Wonder Woman banned by Lebanon over Israeli lead Gal Gadot

Actress Gal Gadot arrives at the Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Wonder Woman' at the Pantages Theatre on May 25, 2017 in Hollywood, California.Image copyright
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Image caption

The titular character is played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot

Lebanon has banned superhero blockbuster Wonder Woman from cinemas, because the title character is played by an Israeli actress.

Gal Gadot was formerly in the Israeli army. Military service is compulsory in the country.

The Lebanese interior ministry banned the film hours before its release, on a recommendation from the General Security directorate, reports say.

The nations are officially at war, but have observed a ceasefire since 2006.

A formal request to ban Wonder Woman was first made by the Ministry of Economy and Trade, which oversees a long-standing policy of boycotting Israeli exports, which it considers “enemy attempts to infiltrate our markets”.

But the decision took cinemas by surprise. One of the first indications that the ban was approved came from Lebanon’s Grand Cinemas chain, which tweeted on Wednesday: “#WonderWoman has been banned in #Lebanon.”

Just 12 hours before, it had responded to a follower’s concerns, saying: “It won’t be banned dear.”

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The film was due to have had its Lebanese premiere in Beirut the same night.

Film distributor Tony Chacra of the company Joseph Chacra and Sons said that decision was “very frustrating”. “The movie has nothing to do with Israel,” he told the Reuters news agency.

As news of a possible ban spread, Lebanese users on social media site Reddit said publicity for the movie had been high.

“I am Lebanese and I’m seeing adds for WW everywhere in Beirut. Pretty much everyone of my friends want to see it. This is just a vocal minority [against it],” one user wrote.

Ms Galdot has previously appeared as Wonder Woman in 2016’s Batman v Superman, which was shown in Lebanese cinemas.

The Ministry of Economy and Trade had requested that movie be banned on the same basis, but was not successful.

Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement fought a brief war against Israeli forces in 2006. Since then, a United Nations-monitored ceasefire has largely been observed.

However, there have been occasional border clashes between the two countries, and Israel has targeted Hezbollah with strikes in Syria in recent years.