Lebanon ministry calls for ban of Wonder Woman film

A ban would require a recommendation from a six-ministry-member committee, a process that has not yet begun, a Lebanese security official said.

A woman waves for a taxi in front of a digital billboard promoting the 2017 Wonder Woman movie in Beirut on May 30, 2017. Hussein Malla / AP Photo
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BEIRUT // Lebanon's ministry of economy is seeking to ban this year's Wonder Woman film because its lead actress – Gal Gadot – is an Israeli, though a formal request for a ban has not yet been received, a Lebanese security official said on Tuesday.

A ban would require a recommendation from a six-ministry-member committee, a process that has not yet begun, the official said.

An advance premiere of the film is scheduled for Wednesday in at least one cinema in Beirut, which offers its members attending the show free popcorn. Posters of the film and digital billboards have sprouted up around the Lebanese capital.

Lebanon is officially at war with Israel and has a decades-old law that boycotts Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from travelling or having contacts with Israelis.

A boycott group, called Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon, has campaigned against showing the film in Lebanon. The campaign on its Facebook page praised the ministry’s call, saying it is advocating a ban because Gadot was a soldier in the Israeli army, and has expressed support for Israel’s military policies against the Gaza Strip.

Gadot praised the Israeli military during Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, in a widely shared post on her Facebook page. The post sent prayers to Israeli soldiers “who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas.”

Officials at the Lebanese economy ministry were not immediately available for comment. The security official said banning a film would be something that would ultimately come from the country’s interior minister, following a recommendation from the six-member committee.

Despite the controversy in Lebanon, Wonder Woman is set to open as scheduled on Thursday in cinemas across the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait. It is scheduled for release in Oman on June 22 and in Bahrain on June 29.

The Israeli actress has also appeared in reprisals of the Fast and Furious, none of which were banned in Lebanon. Crowned Miss Israel, she went on to serve the mandatory two-year military service in Israel, before starting her acting career. She was cast in a series of Hollywood films and shows, before landing the role of Wonder Woman in last year's Batman Vs Superman.

That was when the Lebanese campaign against Gadot's movies began, as the same campaigners sought to bar Batman Vs Superman. The film was shown in Lebanese cinemas, however.

* Associated Press