own conscience, that this was not my path ... that I had other things I needed to do, and they would be difficult if not impossible for me to accomplish. I accepted my fate, and have lived every day of my life trying to make up for all the wrongs that I have done. If this was God talking to me, then perhaps he has given me a path that is different than others. If it was my own conscience, then perhaps it was a way of telling myself that hate, in any form, is counter-intuitive. It destroys more than it creates. Or perhaps it was a combination of both. I'm not so conceited as to know the truth of the origin of the "path." That's something beyond myself.

      I no longer hate "organized' religion. I am only saddened by those who would stifle dissent.

      I would have liked to have met Jesus, if he truly existed. Just as I would have liked to have met Mohammed and the Buddha. If only to pick their brains for a short while, and to understand why they believed in what they did. I would hope, on some humble level, that they would have said the same about me.

      Bottom line is that the world doesn't need religious zealots dictating what is and isn't right. What it needs are people willing to sacrifice all they care about for the prosperity of humanity ... to ensure our children have a world in which to live free of the evils which each and every one of us have to deal with on a daily basis.

      I will sacrifice my life for my child. I will sacrifice my life for the woman or man on the street corner getting mugged. But I will not sacrifice my life for someone stating that his religion is the correct one. We are all equal in this respect, whether you are Christian or Catholic or Muslim.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
    • 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. Written by a pastor.

      http://www.readbalance.com/

      August 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  14. Kerbelai

    If you believe in a god, then you are not an atheist. You sound more like an agnostic to me.
    If you admit that there are things we don't know and might never know – I can respect that sort of rational thinking.
    My problem with the hard-line atheist viewpoint is that proving the nonexistence of a god-like being is just as ridiculous as the hard-line deist viewpoint. Ignorance wins again.
    Good post anyway. Stand up for yourself and you'll always have at least one person standing up for you.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • Kerbelai

      The above post was in reply to Temperament's post.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Temperament

      Kerbetai,

      Thank you for your kind response. Many have called me agnostic, and I do not deny that my beliefs perhaps fall in line with that definition. I call myself an atheist simply because I do not believe in a "god" described in any known religious work. My beliefs fall most closely in line with those of Native Americans and Buddhists (it's interesting that a Buddhist can be both a Christian AND a Buddhist), but even at that I still have doubts. Call me Thomas, if you will :).

      I just feel this world is so much full of hate an intolerance that we are better served trying to help everyone we can instead of trying to deny people their beliefs. Or anything that goes against "accepted belief." After all, we can't know what really went on 2000 years ago. We can't know what really happened to Moses, or the flight of the Jews into Israel. We can't know really understand why Muslims feel as they do about the Jews, about Christians, or about Americans as a rule. We can only sympathize, and hope for a better world free from all this hate.

      To put it into perspective, there's been recent controversy about placing a mosque at Ground Zero. I for one am FOR this. I think it's a good step towards the healing process. I know my idea is not without its detractors, but for the United States of America, it is a necessity. We are a country of many religions (and lack thereof) ... to heal those wounds, we need to remember this. We need to remember that it wasn't Muslims who committed this atrocity, but zealots who would take advantage of their idealogy. Just as the Romans too advantage of Jewish ideology when they nailed Jesus to the Cross.

      I know my idea is not popular, but as I said, it is what it is :). I knew Muslims who cried when they learned what happened in the name of their religion. They were not happy about it, any more than anyone else would have been truly happy about Jesus or any other Christian atrocity.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
    • Prometheus

      @Temperament:

      Your view mirrors my own, and I have been trying to wade through the HATE over the posts regarding the Islamic Cultural Center TWO BLOCKS away from World Trade Center Plaza, but it's like trying to give water to a rabid dog.

      I was a Warrior for 21 years in the Army. I love my Country and I would stretch my bottom lip over my feet and walk on broken glass for the least of America's citizens. I sometimes wish that EVERY person in the USA had to serve a MINIMUM of 4-years overseas in another cultural environment from the Western one, so that they could obtain a sense of perspective unlike "Joe Cheeseburger" about the world and it's infinite variety.

