• PERSIAN GULF \ Nov 24, 2004
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    Shi'ite cleric urges Kuwait to lift 'Passion' ban
Shi'ite cleric urges Kuwait to lift 'Passion' ban

"We demand the Information Ministry to allow the film 'The Passion of The Christ', peace be upon Him, to expose the role of the Jews, the killers of prophets," Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Mohri said in remarks published on Saturday.

Jewish groups say the epic of the last 12 hours of Jesus's life could foment anti-Semitism with its graphic depiction of the torture and crucifixion of Jesus.

The Kuwaiti Information Ministry has banned the film from local cinemas, citing a blanket ban on all films that depict prophets. The Gulf Arab state has an overwhelming Muslim local population but a sizeable Christian expatriate community.

The film has drawn large audiences in other Arab states like Lebanon and Syria. Press reports have quoted Lebanon's Maronite Christian Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as saying after separate private screenings that it was not anti-Semitic.

The Friday sermon remarks by Mohri, who is a close aide to Iraq's most revered Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, were published by Kuwaiti newspapers on Saturday.

Mohri said top Shi'ite scholars in the past have allowed their followers to watch films that depict Prophet Mohammed. He said Sistani himself has allowed actors to depict one of Shi'i'te Muslims' most revered figures, Imam Hussein.