04/07/2004, 00.00
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After seeing "The Passion" Muslims start searching for the Gospel

In just 3 days more than a 1/10 of the population has seen the film.

Doha (AsiaNews) – ""Do you have the New Testament in Arab? Me and all my friends would like to read it." This was the request of 2 students from Qatar, after seeing Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ".   

Already on the second day after the film started showing in Qatar, many local newspapers are reporting the film on their front pages. According to the English language daily, The Peninsula Qatar, since the first three days of its release, 66,321 tickets have been sold –smashing the record once held by Matrix Reloaded, which had sold 59,000.

The film is becoming so popular in Qatar that some theaters have cancelled showings of other films in order to increase viewings of Gibson's blockbuster.

Middle East Christians are spellbound by the interest Arabs have taken in the seeing the Gospel portrayed on the big screen.

The movie has sparked hours of discussion between Christians and Muslims regarding questions of faith. Many Arabs were interested in seeing the film only because of the anti-Semitic controversy surrounding it. However the movie's theme is an unavoidable subject. "The message of loving your enemies and Jesus who, even while up on the cross, prayed for and forgave them strikes all viewers deeply," said two Americans working in Qatar.

The American couple said they were amazed the government had permitted the film to be released in an Islamic country like Qatar. "In the next few weeks tens of thousands of people living here will go and see this powerful retelling of Christ's suffering and death. Many moviegoers react to the film. For example, those sitting next to us in the theater were moved and breathless. Others wept or had looks of disgust on their facers when watching the brutality Jesus underwent," they said.

"This film is generating huge interest in Jesus and the Bible," said the two Americans. "All this has never happened before!"
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See also
Gibson's "Passion" appreciated by Hindus, seen as antidote to fundamentalism
"The Passion" : Movie theaters booked by churches inviting non-Christians
'The Passion of the Christ': "A milestone in the cinema history"
"The Passion of the Christ" resounding success as moviegoers search for traces of anti-Semitism
"The Passion of the Christ" wins over non-Catholic youth


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