Lebanon threatens to sue over Homeland's portrayal of Beirut
Beirut unhappy that its cosmopolitan streets have been portrayed by TV series as a 'hotbed of terrorists'
LEBANON is seeking to take legal action against American TV series Homeland for portraying Beirut as "a city of Kalashnikov and war".
The second episode of the new series of the US drama, shown in the UK on Sunday night, shows CIA agents hunting terrorists through the hostile-looking streets of 'Beirut'.
But Fadi Abboud, Lebanon's minister of tourism, who has spent a small fortune trying to revive the country's 1960s reputation as the 'Paris of the Middle East', expressed outrage at the "serious misrepresentation" of the city.
Beirut residents have pointed out that the real Hamra Street, depicted in Homeland as a dilapidated alley teeming with terrorists, is in reality a bustling cosmopolitan road of shops, cafes and bars. The Lebanese government is planning to sue Homeland's producer and director, because of its concerns that the show - broadcast in 20 countries worldwide - could harm Lebanon's already beleaguered tourism industry.
"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," Abboud told Executive magazine. "We want to take action, we want to write to the filmmakers and producers and demand an apology."
The fact that the Beirut scenes were actually filmed in neighbouring Israel, a country which Lebanon is still technically at war with, has also offended Abboud.
"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," said Abboud. "Beirut is one of the most secure capitals in the world, more secure than London or New York."
The Daily Telegraph points out that The New York Times ranks Beirut as a must-see destination and Lonely Planet lists it as one of the 10 greatest comeback cities in the world.
Abboud has called on young Lebanese adults to write blogs, call BBC and CNN and create YouTube clips "to raise awareness that Beirut is not a city of Kalashnikov and war".