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Wednesday, 27 January, 1999, 12:07 GMT
Malaysia bans Spielberg's Prince
prince of egypt
The Prince of Egypt falls foul of censors (courtesy DreamWorks)
Steven Spielberg's animated epic The Prince of Egypt has been banned in Malaysia.

Government officials in the country said the film had been banned so as not to offend the country's majority Muslim population.

Film Censorship Board chairman Lukeman Saaid said: "We found it insensitive for religious and moral reasons. Because of the many races in Malaysia, religion is a very sensitive issue."

But trailers for the film, which depicts the life of Moses, have already been running for weeks in the country's cinemas.

"Everybody was anticipating The Prince Of Egypt. It's just a cartoon, I don't see why they should ban it," said a staff member at one cinema, Tanjong Golden Village.

Strict censorship in Malaysia

prince of egypt
The Maldives also objected to its portrayal of Moses
About 60% of Malaysia's 22 million people are Muslim; the remainder are Christian, Hindu or Buddhist.

Film censors in the country have little tolerance over nudity, sex, strong language, violence or sensitive religious themes in films.

But it also wants to be Asia's film-making centre as part of a plan to boost the information technology industry.

The ban has angered opposition leader Lim Kit Sang. He said: "This high-handed attitude may be the order of yesteryear but is no more satisfactory or acceptable in this modern age of information technology.

"How can Malaysia become Asia's film-making hub when it has such outmoded censorship laws?"

'Pirate copies available'

steven spielberg
Steven Spielberg: A history of trouble with Malaysian censors
Lim urged Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is in charge of film censorship, to revoke the ban - adding pirate copies were available across Malaysia.

Distributors United International Pictures also plan to appeal.

Recently The Prince Of Egypt was banned in the Maldives, which said its portrayal of Moses was offensive to Islam.

The film was produced by DreamWorks Studios, which is co-funded by Steven Spielberg. His films have a history of trouble with Malaysian censors.

Saving Private Ryan was allowed but with many violent scenes cut. Spielberg insisted the film be shown in full - and it still has not been seen in Malaysia.

Schindler's List was banned for being sympathetic to Jews, though was later allowed through with several violent and nude scenes cut, to Spielberg's disgust.

The Prince of Egypt has so far grossed $82m in the US. It was released there and in the UK and many other countries just before Christmas to take advantage of the holiday season.

See also:

02 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Spielberg's PC Prince
22 Dec 98 | Entertainment
Cartoon Moses is a gamble
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