'Noah' doesn't rock the boat in Singapore

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NO ISSUE: Muslim leaders and teachers in Singapore have so far raised no objection to the film Noah, starring Russell Crowe as the titular character.

SINGAPORE - Muslim leaders and teachers in Singapore have so far raised no objection to the Hollywood blockbuster Noah, despite Indonesia banning the movie for religious reasons.

On Tuesday, censors in Indonesia said they banned the movie, as the depiction of prophets is forbidden under Islamic law.

The film, based on the story of Noah's Ark, had also been banned in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

Besides being a biblical figure, Noah is a prophet for Muslims.

But in Singapore, Muslim leaders and ustazes - who are Islamic religious teachers - said that, so long as the film does not point out explicitly that Noah is a prophet for Muslims, they would be "less concerned".

Mr Nailul Hafiz Abdul Rahim, chairman of the Kampung Siglap Mosque, told MyPaper: "As long as it is not intentionally pointed out that Noah is a prophet of Islam, I am less concerned. This is a Noah produced by Hollywood, which produces hundreds and thousands of films, and not all of them are factually correct."

He added: "As a secular state, we respect the freedom of speech and expression."

Ustaz Ali Mohamed, chairman of Khadijah Mosque in Geylang, said that it "really depends on how they depict the story of Noah in the movie...(but) so long as the movie does not say that Noah is a prophet for Muslims, it's okay."

Imam Habib Hassan, who heads the Ba'alwie Mosque in Bukit Timah, declined to comment on the film or Noah as a prophet specifically, but said: "Muslim scholars past and present do not allow pictures, drawings, or anyone acting as our Prophet Muhammad. But Al-Azhar, the highest Islamic university, does allow people acting as the Prophet's disciples."

He gave the example of the 1976 film The Message, in which Mexican-American actor Anthony Quinn played Hamzah, the uncle of Muhammad.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) did not respond to queries by press time.

In the United States, the film has also angered some Christian institutions due to lead actor Russell Crowe's reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah.

Paramount Pictures has added an explanatory message to marketing materials for the movie, reading: "Noah is inspired by the Book Of Genesis. Though artistic licence has been taken, we believe the film to be true to the values and integrity of the biblical story."

Churches and pastors here said that they could comment only after they have watched the film, but a pastor from an evangelical church noted that if the movie is "close to the depiction in the Bible, it's safe in that sense".

The pastor, who declined to be named, added: "But, as with any movie, there will be certain parts which have exaggeration, because it's based on creativity and imagination and might not really have happened in that manner."

MyPaper understands that the Media Development Authority is classifying the film's rating, but it looks set to hit the big screen next Thursday, with posters up islandwide.

limyihan@sph.com.sg


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