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
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
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: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss