Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon bans a film…about Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It was no coincidence that the Lebanese general security apparatus withdrew a license it had issued for the screening of Iranian film “Green Days” – directed by the Iranian Hana Makhmalbaf – only a few days after the formation of the new Lebanese government. This new government has directly placed Lebanon – where Hezbollah and those behind it are now holding the reigns of power – at the heart of a regional conflict.

Although this is something that, of course, Hezbollah and those behind it have tried to play down

The Iranian film was scheduled to be screened at the Beirut International Film Festival’s “Forbidden Film Festival.” The license for this screening was issued by the former caretaker government. However this license was later revoked after the newly-formed Mikati government took office. The Lebanese general security apparatus had previously sought to prevent the screening of this same film at a film festival held in Beirut last year, as it coincided with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon, and indeed the film was prevented from being screened on that occasion.

So why should a film about the Iranian Green Revolution cause all this fuss, particularly when it was only going to be screened before a small audience? This is despite the fact that this film is available in full on YouTube, and has been watched by tens of thousands of people, which is many times more than those who could have watched the film at the film festival.

Certainly, the act of banning the film will not prevent people from watching it. Indeed even the most enthusiastic censor must be aware of the fact that in this digital age the act of banning the film only serves to grant it greater publicity.

Therefore the banning of this film served a clear and unmistakable message…

This ban is nothing more than an attempt to put a lid on one of the topics of discussion being raised in Lebanon and throughout the region today, namely the revolutions staged by the Iranian youth in 2009, which was quelled by brutal oppression and violence.

For the film “Green Days” to be allowed to be screened before the formation of the new government, and then for this to be banned afterwards, represents an exposure of the situation [in Lebanon] that is almost scandalous. We have heard time and again how this new government is not a Hezbollah government; however this assertion has clearly even failed to pass this first minor test. So what can we say about the forthcoming situation that Lebanon will face?

The same situation applies to the popular uprisings in Syria.

Prior to the formation of the new Lebanese government, Hezbollah and the forces allied with Iran and Syria were successfully able to impose a state of fear regarding media or cultural discussions about the current political uprising in Syria. The Lebanese media seemed confused and hesitant on this issue, appearing as if it completely supported the [Syrian] regime. Whilst sympathy towards the Syrian political uprising and the oppression being suffered by the Syrian demonstrators seemed unjustifiably weak and timid.

Hezbollah is no different than Iran or Syria in terms of its approach to cultural and media issues and it would be extremely dangerous if Hezbollah is allowed to impose this situation on Lebanon.

There can be no doubt that the challenges that Lebanon will have to face in the near future are a cause for concern, and the issue of banning this Iranian film is just the beginning.