Morocco approves Exodus film, after offending sections cut
RABAT, Morocco (AP) The Ridley Scott biblical epic "Exodus," that was banned in Morocco for violating Islamic precepts, will be shown once again in this North African country after the studio agreed to remove the offending passages.
The Moroccan Cinematography Center issued a statement late Tuesday explaining that the film, which recounts the story of Moses, could now be shown in theaters after Fox Studios and director Ridley Scott took out dialogue implying one of the characters represented God.
"They went ahead and made the desired change, removing two audio passages that alluded to the personification of the Divine," the statement said.
On Dec. 27, the Morocco Cinematography Center told theaters to stop showing the film after a review board objected to the scene where Moses receives his revelation from a figure that could be interpreted as representing God.
In the movie, Moses asks the child "who are you?" The child responds, "I am," suggesting it is a representation of God.
In Islam, figural representations of God are forbidden.
The board's move prompted criticisms over freedom of expression by filmmakers and politicians in Morocco.
Morocco has a more liberal attitude toward Western films than other countries in the region and the ban was unusual. Censorship of scenes offending religious or cultural mores is common in the conservative Gulf countries and Egypt.
"Exodus" was banned by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which claimed it was historically inaccurate.
In its statement, the film center maintained that the original banning was not censorship, as many claimed, but a matter of respect for people's beliefs.
"This shows that the respect for freedom of creation, like all freedoms, does not mean ignoring the sentiments of citizens, particularly religious ones," it said.
An uncut version of the film has been available for weeks on pirated DVDs sold in the streets.