/ 10 June 2011

Lebanon gets holier-than-thou with Gaga

Lebanese officials have reportedly banned Lady Gaga’s new album, deeming it “offensive to Christianity”. Police have impounded copies of Born This Way, currently topping the charts from London to Tokyo. Its recent single, Judas, has been criticised by Catholic groups and was banned from Lebanese radio in April.

Boxes of Born This Way were impounded as they arrived at Beirut international airport last week, according to the Los Angeles Times. Though officials first claimed to be “deciding what to do” with the albums, there are now reports of a ruling based on article 75 of Lebanon’s law for distribution of print media: “Distributors are prohibited from circulating media that diverges from public decency and morality, or is at odds with nationalistic or religious beliefs.”

As a song, Judas is scarcely filled with heresy: “I’m just a holy fool,” Gaga sings, “but I’m still in love with Judas.” The video is a little more controversial, borrowing the kind of imagery Madonna used in the 1980s. Gaga flounces with biker-gang versions of the disciples, flirting with Judas, Jesus and everybody else.

Any government ban of the song would apparently have to have been requested by Lebanon’s Catholic Information Centre. “If they are going to offend us we are going to cancel the album,” explained Father Abdo Abu Kassm, director of the centre. Meanwhile, Lebanon’s information ministry insisted that it “is against all forms of censorship”.

Information Minister Tarek Mitri previously worked to lift a ban on the animated film, Persepolis, which was accused of being “offensive to Iran and Islam”. But Mitri’s opinion is only academic, the final ruling seems to have been made by the office of general security. —