(Photo: Joe Alblas)
The producers of the hit TV miniseries "The Bible" have released a statement calling recent claims that they intentionally made the devil character look like President Barack Obama "utter nonsense."
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the husband-and-wife executive producer team behind The History Channel miniseries, released the statement Monday amid many claims that the miniseries' depiction of Satan and Obama looked alike.
"The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics – including Satanic characters – long before Barack Obama was elected as our President," said Burnett and Downey.
"This is utter nonsense."
Watched by millions, "The Bible" miniseries aired its third part Sunday evening, as it went through the early life of Jesus. When the devil made an appearance in the script, social media was abuzz with claims that Lucifer was purposely made to look like President Obama.
The United Kingdom publication the Daily Mail credited conservative radio and talk show host Glenn Beck with being the first to publicly announce the similarity on Twitter.
"'Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like That Guy?" tweeted Beck, adding a link to a picture.
From there the Tweets accelerated, with many wondering and agreeing with Beck over the similarity.
For its part, The History Channel also released a statement in response to the outcry, saying the claim of the Satan-Obama resemblance is a "false connection."
"History channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. The Bible is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history," reads the History Channel's statement.
"Both Mark and I 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," added Downey.
The Bible miniseries is a 10-hour docudrama of the stories of the Old and New Testaments, divided into five two-hour episodes. The last episode will air on Easter Sunday.