Will ‘Da Vinci Code’ be banned in Jordan? And what about Syriana, Paradise Now and Munich?

7/5/2006

The Da Vinci Code affair is coming to the surface again with the imminent worldwide release of the movie. According to the Jordan Times today, Churches in Jordan are asking for it to be banned. The book is supposedly banned (but I am seeing it all over the place, even in an Arabic translation).

Jordan Times (Home News Section): “It is too early to decide whether we will allow the movie to be broadcast or not. We must first watch it,” said Sami Mahasneh, head of censorship department at the Higher Council for Censorship and Media.

“We do not know how the director handled the controversial issues in the novel. We cannot pass our judgement from what people say,” said Mahasneh.

The novel, which has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, was banned from sale in Jordan and Lebanon due to its controversial religious themes and rumours of conspiracy in the Vatican.

Mahasneh insists the movie will be handled like any other movie, despite an appeal from the Council of Churches, the Kingdom’s highest Christian body, to ban it from cinemas.

Mahasneh, however, pointed out that the government might “consult” top Christian religious figures before making a final decision.

“We respect Christians’ opinions and sensitivities, but the final decision is ours,” added Mahasneh.

Hanna Noor, secretary general of the Council of Churches urged the government to “respect the sensitivities of Christians’ feelings and take all necessary measures to ban the movie from theatres.

“The book was full of fabricated lies about Jesus,” said Noor. “The movie crosses all red lines as far as Jesus is concerned as it contradicts the teachings of the Bible and the Koran,” he added.

On the subject of films that are not playing in Jordan: whatever happened to Syriana, Paradise Now and Munich? These are major films that have not been shown in our movie theaters.

I know that Syriana was actually shown in Dubai (in a film festival as well as in theaters, where two minutes of the movie were cut):

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Clooney film cut by Gulf censors: George Clooney’s oil drama Syriana has premiered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with two minutes of film removed at the request of government censors.

Scenes showing mistreatment of Asian workers in the Gulf and references to a late Saudi king were among those cut.

Munich was shown in Dubai too.

I can’t recall any discussion of censorship of these movies in the press. They simply have not screened!

14 Comments

  1. as far as I recall… the Da Vinci Code “the book” wasn’t offensive to the Church… the author claims that what he argues are actual FACTS… but as far as the readers are concerned… it is up to them to decide whether it is a fact or a ficition…
    and for the rest of the movies… I think Arabs are still way behind accepting others critcism… so long for “freedom of experession”…

  2. Hussein says:

    people just waiting for jim carry and Pamela anderson.. and the government happy to serve them with pleasure! and without cutting and reediting.. but when its come to serious movies, such as Syriana, Munich, Lord of War (serious 4 me at least), kingdom of heaven and Paradise Now.. they start to create a reasons and issues about the movie.. and finally they well ban it.

    anyway, here in doha they allow to Munich to be shown.. without a 30 minutes!.. for syiana i’m ordering it form Amazon as soon they released it.. tonight i’m going to watch M-i III..

    Nice one ahmad!

  3. salam says:

    It’s laughable when something is banned and yet seems to be so easily available to anyone who wants it.I can’t actualy believe that the book was banned since as you said it is all around the place,even if you haven’t heard about it you wil want to check it out since it is exhibited so openly and aggressively.I thought I read yesterday on the TV scrolling film that the movie was banned in Jordan.However,syriana is sold for one dinar downtown,crystal clear copies,I suspet Da vinci code will follow.

  4. salam says:

    They can ban and they can censor all they want, anyone can download or buy any of those movies in wasat el balad.

  5. Batir Wardam says:

    Banning is just a move by the government to get itself out of the hook and not face criticism from curches, friendly countries and internal religious figures. In reality, any one can purchase and access the banned material.

  6. Humeid says:

    Devoika:

    The Da Vinci Code is a work of fiction. I don’t think the author made claims about any FACTS. He mixes facts with fiction. If you have a link where he describes his work as documentary please share it.

  7. Omar says:

    Censorship in this day and age does not make sense because like everyone mentioned, the banned titles can be bought /viewed via legal (Internet) or illegal(black market) means. Whenever there is any breaking news, our TV stations are the last to report them…I wonder why? Censorship?

  8. Ahmad… maybe I mis-said what i wanted to say… anyways… in the copy I have… one of the earlist published there is a fact sheet in which the author says that all discription of sects, paintings, history events, buildings are facts… and moreover… when you read the novel… for the first time… you can easily get carried away by the way Brown is concluding to stuff basing his theories on real stuff… and mislead you to think of them as facts… that’s what i mean… sorry for the misunderstanding…

  9. Phree says:

    People here aren’t ready for this kind of freedom. Now I know that anyone can get the novel or dvd if they want, that this banning business is just to let know that they don’t approve of it in case anyone asks. But correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t this novel disrespectful to Christ? We saw what happened with the prophet’s cartoons business and how it got ugly. Before demanding freedom of speech, one must realise that he/she won’t always hear something they like but will have to tolerate it. Tolerance it seems, is something we yet have to embrace.

