Top 10 Movies Banned in the Middle East

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A year and a half ago, giddy and hopeful in the wake of Obama’s inauguration, an unofficial but self-important delegation from Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (including actresses Annette Bening and Alfre Woodard, among others), set out for Iran as part of a “cultural exchange.”

Hard to fathom how America was supposed to benefit from the exchange, but cultural advisor Javad Shamaghdari told the Hollywood reps exactly what Iran wanted: “We will believe Obama’s policy of change when we see change in Hollywood too.” In other words, no more movies critical of Islam or Iran. That’s not all Shamaghdari demanded:

If Hollywood wants to correct its behavior towards Iranian people and Islamic culture then they have to officially apologize.

So Hollywood infidels are expected to publicly acknowledge and embrace their dhimmi status. Most Hollywood infidels would be right onboard with that. But not the following filmmakers.

We in the West usually take movies for granted and accord them little more significance than mere entertainment. But our Islamic enemies, like the Communists and Nazis before them, fully recognize the cultural power of cinema and work hard to control it. Movies, especially of the Western variety, are often banned as un-Islamic in sharia-controlled areas, especially ones that flaunt sexual immodesty (Sex and the City), homosexuality (even the merely metrosexual Zoolander), or the depiction of drug use.

That doesn’t mean that such movies don’t circulate underground; in very Westernized Iran, for example, the mullahs do their best to keep a lid on the populace’s preference for American cultural decadence, but pirated DVDs are eagerly consumed by viewers privately.

What follows is a mostly chronological list of ten movies that for various reasons particularly offended Islamic values or regimes in the Middle East, especially Iran, which takes any opportunity to spew blustery propaganda about our warmongering, cultural aggression. With the exception of the Oscar-nominated French-Iranian film Persepolis, which I chose because Iran rated it as “more dangerous” than 300, I limited my selections to well-known Hollywood feature films, although Iran’s Ahmadinejad banned all foreign films in late 2005 and even many from Iranian filmmakers.

10)         Not Without My Daughter

1991’s Not Without My Daughter, starring Sally Field and Alfred Molina, is a movie that probably no studio exec would dare “greenlight” today, thanks to a stultifying Hollywood environment of political correctness. Released only a few days before the Gulf War began, and based on one of the two “most hated” books in Iran (the other being Salman Rushdie’s infamously blasphemous The Satanic Verses), it depicts the daring real-life escape of American citizen Betty Mahmoody and her daughter from Iran.

Mahmoody was being kept a virtual prisoner by her husband, who beat and threatened her, and by his strictly devout family, who pressured her to conform to the life of a submissive Muslim wife. Though some Iranian characters in the film were treated sympathetically, Not Without My Daughter earned a ban from the Iranian leadership for embarrassing the mullahs and for exposing their oppression and the grim reality of life for women under sharia law.

9)        The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded was banned in Egypt in 2003 by a 15-member censor committee made up of film critics, professors, writers and psychologists. The committee said that

Despite the high technology and fabulous effects of the movie, it explicitly handles the issue of existence and creation, which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect and believe in. The movie tackles the issue of the creator and his creations, searching the origin of creation and the issue of compulsion and free will. Such religious issues, raised in previous times, caused crises.

But it wasn’t just the alternative concepts of divinity and free will that made the censors uncomfortable. Violence in the film also played a role:

Screening the movie may cause troubles and harm social peace.

The first Matrix was shown in Egypt but some claimed it promoted Zionism. An Egyptian movie critic said

The press launched a campaign to stop showing the movie, saying that it reflects Zionist ideas, and promotes Jewish and Zionist beliefs. That is why they are very cautious, to avoid any criticism this [time].

Ah, Jewish and Zionist beliefs. Can’t have those floating around out there in society, causing troubles and harming the social peace.

8)         Alexander

Oliver Stone’s 2004 epic about the life of Alexander the Great may not have set the box office on fire, but it certainly inflamed opinions in Iran because of its depiction of the embarrassing historical truth that the young conqueror, played by Colin Farrell with a distractingly Farah Fawcett-inspired hairstyle, decimated the Persian army under Darius III and destroyed the royal palace in Persepolis in 330 B.C., effectively ending the Persian Empire.

It didn’t help that the movie left little to the imagination about Alexander’s relationship with his boyhood companion Hephaistion, played by Jared Leto. As everyone knows since his appearance at Columbia University in 2007, President Ahmadinejad has asserted that such relationships don’t exist in Iran, and banning movies like Alexander will help keep things that way. That, and continuing to hang gay people.

7)         300

“Hollywood declares war on Iranians,” blared a Tehran newspaper headline upon the 2007 release of 300, the movie version of the graphic novel rendering of the famous last stand of a small but fearless Spartan force against waves of Persians, who are depicted as decadent, arrogant, and imperialistic – the same charges Ahmadinejad and the mullahs level at the U.S. today.

