[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 16:51 GMT
Lebanon rebuffs US over TV series
Lebanese officials have rejected a call by the United States to intervene over a mini-series being aired by the Hezbollah television channel, al-Manar.

Officials said the TV station enjoyed press freedom and questioned why Washington would want to interfere.

The US regards Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and says the television series is anti-Semitic.

The 26-part series is being aired during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which started this week.

The TV series, al-Shatat (the Diaspora) is a Syrian-made portrayal of the history of the Zionist movement from 1812-1948 and the creation of the state of Israel.

The United States has a strange conception of freedom of expression
Lebanese official
The US state department this week said it had complained to both Lebanon and Syria over the series, which includes scenes on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion - a document that historians believe was forged in Tsarist Russia, as a pretext for the persecution of Jews.

"We view these programmes as unacceptable," said state department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"Such programmes do not contribute to the climate of mutual understanding and tolerance that the Middle East so desperately needs."

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a document which alleges a Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world.

'Free publicity'

Lebanese officials have refused to interfere with al-Manar's programming.

"The United States has a strange conception of freedom of expression," an unnamed official told AFP news agency.

"What would they say if we tried to interfere with the way Fox News portrays Arabs, Muslims or Palestinians?"

Hezbollah has welcomed the US complaint, saying it has given the programme "a lot of free publicity".

The group's number two leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, told LBC television the programme was "an artistic work based on clear historical facts".

This is not the first time the US state department has complained about Arab TV programmes that contain references to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Last year it issued a strong protest against the broadcast of an Egyptian television programme, Horseman without a Horse. But the programme went ahead, and was also shown during the month of Ramadan.

Al-Manar is based in Beirut and broadcasts by satellite to much of the Middle East.

Mahathir unrepentant on Jews
21 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Malaysia defends speech on Jews
17 Oct 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Egypt TV series 'needs anti-Jew warning'
19 Nov 02  |  Middle East
US raps Egypt over 'harmful' series
16 Nov 02  |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific