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And some mullahs are encouraging their Muslim followers to see the film. Why such an unexpected endorsement? The false rumors that the film is anti-Semitic have reached the mullahs, and as one missionary explains, ?since they hate the Jews, they want to see it.? Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet, and although they believe Muhammad superseded Him, they still revere and respect Christ. So when they hear of a film which is alleged to show Jews crucifying Christ, some Muslims welcome the opportunity to revel in a depiction of the wickedness of their long-time enemies.
But many Muslims are responding to the film in ways their mullahs hadn?t intended. One viewer recognized, ?When they show a story of the Romans . . . in ancient times, it doesn?t mean the present-day Italians are responsible.? By analogy, he reasoned that, even if he construed the film as depicting first-century Jews as instigators of Christ?s crucifixion, that would not be an indictment of modern Israelis.
An even more important consequence shows up in an e-mail from a missionary, who marvels, ?In two short hours more Qataris heard the Gospel than I have been able to reach in nearly five years living here. At the and showings, the film was running in all three theaters.? He estimated that more than 50 percent of the people in the theater were local Muslims?including completely veiled women.