Cultural adviser Javad Shamghadri said of 300 that America was out to “humiliate” Iran, “reverse historical reality” and “provoke American soldiers and warmongers” against Iran.

The film depicts Iranians as demons, without culture, feeling or humanity, who think of nothing except attacking other nations and killing people.

In other words, much like President Ahmadinejad depicts Jews and Americans. One newspaper wrote,

It is a new effort to slander the Iranian people and civilization before world public opinion at a time of increasing American threats against Iran.

The accusation that 300 insults Persian heritage is ironic considering that since the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Iranian clerical leadership has done its level best to eradicate that same pre-Islamic Persian heritage; but then, nobody does irony like radical Muslims.

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  • kafir4life

    Hang on….Question here…….Would muslims be offended by pointing out that their made up moon god was invented by a pedophilic warlord rapist named mohamad? What would they say if it's pointed out that their holy terror guide the koran was shat from the anal orfice of that pedophile after eating a meal of raw pig? Would it be upsetting to them that islam began in this way?

    • Jewel

      Most likely, with seething and whining to erupt, followed by rioting and murdering their fellow Muslims. They are predictable that way, you know.

  • Ezra Mazal

    Offending goes both ways. Doesn't matter which side of the fence you are on! Lies and generalizations are probably the biggest offenders. Both sides have a problem with that. Islam should not criticize the west and not expect criticism in return.

    Appeasing radical Islamic leaders is totally offensive to any reasonable person. The last time the world did this, the end was a world war.

    • Fred Dawes

      Islam means hate and rape and murder nd the only good muslims is ?………..
      if a muslim had your kid that muslim would cut his or her head off. that is not generalization that is fact.

  • moshav

    Our existence offends muslims. That is why they are trying to end it. We need to take pride in the fact that we are islamophobes. How could any decent and civilized person be anything else? Being islamophobic is no different than being anti-nazi or anti-communist. They are all the same vicious totalitarianism that seeks to enslave most of us and murder anyone who resists the coming of a new and permanent dark age.

    • David

      well said and so true

  • paige

    I just read on a link from Campbell's Soups *The Canadian division* a link that led to INSF or something, with a brochure of their money lending for home ownership. In it is a box with a quote from the Q'uran: Kill the disbelievers. I'll never take a PC stand on this. That little quote did it for me. All because I wanted to see why Campbell's soup was rolling out several Halal products….

    • David

      no soup for us.

  • welldoneson

    The very idea, that Islamist attacks are caused by US "geopolitical meddling", is utterly ridiculous. One wonders what caused Islamist attacks that happened before the New World was even discovered! That a US movie would put forth such a premise only goes to prove the moral bankruptcy and lack of intellectual development of show biz types.

    I mean, WTF? What is wrong with you guys?

    For a business that is rife with people who pursue an alternative lifestyle, you sure don't mind blowing honey at the sort of people who would hang you without trial! It's cool to display all points of view, but Jesus H. Christ, there comes a time when certain points of view are just obviously WRONG!

    • MarkTapson

      "That a US movie would put forth such a premise only goes to prove the moral bankruptcy and lack of intellectual development of show biz types." – COuldn't agree more, but that is the usual stance put forth in Hollywood movies about Islamic terrorism. The religious imperative to wage jihad is NEVER dealt with by Hollywood – ONLY the notion that terrorists are fighting back against our occupation and imperialism. That's something I'll be writing about extensively in my book…

  • BS1977

    I have seen the Stoning of Soraya M….this is an incredible film, although it is not easy to watch….what it brings to the screen: The horrible, arrogant, culture of misogyny, unbalanced "justice",t he primitivism and barbaric nature of a society intoxicated with sharia brutality. It is a terrifying picture of EVIL…..everyone should see this film. It is very powerful….I can understand why it is BANNED .

    • MarkTapson

      Difficult to watch, to be sure. If only people realized that watching the REAL THING is immeasurably more disturbing.

      • ipdfconverter

        No credible

  • Bonnie

    It look like, you've gone the long way around to declaring that the U.S. should war against Iran, eh?

    Coe hell or high water, gthe "iranians are very Westernized" – but the ayatollahs are NOT- so you're down on Iran.
    What you forget, fellow,k is that it's the "very Westernized Iranians" that will get suilshed tih the U.S. bombs. JUST like Iraqis were very Westernized, but for the sake of getting to Saddam, what the hell!

    You, Americans, certainly bombed Iraq into the Stone Age and beyond, alright!

    But that's ok- you got Saddam! Or did you?

    Like you're doing in the SwaT Valley (Pak)- as well. You know, to get right of a couple of Talibans and/or Al Qadas, you'll be very happy to KILL 100 civilians!