      God's Cajun seasoning is variety. He wants us all to sit down at the table and CHERISH it...TOGETHER.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • Temperament

      I think I accidentally reported your post as abuse (sorry if I did!!!!). If anyone is moderating this, please disregard!!!

      I had to LOL at your post. I agree with you on so many terms. I for myself am a pacifist, so I would NOT be a part of any military organization if I can keep from it. However, I respect those in service more than you can possibly imagine. It takes a level of commitment that is beyond my ability. I've know a few service men and women, a few of whom who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, and I mourn their loss and the reasons the same as everyone else. I count my blessings that they were able to do what I was not able to do. At the same time, i know what I would do in the defense of my own son ... and woah to the person who tried to harm him ...

      This world needs a figure-head standing up for the rights of every individual. Someone who doesn't care if you are Muslim or Christian, Atheist or Jew. If I may be so bold, someone who doesn't give a sh*t that your beliefs are different than mine. We don't have that anymore, and haven't had it in over 2000 years. Probably never.

      There are times when I wish Armaggehdon were here now. Wash away the unintelligent, the unsympathetic, the uncaring. But then I would be just like everyone else. And I don't want to be that.

      Do you grok, brother? 🙂 10-points if you catch the reference 🙂

      August 15, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
    • Temperament

      Oh, and I meant to post:

      Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and all of my respect, for your service to me and my country. Too few men and women ever receive this thanks, and I have let too many die without telling them this. You are, my friend, a true member of humanity.

      /tip hat.

      August 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  15. JoAnn

    Whats nice about this story is in resepect to the Christian population in Lebanon the Muslims stoped showing the series, and then we have a lunatic priest in Florida that wants to burn their holy book!! Wow over a series that describes the life of Jesus in the upmost respect you had goverment agencies and senators in Lebanon put in the picture, but in the US burning the Quran is looked at as Freedom of Speech. People these days are pathetic!!!

    August 15, 2010 at 8:46 pm |
  16. Horus of Egypt

    Why is it that no one can find the body of the so called dude named Jesus who died between 26-36 AD. But we are able to find the mummified corpses of kings that lived thousands of years before him. short answer is that he didn't exist. The bible is the only book that validates itself. When will people wake up and realize that religion is as real as snow white and the seven dwarfs. BTW Christianity was started by the roman empire and is not the word of god because if it was the word of god it would have been around for 4 million years when the first documented human lived in Africa (ARDI)

    August 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  17. godspell555

    god is love we all know love exists cant see it but we can feel it

    August 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  18. Temperament

    God is who he is. Those who believe in one thing over another will be sorely disappointed. No man or woman can know the true mind of god, and no man or woman can claim to believe who he is and what he expounds. The Bible is a choice, as is the Qu'ran and the Baghavad Ghita. It is ultimately how you choose to live your life, that God, in his (or her) ultimate form chooses to judge you.

    As an atheist, I perceive all religions as being equal. Each teaches the path to God equally. To deny dissent is to deny the very existence of God, whatever his or her form may be.

    God does not necessarily equal a supreme being. For those of us who do not follow the main and accepted religions, God is everything that is and ever will be, and we have no right to judge others for what they believe or accept.

    I for one am saddened by this turn of events. Denying opinion and faith is the path to the devil ... the path to utter oblivion. God, if so you believe, gave us the right to choose our destiny. Whether it be sin or salvation, it is what it is. We don't have the right - nor the authority - to stifle others from their opinion or faith.

    Jesus himself said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." I am a man of sin, as are every one of us. He may have absolved us of them, but the reality is that we still seek absolution in church for what we do on a daily basis. I for one am confident in my decisions daily. I have taken communion, and have been judged. It may not have been what I was hoping for, but I am comfortable with it. I have made my choice. As has everyone else.

    Jesus, if he was a real person, would have known this. Read the Apocrypha; read the other testaments, including the Qu'ran and others. They all say the same thing about him.

    He is more like us than any other man living today. His was an idea, not a testament. Those who remember this live lives of tranquility and salvation.

