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Award-winning Iranian movie banned by authorities

(MAHARAT/IFEX) - On 22 March 2008, the Directorate General of the General Security banned "Empire Theaters" (Circuit Empire) from screening a French version of the animated movie "Persepolis" of Iranian writer Marjane Satrapi. The movie is based on the autobiographical bestselling graphic novel about an Iranian girl growing up in Iran during the Iranian revolution.

The General Security did not justify the reasons behind this ban though these reasons - according to Theoretical Director with Circuit Empire Bassam Eid - are related to the content of the movie which criticises the Iranian regime during the period in which the writer lived in Iran and the difficult experience she went through.

It is worth mentioning that the film was awarded the Jury Prize during the Cannes Film Festival in 2007 and was screened in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) theatres, where it was restricted to persons above 15 years of age.

Movies in Lebanon are subjected to censorship by the General Diroctrate of the General Security before they are played in theatres based on a law issued on 27 November 1947. Violations of the law can lead to movie theatre closures ranging from 15 days to three months.

In this context, Maharat Foundation wants to underscore the necessity to protect the freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the audience's right to be informed about all opinions and beliefs and to have access to all sorts of information without considering geographical borders or any other restrictions set by the state. These restrictions contradict the values and customs of democratic societies which represent a free space to discuss all opinions and beliefs and criticisms that concern the public.

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