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Lebanon reverses ban on Spielberg film after Israel controversy

Boycotting Spielberg is seen as a part of a larger 'cultural boycott of Israel' [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 January, 2018

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In a rare move, the interior ministry chose not to sign off on the decision by the General Security to ban Steven Spielberg's latest film, The Post.
Lebanon's interior ministry will allow the release of Steven Spielberg's latest film, The Post, overturning a ban by the General Security authority, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The security body announced it was banning the Hollywood thriller on Monday to comply with an Arab League boycott targeting supporters of Israel.

In a rare move, the interior ministry chose not to sign off on the decision by the General Security, which in addition to controlling Lebanon's borders, is responsible for censoring films, plays, and books.

"Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouk is going to allow the film to be shown," a senior ministry official said.

The company distributing the film in Lebanon confirmed that the film, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks would be released in cinemas in Beirut and elsewhere on Thursday.

The acclaimed production tells the behind-the-scenes story of the 1971 publication by The Washington Post of the Pentagon Papers, which exposed the lies behind US involvement in the Vietnam War.

Lebanon is divided on the boycott-driven bans, with some welcoming them as a bulwark against the "cultural normalisation" of Israel's occupation.

When the ban was initially imposed by Lebanon's General Security authority (DGSG), they did so under the premise that Spielberg "is blacklisted by the Arab League's boycott office, which Lebanon complies with", according to a DGSG official.

But banned films can often be found in bootleg movie shops across the country for as little as one dollar, and even blacklisted books can sometimes be found in regular bookstores.

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