Bahrain bans Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'

The Gulf state of Bahrain has banned the screening of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" on the grounds that it is against Islam, an information ministry official told AFP.

"It was banned two weeks ago," said Jamal Dawood, director of the ministry's publishing department, on Thursday.

"It's banned because it is against Islamic Sharia which forbids depicting the prophets," he said. "When the Bahrain cinema company applied for a permit to screen the movie, we told them it wasn't possible."

Several Arab countries, including the Gulf states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have already given the film the green light.

In Kuwait, the authorities have still not decided whether to ban the controversial movie, which has stirred up a religious controversy between the emirate's Sunni Muslims, who oppose it, and Shiite Muslims, who call for showing it.

The movie, which depicts the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life, in often graphic and brutal detail, has drawn a storm of criticism as it reaches cinemas worldwide after its release in the United States.

Gibson's film, shot in Latin and Aramaic and using little-known actors, has been a huge box-office hit in North America.