Tuesday, October 9, 2012

An Odd Sub-Plot to the Lebanese Orthodox Search for a Political Identity

So, aside from the major story of the rise and fall of the idea for a "Civil Commission", we have this unexpected news item today, in English here at the Daily Star:

Lebanon Bans 'Fetih 1453' from Theaters

BEIRUT: Turkish director Faruk Aksoy’s “Fetih 1453” has been banned from Lebanon’s theaters because it is offensive to Orthodox Christians.

“Fetih 1453” tells the story of Mehmet II, who ascends to the Ottoman throne after the deaths of his father Murat II and brother Osman Erciyes. More powerful than ever, he inherits the throne with the conquest of Constantinople as his main priority.

With a phenomenal budget estimated at $18 million, Aksoy’s film was well-received in Turkey, but Greece accused it of obscuring key facts.

That same negative perspective has been felt by the Orthodox community in Lebanon, where a sit-in was held on Sept. 29 in Sassine Square to denounce the film’s “offense to Christian civilization” – a reaction which calls to mind recent protests in the Muslim world due to the anti-Islam film.

Local media said the film was banned over its falsification of dates and insults to Christianity. A few days ago, Rodrigue Khoury, a member of the “Al-Machreq” party, said on a local television channel that “the message behind the movie is to bring conflict between cultures.”


Lebanese law basically allows for the banning of any media that anyone could construe as religiously offensive, and it would be hard not to see Fetih 1453's portrayal of Christians as deliberately offensive. The interesting thing, though, is that the impetus for banning the film seems to follow this protest, organized by a group that until recently was called the 'Orthodox Party' but which, as of October 4 of this year is officially registered in Lebanon as Hizb el-Machreq, "Party of the Levant". This group seemed until recently to have largely only had existence on Facebook as a longstanding pet project of a lawyer named Rodrigue Khoury, and so managing to get the film banned is quite a significant public relations victory. Interviews with Khoury about his party can be read here and here. A strong rebuke of the party's principles by Fr. Georges Massouh, originally published in the magazine of the Orthodox Youth Movement, can be read here.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I enjoyed the movie as a typical war movie, and as is always the case, such movies are never historically accurate and always portray one side in a favorable light.