carnegie logo

Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next »

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)

What if she were to make a video about muhammad?

.."We collected the CDs on the grounds that the music was offensive to religion," If you value America's Constitution, think twice about the candidate for President. When a candidate places their religion and interpretation of scripture above secular law, we will all be in jeopardy since even among Christians, there are differences.

Most adults and some mature young people see this for what it really is. A money making idea, that's all. It doesn't matter if Gaga believes the way her songs are. This is a ploy to sell as many albums as possible. Madonna did it for years. The problem is it destroys the minds of youg people who are easily influenced by such crap and it could destroy their lives or at the very least keep them from maturing in a normal way.

Gaga is doing exactly what is expected from an artist in music and media world. Nothing is new here. If you want to be successful you need to fulfill criteria set for an artist by the media. The Jesus bashing is one of them. Actually if you say Jesus is Gay too, you have fulfilled 2 criteria and have increased your chances for success dramatically. The world of music and the media consist of such people with certain kind of thinking. No outsider is allowed. This is a free country you know, but in the world of artists nothing is free. You have to pay for everything.

Religion in general offends me. Can we ban that too?

I thank God that some country really shows interest in God.
All countrires that call themselves christians should have done the same thing but shame on us "Christians" we let all people make fun of us without saying anything. I thank Lebanon for this attitude and respect of Christianity, all countries shall do the same, even US shall judge Lady Gaga for this devilish action

Lebanon should be more concerned with their endless saga than Lady Gaga.

Check to see who really wrote the lyrics and created the video, and then find out their religious background. I doubt if either Christians or Muslims were major decision-makers of the production. I guess it just leaves Jews, non-Jewish agnostics, and we few atheists who are the culprits. We do know though who controlled the production for, say, Ice-T's Cop Killer, and virtually all of Madonna's anti-Christian/Catholic lyrics and videos. Take a guess.

PS: I would rather live in Beirut, Lebanon, minus Israeli covert interventions and ruthless aggression, than in about 40 states of our USA.

I haven't listened to the entire album yet, but I can see how conservative Christians would misconstrue the Judas song. Especially when it comes to that lyric "king with no crown" but here she is referencing Judas, not Jesus, and Judas never had crown, Jesus did (a crown of thorns), but he is her king nonetheless because she's in love with him. And she clings to him though, as she says, Jesus is her virtue. Not sure that's insulting.

What would you expect for a religion like the Catholic Church, whose Pope Pius XII was documented in aiding Hitler with the Holocaust? It's well documented in the book "Hitler's Pope" by John Cornwell.

“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.

"Offend you?" I see their sights aren't on Jesus.

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

Gaga is selling herself short. She can repent and still be long as it's part of God's grace.

Wow so many theological scholars abound with your demagouing about what Lady Gaga is or is not saying... LOL. I am amused you know her personal thoughts and ideas, especially since she is a Catholic, raised in the religion and educated at one of the finest prep schools in the country.

What that means baby haters?? Is she is way smarter than you good little bible thumpers pretend to be. As always you great and holy ones react to a word, a name and not the piece of WORK. That is how WE were taught - it's called critical thinking. Focus on the entire body of work, not a word. Confusing isn't it?

I know it's painful to think about and you won't be a blissful idiot but it does beat the alternative. Speaking as another Sacred Heart grad. LOL!

Oh, and LA Times you putz >" Lady Gaga's sizzling hot second studio release would be formally banned. " It's her 3rd relrease, morons.

Not that it really matters to the article, but there are 18, not 17, recognized sects.

Secularization of church and state is ruining America and other countries in a hurry folks-the rsults are in! You invite hell into your house/country expect all hell to break loose! This kind of garbage is a dime a dozen-be carefull what you ask for, you might get it! Show her she's crossed the line and stop buying her stuff! Madonna knock off wanna be gone mad!

She's just plain disgusting. Popular with the disco crowd.

If it was the Muslims of Lebanon who have baned this album all hell will break loose and this forum will be full of attacks on those backward Muslim fanatics ,but since its the Christians there are no condemnation of Christianity and Christians ...hypocrisy at its best or worst...

Good I am glad Lebanon is doing that! That freak needs to be banned everywhere!!

@Emmanuel 8:54AM: Why whould she make a song referencing Islamic religion when she herself is a Catholic?

That is why Arabs are chosen by God to carry the previllage of spreading religioun. Satan has control over the west and Lady Gaga is one of his soldiers. he must be proud of her if she doesnt repent she will burn in....u know what

« | 1 2 3 4 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

Recent News
Introducing World Now |  September 23, 2011, 8:48 am »



About the Contributors