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Satan cut from The Bible for looking like Barack Obama

'Son of God' producers have edited out the character to restore religious focus

Satan has been cut from The Bible for overshadowing Jesus Christ. Well, from a new version of the History Channel's hit miniseries of the same name that is.

Producers working on Son of God, a two-hour edit of the docudrama based on Jesus Christ, have "cast Satan out", according to film website The Wrap.

"It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting room floor," producer Roma Downey said of the maleficent character, played by Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni in The Bible.

Last year, Downey and co-producer Mark Burnett found themselves in the midst of a social media storm when Twitter users noticed that Ouazanni's Satan bore a strong resemblance to the US president, Barack Obama.

The producers have been quick to dismiss the casting decision as coincidental, claiming that the media "went nuts" over a "vague" similarity.

"I was sure everyone would only be talking about Jesus, but they were talking about Satan instead," said Downey in a statement on Monday. "For our movie, Son of God, I wanted all the focus to be on Jesus. I want his name to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so we cast Satan out."

Back in March, when the Obama resemblance was first discussed, the producers said: "The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzanni, has previously played parts in several Biblical epics - including satanic characters - long before Barack Obama was elected as our president.

"We have nothing but respect and love for our president, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible."

The original ten-hour run of The Bible aired in the US in March 2013, attracting 13.1 million viewers for its premier. 20th Century Fox releases the Son of God movie on Friday 28 February.