Lebanon’s interior ministry has officially banned the new Wonder Woman film from cinemas because an Israeli actress plays the lead role, a ministry source and a security official said.
An interior ministry source said on Wednesday it had issued an order to ban the movie, which stars former Israeli army soldier Gal Gadot, based on a recommendation from the General Security directorate.
The movie is based on a comic book character introduced in 1941, fighting villains, rescuing victims and unearthing evil plots.
The distributor for Warner Brothers in the region said the movie was set to premiere officially in most of Beirut’s major cinemas on Wednesday night, after private showings had been held the day before.
The public release screenings were cancelled a few hours in advance. Lebanon’s Grand Cinemas announced the ban on its Twitter feed.
— Grand Cinemas Lebanon (@GCLebanon) May 31, 2017
“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” Gadot wrote in a Facebook post during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014.
“Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children … We shall overcome!!!”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Ministry of Economy said that it had asked the General Security directorate to prevent screenings of Wonder Woman owing to Gadot’s role in the film.
Israel fought a month-long war with its Lebanese foe Hezbollah in 2006, and has targeted the Iran-backed armed group with strikes in Syria in recent years, but there has been no major direct confrontation.
Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. About 160 Israelis were also killed in the fighting.
A UN-monitored ceasefire has largely held since the 2006 war, which also displaced a million people in Lebanon.
The movie triggered controversy last year when the character of Wonder Woman was chosen as an honorary UN ambassador to fight for gender equality.
Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition, saying the fictional character was an inappropriate choice and that its evolution into a scantily clad and curvaceous heroine did not represent gender empowerment.
The United Nations abruptly ended the character’s role two months into her appointment.