Le­banon seeks to ban ‘Won­der Woman’

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - ENTERTAINMENT NEWS - BY SARAH EL DEEB

BEIRUT — Le­banon is seek­ing to ban the new “Won­der Woman” movie be­cause its lead ac­tress, Gal Gadot, is an Is­raeli — a re­flec­tion of how the decades-old an­i­mos­ity be­tween the two neigh­bors is also in­fused in the cul­tural scene.

A se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said a for­mal re­quest for a ban has not yet been re­ceived.

A ban would re­quire a rec­om­men­da­tion from a six-mem­ber com­mit­tee from the Min­istry of Econ­omy, a process that has not yet be­gun, the of­fi­cial said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to talk to re­porters.

A pre­miere of “Won­der Woman” is sched­uled for to­day in at least one cinema in Beirut. Posters of the movie and dig­i­tal bill­boards have sprouted up around the Le­banese cap­i­tal.

Le­banon is of­fi­cially at war with Is­rael and has a decades­old law that boy­cotts Is­raeli prod­ucts and bars Le­banese cit­i­zens from trav­el­ing or hav­ing con­tacts with Is­raelis. The two coun­tries have been

through a num­ber of wars, in­clud­ing a par­tic­u­larly dev­as­tat­ing one in 2006 that bat­tered Le­banon’s in­fras­truc­ture and left hun­dreds dead.

A group called Cam­paign to Boy­cott Sup­port­ers of Is­rael-Le­banon has pressed an ef­fort against the movie. On its Face­book page, the cam­paign said Gadot was a soldier in the Is­raeli army and has ex­pressed sup­port for Is­rael’s mil­i­tary poli­cies against the Gaza Strip, a coastal Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory run by the mil­i­tant group Ha­mas.

“The state took the right

de­ci­sion,” Samah Idriss, a mem­ber of the boy­cott cam­paign told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “We now await the im­ple­men­ta­tion. … Even if it is one hour be­fore the show, they should ban it any­way.”

Ten­sions have been ris­ing be­tween Is­rael and Hezbol­lah, with Is­raelis re­port­edly bomb­ing sev­eral Hezbol­lah tar­gets in Syria in re­cent months. Is­rael has sig­naled that the tar­gets were smug­gling sophisticated weapons to Le­banon. Hezbol­lah of­fi­cials said re­cently they are not seek­ing war but are ready for it.

On her Face­book page, Gadot had praised Is­rael’s mil­i­tary dur­ing the 2014 Gaza-Is­rael war, send­ing prayers to sol­diers “who are risk­ing their lives pro­tect­ing my coun­try against the horrific acts con­ducted by Ha­mas.”

Of­fi­cials at Le­banon’s Econ­omy Min­istry did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment. The se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said ban­ning a movie would ul­ti­mately come from the coun­try’s in­te­rior min­is­ter fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion from the six-mem­ber com­mit­tee.

Warner Bros., which has re­leased the film, de­clined com­ment.

Even though Le­banon en­joys a greater mar­gin of free­dom of ex­pres­sion than other coun­tries in the re­gion, prior cen­sor­ship re­mains in place, par­tic­u­larly with con­tent re­lat­ing to Is­rael, re­li­gion and ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity.

Re­flect­ing tight­en­ing of cen­sor­ship, the Egyp­tian movie “Mawlana,” about a celebrity Mus­lim cleric, and a Le­banese movie, “Beach House,” about friends dis­cussing their iden­ti­ties, were banned in Le­banon ear­lier this year.

PHOTO BY CLAY ENOS/WARNER BROS. EN­TER­TAIN­MENT VIA AP

Gal Gadot stars in “Won­der Woman.” The movie will be in the­aters Friday.

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