BEIRUT: Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Safa, the head of the publications department of Lebanon’s General Security, issued a media statement Wednesday confirming that “Born This Way,” the latest album by American celebrity Lady Gaga, had not been banned.
“Several Lebanese and foreign media outlets have reported that the Lebanese General Security has banned the entry and distribution of singer Lady Gaga’s album,” the statement read. “The directorate-general of General Security would like to clarify the following: The Lebanese General Security has not issued a decision to ban the entry and distribution of this album but rather the General Security has approved the entry and distribution of the album on Lebanese markets.”
The online edition of the Los Angeles Times Monday quoted an anonymous official from the censorship office of general security as saying his colleagues had “collected the CDs on the grounds that the music was offensive to religion. They are still in our offices. We are still deciding what to do with them.”
It was assumed that any banning of the CD would be grounded in Article 75 of the 1962 Lebanese Law for distribution of print media, which prohibits “circulating media that diverges from public decency and morality, or is at odds with nationalistic or religious beliefs.”
It is customary in Lebanon for state censorship decisions to be made in consultation with the country’s religious authorities. In this case, the authority in question is the Catholic Information Center.
The online edition of the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper quoted Tuesday Catholic Information Center director Father Abdo Abu Kassm as saying: “If they are going to offend us we are going to cancel the album. We will not accept that anyone insult the Virgin Mary or Jesus or Christianity …”
Abu Kassm told The Daily Star Tuesday that the center had not made any request for Lady Gaga’s CD to be banned in Lebanon.
An employee of Virgin Megastore told The Daily Star Wednesday that the CD had been available to the public since Tuesday evening. He expressed frustration with irresponsible media which incorrectly reported that “Born This Way” had been banned.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 09, 2011, on page 16.