Lebanese broadcasters cancel controversial Jesus programme

Lebanese broadcasters cancel controversial Jesus programme

By staff writers
16 Aug 2010

A programme about Jesus filmed from an Islamic perspective was cancelled by two Shi'ite Muslim television stations in Lebanon last week.

The decision was taken on Friday 13 August 2010, after it was agreed that the programme might incite sectarian conflict and unrest in the country.

The 17-episode series, which has been produced in Iran, portrays Jesus as a prophet and a teacher, but not Son of God, according to the Muslim faith.

Lebanon has a grim history of communitarian conflict. The four million strong population is comprised religiously of 18 different groups, including Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, Christians and Druse.

Al-Manar, a television station run by Lebanon's powerful militant group, Hezbollah, and the National Broadcasting Network, NBN, started airing the series this week at the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Both clergy and politicians from a Christian background objected, including the Catholic Maronite Archbishop Bechara el-Rai.

Before a news conference from el-Rai, Al-Manar and NBN issued a statement saying that the programme "shows the great personality of God's prophet Jesus, the son of Mary, peace be upon him."

But the stations decided to stop the broadcast "in respect to other Lebanese sects."

Information Minister Tarek Mitri made it clear that he opposes censorship, but he also said that Lebanon's religious diversity needed to be respected, and therefore approved the two stations' decision.

[Ekk/3]

Keywords: jesus | lebanon | television
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