'Exodus' Morocco Ban Criticized by Local Politicians, Filmmakers

The decision to ban Ridley Scott's Biblical epic involved the scene in which an 11-year-old boy, representing the voice of God, speaks to Moses

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco has banned Ridley Scott's biblical epic Exodus, provoking an angry response by politicians and filmmakers in this North African country.

Morocco's film commission issued a letter to all cinemas on Saturday, notifying them that the film, which portrays the story of Moses, has been banned for possibly portraying God in the scene of Moses' revelation.

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Islamic and Moroccan law both forbid the public display of images of God.

The movie has already been banned in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

However, a party in Morocco's governing coalition has criticized the ban as "incomprehensible," especially to a film industry that is important to Morocco, a major destination for foreign productions.

"There should have been a more intelligent handling of this affair in a way that didn't damage the image of the kingdom and preserves the freedom of creation and art," the Progressive Socialist Party said in a statement that appeared in the press on Wednesday.

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Morocco's governing coalition is led by an Islamist party, though most power resides with the king.

The country's organization of filmmakers also criticized the ban, calling it "ridiculous and irrational."

"This decision risks discouraging film investment in our country and sending foreign productions to other destinations," Abderrahman Tazi, the group's chief, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

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The Moroccan Cinema Commission's decision to ban Exodus involved a scene in which a child, which could be interpreted as representing God, speaks to Moses.

The commission had originally authorized the film, but its leader, Sarim Fassi-Fihri, said a representative of the Communications Ministry had objections. After a second viewing, the panel banned the movie.

Minister of Communication Mustapha Khalfi confirmed that his ministry raised objections to the film.

"All members of the commission made this decision, and it has nothing to do with the freedom of expression," he told the Associated Press.