New Netflix Film “Messiah” Sparks “Anti-Christ” Controversy | Image: YouTube/Netflix
Through its content Netflix usually carries culturally, politically and religiously controversial ideas; but this time it is different. Netflix decided to make a new series on one of the most sensitive religious topics, which is the story of the emergence of Christ and the Antichrist at the end of time. The company released the first trailer for its upcoming thriller Messiah this week – and inadvertently revealed a major plot twist to many Muslim viewers.
The show centres on a Christ-like man who performs miracles around the world. But the character’s name is a nod to ‘Dajjal’, a false prophet in Islamic theology comparable to the Antichrist.
The series, which was released last week, has the title “Messiah”, and is directed by Michael Petroni. Messiah is starring a Belgian actor Mehdi Dahbi and American actress Michel Monaghan.
What was in the trailer?
In the trailer, Mehdi Dehbithe – the Belgian actor who played the main character- is seen performing miracles and building a huge international following.
A CIA officer investigates the elusive figure, whom she suspects of being a major global con artist. During an interrogation, the man says he was sent “by his father” to help people.
Who is Dajjal?
Dajjal means “deceiver” in Arabic. In Islamic eschatology, Al-Masih Ad-Dajjal is an evil false prophet whom, it is said, will come to earth and try to lure people into following Shaytan (Satan). It is believed he will then be destroyed by Christ, or the Imam Mahdi. In the Hadith, an Islamic holy book said to contain the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Dajjal is described as having curly hair, one eye, and the word “kafir” – unbeliever – on his forehead.
The details about the series carry many references that confirm, that the story is based on religious references. In addition to the name of the series that bears the name of Christ in the Jewish religion “Masaya”. The hero of the work in the name of “Al Masih” appears according to the series page on the site ” IMDB.
It is also strange that the actor who was chosen for the championship bears the name “Mahdi”, a name that has a clear connotation in the Islamic religion, as it is believed that Imam Mahdi will lead Muslims in the battle of the end of time against the Antichrist.
The makers enters a minefield in this particular area, the conflict between Christ and the Antichrist according to the Abrahamic religions, which will happen at the end of time.
On the one hand, Muslims, Christians and Jews believe that there is a man who will come before the second “Christ” appears, and he will claim to be Christ, and that in this way many people will be tempted to follow him and ultimately worship him. (False Christ), the name that appears on a wall during the trailer.
On the other hand, the series may use this “theme” only to stir controversy, while the main plot of the series is about a man who claims all this and has nothing to do with the religious story.
The controversy has already started on social media platforms prior to the presentation of the series that will start on January 1, 2020, especially since the series’s advertisement carries scenes in which this person claiming to be “Christ” appears in many cities in the Middle East, specifically in palestine. In which Muslims believe that Christ will return, accompanied by the Mahdi, to victory over the Antichrist and his followers, while the Jews believe that their faithful leader will appear at the temple claiming that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was built on its ruins.
Who do you think he is?
Netflix tweeted the trailer with the question: “Who do you think he is?
The series’s official account on Twitter tweeted a few days ago, asking the audience, “Who do you think it will be?” While many of Netflix’s followers, especially from the Arab public, answered that they thought the series would be about the Antichrist, according to all the signs that appeared in the advertisement.
Quote-tweeting the trailer, user @Sultaan_Mo1 wrote “I’m getting Dajjal vibes”, before adding in another tweet: “I bet he’ll ‘accidentally’ lose an eye.” The posts had tens of thousands of likes and retweets. Later, the same Twitter user posted screenshots appearing to show they had been blocked by both the Netflix and Messiah accounts.
Netflix has denied this, saying: “There’s no truth to this story we have not blocked fans.”
One person wrote that “Muslims figured out the twist ending of the Netflix ‘Messiah’ show because they literally named the character Dajjal”, but Netflix’s official Twitter account responded: “That’s not actually the character’s name.”
Author G Willow Wilson said it was still “heavy handed” of Netflix to call the character Al-Masih, rather than “Bob, or Abdel Halim el Helwani, or literally anything besides the title with which the Antichrist will announce himself”.
She added: “I get why, to an English speaker with no background in Islam or Arabic the connection between Masih and Messiah is sufficiently subtle. So perhaps to them it sounded like Bob. Yet they didn’t anticipate that everything is local on the internet.”
Another Twitter user said it was as obvious as “watching an Arabic murder mystery and there’s a character named Murder McMurderson”.
The matter also reached one of the followers to answer the official account of the series, expecting that this character will lose one of her eyes during the events of the series, which is the clear indication that Muslims believe it will happen to the Antichrist, but the official Netflix network account denied that the character that appears in the series is called the “Antichrist”.
In any case, we will wait for the events that the series will contain, through its first season, which will be available for viewing at the beginning of 2020, through ten episodes that may spark further controversy and debate around the world.