Borat: Banned in Middle East Countries

Dec 1, 2006–While Kazakhstan tabloid Karavan voted “Borat” best picture of the year, the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy, which is breaking boxoffice records in the U.S., has been banned by censors in every Arab country except Lebanon.

“Lebanon is the only country that’s passed it. All the Gulf, and even Egypt, has refused to clear it,” said Bassam Eid, theatrical director with Circuit Empire, which is repping pic’s release in the region.

It’s the picture’s gross-out humor that is proving troublesome for censors. “It’s vile, gross and extremely ridiculous,” said Yousuf Abdul Hamid, censor with Dubai’s Ministry of Information.

Several UAE censors reportedly walked out of the test screening in disgust. Hamid added that if all the offensive scenes — such as the naked wrestling match — were removed, all that would be left would be “a half-hour movie.”

Censorship remains a problem for Mideast distributors. Recently, Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” underwent 21 cuts in Kuwait to pass censors on account of its salty dialogue.

Kazakhstan is relentlessly lampooned in “Borat,” leading to problems in Russia and the former Soviet republic. But Kazakh presideny Nursultan Nazarbayev recently extended an invitation to the fictional reporter to visit the country.