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LEBANON: Lady Gaga's newest album seized as potentially offensive to Christians [Video]

Boxfuls of Lady Gaga's newest album "Born this Way" were intercepted and impounded at Beirut's international airport by Lebanese authorities late last week as potentially offensive to the country's Christian population. 

Despite having sold millions of copies worldwide, Lady Gaga's album isn't for sale in Lebanese music stores for now. Instead, cartons of the new release are stacked in police offices. But officials cautioned that no final decision had been made on whether Lady Gaga's sizzling hot second studio release would be formally banned.  

"We collected the CDs on the grounds that the music was offensive to religion," said one official from the office of censorship, which is part of the country's notorious General Security, a powerful branch of the Ministry of Interior. "They are still in our offices. We are still deciding what to do with them."

He refused to give his name without citing any reason for insisting on anonymity.

Lady gaga

Lady Gaga's latest album is filled with Christian imagery. Having received a traditional Catholic upbringing, the singer is infamous for her provocative music, drawing on themes of religion and sexuality. 

The video above is for one of the album's songs, "Judas," which was banned from Lebanese radio stations earlier last April.

The music video presents the 12 disciples of Christ as rugged bikers in leather jackets dancing around the singer who is part of a love triangle with the handsome and enticing depictions of Judas and Jesus, the latter adorned with the crown of thorns.

"In the most biblical sense, I am beyond repentance," she sings.

Shaky Lebanon's 17 offically recognized religious groups include Muslims, Druze and various Christian denominations. They're all pretty thin-skinned when it comes to religious references -- and the law errs on the side of banning anything potentially inflammatory. Music that refers to religious figures or Israel is directly censored by the Lebanese General Security in a joint effort with the Ministry of Information.

Any decision to ban the album would be in accordance with Article 75 of the 1962 Lebanese Law for distribution of print media, which states that, “Distributors are prohibited from circulating media that diverges from public decency and morality, or is at odds with nationalistic or religious beliefs."

Music fans are hoping for a compromise.Occasionally the office of censorship at Lebanon's General Security headquarters edits offensive material without issuing a complete ban.

Fady Masoud, senior music supervisor at Virgin Megastore's main branch in Lebanon, is hoping that the censorship office will black out song titles such as "Judas" and "Bloody Mary" on the CD case and then allow the album to circulate in the market instead of completely banning it.

“We care that this CD be released because it will produce great revenue," he said. "Lady Gaga has a huge fan base in Lebanon."

Because of Lady Gaga's super-high profile, the case has already attracted the attention of some powerful figures. The office of the information minister in Lebanon’s caretaker government, Tarek Mitri, issued a statement on Monday that "they were awaiting decisions about the album to be taken but that the Minister is, and always has been, against all forms of censorship and has worked on ending censorship in Lebanon."

In the past, Mitri was successful in calling for the ban on the film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis to be lifted. The animated movie was initially prohibited from Lebanese theaters for being "offensive to Iran and Islam."

But Mitri is kind of powerless. The decision to either ban or allow the album was neither that of the General Security nor the Ministry of Information, but that of the Catholic Information Center, a spokesman at his office said.

Christian elders say they'll weigh in on the album soon. 

“If they are going to offend us we are going to cancel the album," said Father Abdo Abu Kassm, director of the Catholic Information Center. "We will not accept that anyone insult the Virgin Mary or Jesus or Christianity. We have dignity. Call us traditional, call us backward, call us whatever you want. We will not accept it."

The case has already stirred outrage among Lebanese who think the country would be better served if officials spent their time forming a government or fixing the country's dilapidated electricity network than poring over Lady Gaga's lyrics in search of racy innuendos. 

“Lebanese authorities cannot form a functional government but manage to ban Lady Gaga's album, due to religious sensitivities," said Lebanese university graduate Dyala Badran. "I think they need to get their priorities straight.” 

As the fate of the album remains unknown, Lebanese work their way around the system to get their hands on the international hit. Some are trying to download it off the internet. Others are trying to use a more traditional Lebanese method: wasta, or inside connections.

"They come here and swear that they will get the CD by using their family ties to pressure officials in the government,” said Masoud, of the Virgin record store.

