"The Bible" executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey say the notion that the devil in the miniseries is supposed to resemble President Obama is "utter nonsense."
The miniseries set Twitter aflame Sunday night because the actor playing the devil looks the way the president might in several years. Obama's critics jested about the resemblance, while his supporters wondered if the casting was intended as propaganda.
“This is utter nonsense," Burnett and Downey said in a statement Monday. "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.”
History, which airs the show, also said the resemblance was not intentional.
“History channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors," the network said in a statement. "It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History’s ‘The Bible’ is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”
Two years ago, History found itself in the midst of another political dispute when it decided not to air the miniseries "The Kennedys" because of allegations from the left that it had a right-wing slant.
And last year, HBO's "Game of Thrones" came under criticism when its executive producers said in a DVD commentary that a fake head of President George W. Bush was impaled on a spike in one scene.
"The Bible" has been a huge hit for History, drawing 13.1 million for its first episode and 10.8 million for its second.
Burnett and Downey are married, and Downey, a Catholic known for her role on "Touched by an Angel," portrays Jesus' mother, the Virgin Mary, in the miniseries.
Last week, one of the executive producers of "The Bible," Scott Sassa, resigned as Hearst's entertainment and syndication president after what the New York Post described as a sexting scandal involving a stripper.