Aslan, the Christlike character in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, could also represent the prophet Mohammed, according to a startling new claim by Liam Neeson.
During his life C.S. Lewis was clear that the famous lion, who appears in all seven Narnia books, was based on Christ.
But Mr Neeson, who provides the voice of Aslan in the Narnia movies, said: “Aslan symbolises a Christlike figure, but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.”
The controversial comments have angered some of Lewis’ fans, and prompted accusations that Neeson has neglected the author’s legacy to be “politically correct”.
Walter Hooper, Lewis’ former secretary and a trustee of his estate, said: “It is nothing whatever to do with Islam. Lewis would have simply denied that.
“He wrote that ‘the whole Narnian story is about Christ’. Lewis could not have been clearer.”
And William Oddie, a former editor of the Catholic Herald and fan of the Chronicles of Narnia, said: “Aslan is clearly established from the very beginning of the whole canon as being a Christ figure.”
Throughout the seven Narnia novels Aslan steers the children away from evil and encourages them to take the right path.
And at the end of the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, entitled The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan sacrifices his life to save Narnia from an evil witch, before rising again.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third Narnia book to be made into a film, is due to be released later this week.
In 2009 it was revealed that an atheist children’s author was to use a new book to say that Jesus was not God, instead claiming the Apostle Paul imagined the idea.
In his book, entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman said the idea of Jesus being God came from the “fervid imagination” of Paul.
Mr Pullman is a strident atheist who has said his books aim at “killing God”. Critics have described his work as “proselytising”.
Mr Pullman is best known as the author of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, which has been seen as an atheistic rival to the Chronicles of Narnia.
The Golden Compass, a film adaptation of the first part of Mr Pullman’s trilogy, was deemed a box office failure when it was released in 2007. Plans for two further films completing the trilogy were shelved.