  10. nasimjo says:

    Seems i’ve been missing on something in my absence around and about ;)
    So Let’s See:
    The Da Vinci Code book WAS banned when release in jordan and lebanon, upon pressure from the patriarchy in those countries, but after a couple of months or so it was back on the shelves in its English, Collectors’ English , translated arabic and french versions all over the place. (lines under WAS) I STILL get annoyed when i hear from people saying this book is banned, its like the are proud of it, IT IS NOT!!!! it was for a certain period, but this DIDNT and WONT last! Aramex are selling it with 7.5 JD (Which is pretty cheap for such books) and its available in all the jordanian universities libraries, in both arabic and english versions.

    Yes, I think that even if the movie will be banned, it won’t last that much i guess (talking about official legal DVD copies and Cinema playing), there would surely be pirated copies all around the town, even heavily since its considered PROUDLY BANNED by people.

    As I just mentioned in the “supposedly Jordanian Magazine” Living Well (I don’t have time to talk about the mag now…. anyway), in an article regarding this movie they mention in the final note that the movie will be ON SCREENS all around the cinemas in the GCC (even saudi arabia maybe!).

    Yes I do agree with Batir, this banning thing is just to make this pressure by the patriarchy settle down a lil bit, the higher media council surely knows there will be pirated copies, and if those selling the pirated copies will be caught (in case they will have a really bad luck), they will be charged with fines because of making pirat copies not because the movie is banned.

    about what is wrote in the Da Vinci Code is Fiction,hmm, I personally dont really think so, as the all the information mentioned in Dan Brown’s NOVEL are simply copied and compiled from other BOOKS, mainly not that popular BOOKS as they are purely RESEARCH BOOKS and HISTORY BOOKS that aren’t on demand by the public, and not even available for the public, my self have read and knew about mainly all the major ideas Brown comes over in his novel in BOOKS published by international writers, mainly Romanian writers in my case, and all those books were rare history books gathering information either from one copy books or other rare books by their researchers and writers….. but Brown didnt reference anything in his books, this is actually the cause of his last case, where he is condemned in having stolen the ideas in his book without referencing, but the fact is that he didnt write a book, but a NOVEL…. so having mentioning those

    Though Im not really a movie watcher, but i’d really love to see Syriana (just out of curiosity) and the Da vinci code one day.

  11. Toujan says:

    Ahmad,

    With the movie close to being released, the History Channel (http://www.historychannel.com/davincidecoded/) dedicated an entire week to documentaries investigating the authenticity of the ‘facts’ that are included in Dan Brown’s novel.

    While the novel itself is a work of fiction, it seems that some of the facts in it are true.

    To be honest, I totally understand why the church would want to ban the book and the movie. Please do not get me wrong, I am not pro-censorship – at least not this kind of censorship – but, after reading the book, I totally understand how ‘blasphemous’ it may seem from the point of view of a Christian! The novel literarily speaking shakes the foundations of Christianity. And all these movie, documentary and book releases are happening at a time when highly controversial relics are being discovered and interpreted, like ‘The Jesus Papers’ and the ‘Long lost gospel of Judas’.

    Yes, Jordan is predominantly Muslim, but that does not mean that we do not respect our Christian minority’s feelings. If our government and our people maintain the right to sensor movies and books that are deemed ‘offensive’ to Islam, then surely they should ban books or movies that our Christian population deem as offensive to Christianity.

    Again, before one of your readers jumps at me :) I am not pro-censorship. All I am saying is, within the context of our culture, I understand.

  12. Vas says:

    May I add my comment for the publc discourse in Greece, concerning the screening of the film? There, again theological fervour and some moralistic passion which, in the end, becomes an advertising campaign…

    http://amman-gr.livejournal.com/13891.html

  13. [...] The Da Vinci Code movie is set to be released in the States this week. One of the issues floating around the Jordanian blogosphere is whether the movie should be banned from theaters in Jordan. [...]

  14. Jamileh says:

    I think it’s hilarious that The Da Vinci Code gets all this support, and is called factual and people see nothing wrong with it, because it’s something that insults Christians, but when there’s anything that insults Muslims in any way, bt2oum il Dinia w ma bt23ud. We’re such hypocrites. I know this story is old, and I just wanted to reply to it because I’ve been insulted numerous times for being Christian even at UJ and talked to many higher ups about it and no one cared, but the minute anything remotely factually says anything about Islam that Muslims don’t like, the entire Muslim Ummah goes crazy. You call the West full of double standards? What about you?

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