The Message, Syrian-American director Moustafa Akkad’s epic film about Prophet Mohammed, will be screened for the first time in Saudi cinemas on Thursday — four decades after an initial ban. “Knowing that there were so many difficulties… , now that they’re showing it in the theatres I couldn’t be happier,” said Akkad’s son. The 1976 film has been widely-watched in the Arab world since its release. But it was banned in the land of Islam’s holiest sites and boycotted by conservatives for its depiction of the prophet and his companions.Also Read - Bakrid 2021: Date, Time, History And Significance of This Festival

“It caused a lot of controversy and there were a lot of obstacles put in its way,” said Akkad’s son, Malik Moustafa Akkad, noting it remains banned in Kuwait. Saudi Arabia lifted a longstanding ban on cinemas last year, part of an easing of social restrictions pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi theatres will now screen a restored version of the 1976 epic, produced from the film’s original negatives.”Even if you’ve seen the film, you’ve never seen it look this good,” said Akkad’s son.The late director “always intended it to be a big-screen event. And that’s the way to see it”, he added. Also Read - Giant Images of Prophet Mohammed Appear on French Govt Building

Profits from the screenings will support a scholarship fund for filmmakers from the region to study at Moustafa Akkad’s alma mater, the University of Southern California. The Aleppo-born director perished with his daughter in the 2005 Amman hotel bombings claimed by Al-Qaeda that cost dozens of lives. Also Read - French Teacher Beheaded For Displaying Caricatures of Prophet Mohammed in Class, President Macron Calls it ‘Terrorist Attack’