    As I said, I'm an atheist. I do not believe in the literal word of god. But I believe that forces in the universe are at play that none of us - not a single one, can even begin to comprehend. Whether you call it God or Fate is immaterial. It is what it is. And those who stifle any religious dissent is just as guilty as those who placed Jesus on the cross to begin with.

    Do not judge Him, and do not judge those who dissent. Judge only your own actions, and your own truth.

    The bottom line is: If he truly existed, we cannot know the depths of his love for humanity. If he existed, we cannot know the level of pain he endured to absolve us of sin. And if he did not exist, then it doesn't really matter ... it was a morality tale, to show us the depths each of us must go to absolve ourselves of our own sin.

    Sin is anything that goes against the prosperity of humanity. Sin is that force which destroys nations and individuals at the expense of others. Sin is anything that goes against what is morally right. I have tried to live my life thus. If God truly exists, and when I die he judges me inadequate, then I accept my fate, willingly. But I do not think God will judge me thus.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • Prometheus

      I'll shut up now. I couldn't have said it any better @Temperament.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • Oscar

      If you call yourself an Atheist, then why do you capitalize the word "God"? I don't believe in the existence of Atheists. It is impossible for a human being to be so close minded to ignore the obvious and relevant.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
    • Temperament

      I capitalize God for the same reason you do ... for the idea of what he represents.

      Christianity wasn't the first religion on the face of the Earth. There are many other older religions that are still practiced today who believe in the presence of an "all-knowing God." And way too many current beliefs of a Christian God are based on pagan belief ... it was a way for the Catholic church to promote their ideology to the masses during the Dark Ages. Our current belief is that Christ was born on Christmas Day, when we know that it was Summer in the Middle East when he was born. It was the Catholic Church who used the pagan Winter Solstice to convert pagan minds.

      August 15, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
  19. Gotcha

    So glad nobody believes in me, those Christians and that book called the bible....hehe..it says that I roam around, seeking whom I can devour! I am glad you don't believe that crap. Its easier for me to work, when I have such a great bunch of followers. I have been callled Lucifer, the devil, Satan...just ask natas who posted above, one of my loyal followers.... also a fellow athiest of you all. I must let him know he is slipping up, using that backward stuff. What is so good about my mission, is that you are all doing my work for me! Imagine that..someday you will join me in my humble abode, as long as you stick to your belief system..and keep the nutty Christians at bay.
    Oh yes, you will be surprised....I have a nice hot coal with each of your names on it....so keep on not believing anything, unless you can see it, feel it or reason it.

    August 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
    • godspell555

      if you believe in satan you have to believe in god all you athiest are freakin hilarious.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm |
    • Kerbelai

      @Gotcha
      Too bad you are not giving us an honest post. What mangled logic. If you want to defend your belief system on a blog like this, you need to write something that makes sense instead of pretending to be what you are not and writing nonsense.
      Oh, wait. That's what you've been doing all along, isn't it?
      Sari.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:41 pm |
    • Prometheus

      God gave me a mind to reason with. God does not suffer the fool. God would not want a fool to blindly follow him, as a fool can be led in any direction by definition.

      "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind"

      Further:

      "If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence."

      What I see in those passages is an invitation to use the mind that God gave me to decide what to believe on my own, not to follow another man simply on the basis of his professed faith and stature within that faith. In a way, each of us IS God. He trusts us to come to him by the gifts he gave us to reason our existence and purpose. That strikes me as the truth in my core...and THAT is what I believe.

      August 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
  20. M&M

    The depiction might have been incorrect but it's the message and acknowledgment of Jesus Christ that trumps the incorrectness. Somehow, I believe that we (regardless of faith) have gotten a lot of things wrong because someone before us said this or that in their interpretation and we continue on with that wrong belief.

    To those who oppose the film...don't throw out the baby with the bath water!

    August 15, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
    • godspell555

      jesus is the spirit of truth and joseph did not inpregnate mary so how could he be of a race. you should read with understanding but it is ok to be wrong i forgive you.nothing but love

      August 15, 2010 at 8:40 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.