Friday, August 13, 2010

Stifling Barnabas

I have to admit that I never thought of Lebanese churches as "fandamentalist" until The DaVinci Code was banned 2004. It did not portray the Vatican favourably, but that did not  mean that Italy should ban it. Freedom of speech, after all, should at a minimum protect fiction! Not in Lebanon, alas, which enjoys the dubious honour of being, along with Sri Lanka and the Solomon Islands, one of the handful of countries to ban the movie and book.

A new twist in Lebanon's church-friendly censorship  has emerged.  Two TV stations with overwhelmingly Moslem audiences decided to stop airing a series depicting the life of Christ that was made in Iran.  There can be no doubt that the series is nothing more or less than the "approved" story of Christ as told by Iran's ayatollahs. After all, how many film directors in Iran would dare do otherwise? Notwithstanding this, the series has been yanked off the air after the Catholic Pastor of the Church of Byblos announced that it is offensive and it is based on the Gospel of Barnabas which is "not at all recognised by our Church."

He did not stop to think for a minute that Barnabas happens to coincide with the Koran. But that does not matter because Moslems would happily oblige. After all, they need "Christian" support the next time they are offended by an episode of South Park.

The only victim of this mutual masturbation is Lebanon's freedom of expression, or whatever is left of it.

Don't get me wrong: I have no interest in watching the series (though I probably would if I am paid enough to sit through it).  This said, we all should have the right to choose not to watch.

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