Lifestyle & Belief

Lebanon tourism minister threatens lawsuit against "Homeland" show


NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Claire Danes attends the "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)


Dimitrios Kambouris

"Homeland," the CIA drama on Showtime starring Claire Danes, is best known as the show that recently swept the Emmy awards. But Lebanon Tourism Minister Fady Abboud says that the show's most recent episode, "Beirut Is Back," is filled with "lies."

The episode depicts Beirut's Hamra Street as an undeveloped and dangerous place. Militiamen swarm the area, and later in the episode, Hamra is the site of a confrontation between men carrying assault rifles, CIA snipers and a Hezbollah leader.

Given that the real Beirut was recently the site of a car bomb, that portrayal may seem to make sense.

But West Beirut's Hamra Street is more urban than the fictional Hamra depicted on "Homeland," packed with cafes, book shops and pubs, according to the Associated Press.

And Lebanon's Executive magazine describes the real Hamra Street as "a bustling cosmopolitan artery" and "a hub of modern city life," a smaller version of London’s Tottenham Court Road or New York’s Fifth Avenue. Lebanese Tourism Minister Fady Abboud is now promising to sue the show creators.

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“This kind of film damages the image of Lebanon — it is not fair to us and it’s not true, it is not portraying reality,” Abboud told Executive. “We want to take action, we want to write to the filmmakers and producers and demand an apology. And we are planning to raise a lawsuit against the director and the producer.”

The actual episode was filmed in Israel, not Lebanon, which also bothered Abboud. But that aspect isn't really the show's fault, because Homeland's co-creator, Gideon Raff, is Israeli and Israel's citizens are barred from visiting Beirut, BBC News reported.

While it's expected for a tourism minister to stick up for his city, others are also annoyed by the episode. Jad Aoun, the author of the blog called '"Looks Like Beirut," says that the "Homeland" portrayal of Beirut was “a mash-up of every conceivable generalization of the Arab World," the Independent reported.

“Were the episodes taking place in the 70s and 80s, it could have passed for a slight resemblance of Beirut. Therein lies the problem: the civil war in Lebanon had such an impact on people's perception that Beirut is stuck in that perpetual state in people's minds," Aoun told the Independent.