Christian Arabs Protest Cable Screening of Film

Organizations representing Israel’s Christian Arab population called on members of the community to boycott their cable companies after the screening over the weekend of the film “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

The film was shown Saturday night, after the Tel Aviv district court rejected a petition from Christian Arab organizations calling for a ban of the transmission.

During the film’s airing, Christian Arabs protested in Haifa. Some 27 demonstrators were arrested when the protests turned violent.

In the Galilee communities of Nazareth and Shfaram, several hundred cable television boxes were vandalized to protest the film.

The film, directed by Martin Scorcese, provoked demonstrations and boycotts by Christian groups in the United States when it was first released in 1988 because of the film’s depiction of jesus as a man vulnerable to sexual temptation. It was also shown in Israeli cinemas when it first came out.

Aziz Noor, who organized efforts to prevent the airing of the film, said the Christian Arab community should respond by boycotting their cable television companies.

“We have already presented the cable companies with a letter, signed by 2,000 people, who are ready to disconnect their cable service,” he said.

Communications Minister Shulamit Aloni said it was not her place to intervene and that she did not have the authority to determine which films should or should not be shown.

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