In the tiny Islamic nation of Qatar, the opening of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” has become front-page news, breaking box-office records and sparking a remarkable interest in the Christian Gospel among Muslims.

“Do you have the New Testament in Arab? Me and all my friends would like to read it.”

That was the request of two students after seeing the film about the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life, according to an American couple working in the country, the Asia Times reported.

“This film is generating huge interest in Jesus and the Bible,” said the couple, who asked to remain unnamed.

“All this has never happened before!” they said in a message reported by the paper.

Many Arabs wanted to see the film only because of the anti-Semitic controversy surrounding it, according to the Times. But the movie has sparked hours of discussion between Christians and Muslims on questions of faith, the couple said.

“The message of loving your enemies and Jesus who, even while up on the cross, prayed for and forgave them strikes all viewers deeply,” they said.

The American couple said they were amazed the Islamic government allowed the film to be released.

“Many moviegoers react to the film,” they said, according to Asia Times. “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.”

Qatar is a Persian Gulf state, bordered by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, used as a base for the U.S. war in Iraq.

The film’s popularity has prompted some theaters to cancel showings of other films in order to put “The Passion” on more screens.

The English language daily Peninsula Qatar reported 66,321 tickets were sold in the first three days, surpassing the record once held by Matrix Reloaded, which had sold 59,000.

Qatar’s population is about 730,000.

Editor’s note: Coinciding with the release of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” WorldNetDaily has issued one of the most extraordinary editions of its monthly Whistleblower magazine ever produced, titled “THE DAY JESUS DIED.”

Read WorldNetDaily’s extensive coverage of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

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