CAIRO: Egypt has banned the Hollywood biblical epic movie “Exodus: Gods and Kings” citing historical inaccuracies, the culture minister said Friday, a day after a similar move by Morocco.
The film relates how Moses helped Israelite slaves flee persecution in Egypt under the Pharaoh Ramses by parting the Red Sea to let them cross safely.
But Culture Minister Gaber Asfour said Ridley Scott’s blockbuster was rife with mistakes, including an apparent claim that Moses and the Jews built the pyramids.
“This totally contradicts proven historical facts,” Asfour said.
The ban was decided by a committee comprising the head of the supreme council for culture, Mohammed Afifi, the head of the censorship committee and two history professors, said Asfour.
Afifi said he took issue with the scene showing the parting of the Red Sea in which Moses — a prophet revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike — is seen holding a sword like a warrior, instead of a stick.
He added that the parting of the Red Sea is explained in the movie as a “tidal phenomenon” rather than a divine miracle.
Morocco has also banned the film, despite it already having been approved by the state-run Moroccan Cinema Centre, media reported on Thursday, quoting theatre managers.
Hassan Belkady, who runs Cinema Rif in Casablanca, said he was threatened with closure if he ignored the ban.
“They phoned and threatened they would shut down the theatre if I did not take the film off the schedule,” Belkady said.
In March, Al-Azhar, Egypt’s top Islamic body, banned the screening of “Noah”, another Hollywood biblical epic starring Russell Crowe, saying it violated Islam by portraying a prophet.
The film triggered controversy in the United States where some Christian institutions criticized Crowe’s reportedly unconventional portrayal of Noah.
“Exodus” has also sparked unkind reviews and upset some Christian groups, with critics saying Scott took too many liberties with the Bible.