Lebanese hit out over US drama Homeland's 'lies' in depiction of Beirut

 

The Lebanese have grown used to their capital city of Beirut being used as a synonym for destruction and violence. But a recent episode of the hit US drama Homeland was apparently one negative portrayal too far, and now the government is threatening to sue the makers of the show.

The country's tourism minister, Fady Abboud, hit out at the show for its “lies” following the airing of the latest episode of the Golden Globe-winning show, which featured Beirut as its backdrop, and is now planning to take legal action against its producer and director.

In the episode in question, the show's heroine - a CIA agent named Carrie, played by Claire Danes - dodges bullets and flees turban-wearing bad guys on rooftops across the city. Later, a band of heavily-armed fighters from the Shia militant party Hezbollah ride on the back of a pick-up truck to a terrorist meeting in Beirut's Hamra Street, roughing up bystanders as they go. Chaos ensues when an assassination attempt by the CIA goes wrong, and gunfire fills the air.

“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,” Mr Abboud told Executive magazine. “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.” Mr Abboud said that the show, which is broadcast in 20 countries worldwide, could harm Lebanon's already beleaguered tourism industry.

“This series has a lot of viewers and if you are promoting Lebanon as a non-secure zone it will affect tourism. It will mean a lot of foreigners stay away if they are convinced by what they see,” he said.

He added: “Beirut is one of the most secure capitals in the world, more secure than London or New York.”

The minister also took exception to the decision by the show's producers to film the episode in Haifa, Israel - a country with which Lebanon is still technically at war.

“We would like to welcome the crews here to film in this city - we were offended by the fact that they filmed the thing in Israel and said it was Beirut,” he said.

The show's portrayal of Hamra Street, in particular, has irked many. The busy shopping street in the west of the city is perhaps Beirut's most famous thoroughfare, known for its bars and coffee shops- a stark contrast to the dilapidated alley in which terrorists battled it out in Homeland. Negative portrayals of Beirut in the media are nothing new.  The city has struggled to shake off its image of a rubble-strewn battleground that it earned during Lebanon's long civil war, which destroyed much of the country between 1975 and 1990.

One former resident of the city grew so tired of the stream of articles and broadcasts in which the words “looks like Beirut” were used to describe scenes of destruction  that he started a blog to document them.

Jad Aoun, the author of the blog, named 'Looks Like Beirut', called Homeland's portrayal of the city “a mash-up of every conceivable generalization of the Arab World.”

“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.”

Showtime, the company behind the show, did not respond to a request for a comment.

The first series of Homeland, first broadcast in 2011, won a slew of awards, including six Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all