Authorities in Lebanon have made a last-minute decision to ban the Hollywood superhero movie 'Wonder Woman' because it stars an Israeli, Gal Gadot, as the heroine. Distributors slammed the move as 'very frustrating.'
Cinemas in Beirut were removing "Wonder Woman" posters on Thursday after multiple security sources said the government would not allow the film to be shown. A premiere scheduled for Wednesday had also been canceled.
Anti-Israel campaigners praised the ban, which is based on the Lebanese policy of boycotting Israeli products and preventing its citizens from traveling to the neighboring country.
"Congratulations to resistance," Samah Idriss, a founder of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon, said on her Facebook page.
"Normalization was dealt a blow with the prevention of the film of the Israeli soldier," she added, referring to actress Gal Gadot, who performed the mandatory two-year military service for Israeli women.
'First and foremost she is Israeli'
Israel and Lebanon are officially in a state of war and the last major conflict saw hundreds of Lebanese civilians lose their lives in 2006. More recently, Israel targeted members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia fighting in Syria. Gadot also drew ire for her comments on the 2014 Israeli bombing of Gaza, when she said she was praying for soldiers "risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children."
The Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel in Lebanon also tried unsuccessfully to banthe 2016 blockbuster "Batman v Superman," which introduces Gadot as the DC-inspired Amazon princess.
Anti-Israel activist Idriss called the latest decision a "victory," and vowed to work on "banning any similar films." Another campaigner, Rania Masri, said it was a "joyous moment."
"First and foremost she is Israeli. We don't distinguish between a good Israeli and a bad Israeli," she said.
Warner Brothers declines comment
Some Lebanese social media users complained about the campaign, mocking it as a waste of time because viewers would be able to find the film online.
"Liberating Palestine one movie at a time. #LiveLoveCensorship," jabbed the Stop Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon group, which promotes freedom of expression.
After several disappointing entries on DC heroes, the "Wonder Woman" film seems set to win over critics
Movie distributors also pointed out that they already had all the required permissions to show the movie.
"It's very frustrating," said Tony Chacra, managing director of the distributor Joseph Chacra and Sons. "The movie has nothing to do with Israel."
"It cost money and advertising ... Everything was going normally until a few days ago when a campaign began."
Several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman, would show the movie, Chacra said.
The US film producers Warner Brothers declined to comment on the controversy.
dj/rt (dpa, Reuters)