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Photo: Tormented Lady Gaga stands between Jesus, left, and Judas in the music video for the song "Judas" from her new album, now under review by Lebanese authorities. Credit: Interscope Records

Comments () | Archives (70)

@Corey Mondello

You've got it twisted sista...Christians PEACEFULLY oppose gay marriage, etc. It's Islam that proscribes the DEATH PENALTY for BEING gay. When it comes to oppressing women, gays & FORMER believers...NO other 21st-century global religion can come close to matching the brutality of Islam in 2011.

oh how jealous the American conservative Christians are when theocracies around the globs can ban music, kill gays, and oppress minorities.

it seems to me that if a religious authority feels the need to "protect" the faithful from something as mundane as a pop song, they must think the people are weak-minded, otherwise they'd be able to make up their own minds rather than depend on the high officials to act as filters. if your faith can be shaken by a lady gaga lyric, maybe it wasn't that strong in the first place

@EmmanuelBernard: she was raised Catholic, Christian symbolism and mythology is what she's familiar with, unless you have evidence that she's made a study of Islam, why would she bother to invoke elements of a religion she has no affinity for and probably very little familiarity with? I live in western Canada and I've never been outside of this country, if I was a songwriter I doubt I'd be writing songs about life on the streets of Paris. it has nothing to do with cowardice and everything to do with what she knows.

P.S. get over yourself, it's a pop song, not a sermon.

After such a long-winded comment I shouldn't be chiming in again, but I have to. So many comments on this article talk about how the song "bashes" or "mocks" Christianity. I have a feeling that these people haven't actually read the lyrics. They probably picked up on a few key phrases (completely ignoring context) and/or decided that this is so because their priest said so.

It's using Christian imagery and metaphors in a way that hasn't been sanctioned or approved by a recognized church, *that* is its only crime. *Any* Christian references which are made by a performer who is not blatantly recognized as a Christian performer are going to be automatically be the subject of protest from these people, regardless of what the actual meaning might be.

agree 100% with Lebanon.

I am in total agreement with the Lebanese decision to pull the album.Anything related to the Madona wanna be Lady GaGa
is offensive!That says alot because i don't care for the muslim hypocrites,but they are absolutely right this time.If the Lebanese don't want Lady Gag Gag in Labanon then it's their right to stop it.

I'm surprised these posters are encouraging that a group steps in to control society based on their own religious ideologies. People (including myself) want smaller government, but I also don't want the church telling me how to live my life.

Lats time I checked we were living in a democracy with free speech. If you're offended by her music, don't buy it. I know my children can think for themselves and have the ability to make their own choices whether they want to buy her music.

You posters are unbelievable.

DUH!!!.. they do not know the meaning of her songs!!! sooo inspirational !!!
JUDAS - no matter how much i fall inlove with evil (judas) ... jesus is still my virtue...
HAIR - ... FREEDOM like your hair... and hair is the way to express yourself..:)
EDGE of glory -- << see the title :)

Shame on you peaople with nasty comments, you should have respect to God...

Thank you Lebanon for this attitude. All countries should follow your steps. No body has the right to offend God, Lady Gaga should be judged by US

I can say if you look at the video JUDAS, it is showing her in scanty clothes and full of Christian mockery. Judas was a the traitor of Jesus that committed suicide after turning Jesus in, even though Jesus was INNOCENT completely. The idea with Lady Gaga and what is behind her is simple>>> Brainwashing and manipulation of the masses, especially younger people. LOOK CLOSELY. How can Lady Gaga be anything good when she is doing everything OPPOSITE and also part of the satanic Illuminati? It is not about freedom when there are no morals in what she is doing. It is not an opinion when the facts are shown in her words, symbolism, makeup and actions. She speaks clearly of everything that is causing the issues with females and corruption worldwide. That is very tragic. You can't even go to a pool or Wal Mart without seeing girls in revealing clothing, tight shorts, shirts and pants, or girls that are wearing pajamas to the stores, and even bend over to reveal their breasts. LOOK AROUND EVERYWHERE PEOPLE! LOOK CLOSELY. It is all around you. And none of it is good at all!

Good, wish they would do that here. She is a no talent hack.

Lebanon steps up, w/ more Intelligence & heart than America does here!1

That's their culture and good for them for not caving to the pop culture phenom. I can't wait until this train wreck, lady gag gag is old (30) and long forgotten by the youth culture. She's immoral, disrespectful, and down right crude. She walks through airports in underwear, a bra and fish nets? She needs to get back into her closet and cover the pasty body up.

If a person doesn't like Gaga's music, don't buy it. It's just that simple.

In May my daughter married a young man who's father's entire family is from Lebanon. 6 family members flew over for the wedding. At the reception we played all kinds of music including Gaga. They had a blast, danced to everything and had a blast. I think it's the government and not the citizens who object. They need let their country come into 21st century.

The album is all hype, she's peaked and now a bore anyway. Hey! Lebanon! You're not missing anything!

If we're talking about what is against Christian standards, does Lebanon also forbid liars from entering the country?

"17 offically recognized religious groups include Muslims, Druze and various Christian denominations. They're all pretty thin-skinned when it comes to religious references"

 
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