The Barbie movie was pulled from cinemas in Algeria this week, almost one month after its release in the North African country.
Neither the ministry nor the Algerian Audiovisual Regulatory Authority commented on the reported directive or provided a rationale for it.
Barbie opened in some Algerian cinemas last month. The film’s distributors removed the Hollywood blockbuster from their screening schedules starting this week.
The move comes after authorities in Kuwait and Lebanon banned the movie over its themes on gender and sexuality.
Some people in Algeria protested the cancellation on social media, posting their complaints along with the hashtag “#IAmBarbie”.
Others denounced it as “censorship” and “bigotry”.
“The Barbie film ‘is a threat to morality,’ they say,” writer Leila Belkacem posted on her Facebook page. “What morality are they talking about when the censors gorge on porn films at home? Aren’t you tired of dragging the country into your dark delusions?”
Fatima Ait Kaci, a retired teacher, told The Associated Press she had promised to take her two granddaughters, who were visiting from Canada, to see the movie. Ait Kaci said she heard what had happened to Barbie only when they arrived at the Riadh El Feth cinema in Algiers and discovered another film showing in the 3pm to 5pm time slot.
Algerian authorities “don’t have the courage to take responsibility for this shameful act of censorship,” she said.
Last week, the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority announced its decision to “temporarily” suspend all programming by private TV channel Es Salam for allegedly broadcasting “in an irresponsible and unprofessional manner, a program containing scenes contrary to the precepts of Islam and the way of life of Algerian society”.
Directed by Greta Gerwig, Barbie stars Margot Robbie as the eponymous doll, alongside Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s boyfriend, Ken.
It contains no overtly sexual scenes or references to LGBTQ+ rights, but it seems to have drawn fire because of its sheer flamboyance and broad message of inclusion and gender equality in a region where same-sex sexual acts are illegal.
The Warner Bros film has grossed over $1bn worldwide since its release, making it the highest-grossing release for a female director in history.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.
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