CAIRO, Egypt — Hanan Nsour, a veiled, 21-year-old Muslim in Jordan, came out of “The Passion of the Christ” in tears and pronounced her verdict: Mel Gibson’s crucifixion epic “unmasked the Jews’ lies and I hope that everybody, everywhere, turns against the Jews.”
The Quran, though, says Jesus’s crucifixion never happened.

Such are the contradictions that are welling up as the Arab world deals with “The Passion,” even as the film draws large audiences in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries that have approved it for screening.

In the Arab world, openly voiced anti-Semitism — and by extension the warm reception for “The Passion” — is bound up in the Arab conflict with Israel. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, after watching the film at his compound in the West Bank, was quoted by an aide as likening Jesus’ suffering to the Palestinians’.

While this highlights the obvious anti-Semitic potential of the movie, there is a bigger and much more important point: the story is a denunciation of humanity itself.