RUSSELL Crowe's Biblical epic Noah is facing bans in Islamic countries because it conflicts with laws against portraying a prophet.

The Hollywood Reporter says censor boards in Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have informed Paramount they will not release the film, based on the story of Noah's ark.

Similar rulings are expected in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, according to Paramount insiders.

In Egypt, the leading Sunni Muslim institute Al-Azhar issued a statement on Thursday condemning the Paramount movie, saying it should be banned in that country.

"Al-Azhar renews its rejection to the screening of any production that characterises Allah's prophets and messengers and the companions of the Prophet [Muhammad]," the statement said.

"Therefore, Al-Azhar announces the prohibition of the upcoming film about the Allah's messenger Noah -- peace be upon him."

Noah is scheduled to open in Egypt on March 26, two days before its launch in the U.S., where it also has come under fire from some church leaders for its dark portrayal of Noah.

Paramount agreed last week to alter the marketing materials for Noah to make clear that it is a creative rather than a literal adaptation of the Bible story.


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