    • MarkTapson

      "It look like, you've gone the long way around to declaring that the U.S. should war against Iran, eh?" No, it looks like YOU'VE gone the long way around to rant about a point I never made.

      • light

        Bonnie, woudl yuo hapepn to be dyslectic?

  • Bonnie


    Same as Yemen. Where the farmer/"peasants" are trying to over throw the scum president, but said president is siccing the U.S. on his own people, calling them Al Qadas, so he can stay in power.

    The world wonders now, whether to get rid of the Venezuelas President, standing so defiantly against the U.S., you, Americans, would be very happy to bomb those nice secular friendly, civilian Venezuelans, as well.

    You, know, how nice and convenient, to settle all differences by just bombing away!

    Bomb this country! Bomb that country!


    • Daddio

      You are so naive … the leaders of Iran would all of a sudden agree to sit down and make changes over a peaceful talk and a cup of tea? All of the sanctions against these dictators do not amount to a hill of beans. Their mission is the destruction of the infidels … the US and Israel to start with.

      And the UN discussions and sanctions against Iran and Iraq have really worked out well … right? You have no clue what and who you are dealing with here.

      You ask an Iraqi citizen who stood in line and voted, under the threat of death, if the US invasion and freeing of their country from the dictatorship of Saddam Husein was evil!

      And the bombings are not targeted at civilians, it's the pussy terrorists who hide behind their women and children that cause the killing of innocents.

      You are either in willful ignorance, or willful unbelief!

    • MarkTapson

      You are completely off the deep end. I suggest you stop embarrassing yourself.

    • hijinx60

      A round table discussion would be nice before 9/11, or the Embassy in Kuait, or the attempted Time Square bombimg…shall we go on?

    • JLK

      You're a dope.

    • aspacia

      LOL, so we are to blame for retaliating against hostile Islamic attacks, and protecting our interests.

      Bonnie, you provide zero valid sources for your rant, and are a Muslim apologist. An apologist for the murdering Mullahs, the stonings, maimings, homicide bombings, beheadings, honor murder, etc. There have been more than 15,000 Islamic terror attack since 9/11 and the number is growing. At least U.S. troop wear uniforms and do not hide behind civilians, in mosques, hospitals, schools, etc., while shooting at the enemy.

      You turn all your venom on the U.S. for protecting itself and its interests. A land not without sin, but no more so than most other nations including the ones you support. Women vote, make choices, and are not legally forced to submit to a man. Something that is missing in Islam.

      Now to the wonderful Swat Valley, land that rightfully belongs to India. Remember, most Islamic "civilians" support murdering the infidel, pagan Hindus, because Mad Mo promoted the murder of all pagans.

      Why do you not scream about how the Mullahs viciously crushed the Iranian protesters. Those jailed have been tortured, raped, some beaten to death or executed without trial.

      Yemen is a hotbed of Islamic activity, and many of these Jihadis would force you to submit to Sharia.

      You attack us because the U.S. dislikes tyrants who nationalize private property and deny freedoms, especially free speech as the piggy president Chavez does.

      They can never be a compromise or rationalization with fanatics. We tried that with Hitler.

    • John

      Bonnie…you wouldn't last two weeks under Sharia Law because you have a big mouth and you don't know when to shut up! You husband would lawfully beat the crap out of you day after day because he is allowed to do that under Sharia. Why don't you wake up and realize that the might of the US has brough freedom to more people around the world that any other country in the 20/21 Centuries!

  • Seek

    "Spartans! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty. For tonight, we dine in hell!"

    — KIng Leonidas, "300"

  • Samurai Hit Woman

    Bomb Bonnie! We wouldn't want to miss bombing anyone who thinks such stupidity and expresses it.

  • MarkTapson

    "it is aiding and abetting our own suicide." – Absolutely. In fact, I use that very phrase myself when I speak to groups about Hollywood and our "clash of civilizations." Great minds think alike.

  • cassie

    I live in australia and what annoys me is they can come into my country and try and force their values on us and wont adopt any of ours they go around preaching about their culture and beliefs and if anyone doesnt like it we are being racist? as soon as we say we dont agree they say we are racist and of course this is not allowed in our country to be racist so our country backs down and lets the middle east/muslim do what they want just in case it offends them, yet they banned movies like sex and the city and The Stoning of Soraya M is because that how it is over in the middle east and they just dont want it publicized thats how it really is and they dont like it known

    • MaryCZ

      It's the same here in Canada. My husband actually asked one of his co-workers, who came to live in Canada from the Middle East and was talking about how living here is like living in heaven, "So why does everyone want to change it?" He got no answer in reply.

  • kafirman

    I wonder how a film like Braveheart, which celebrates freedom from oppressive government, would fare behind the Islamic curtain. Wallace powerfully asks the question, "What will you do without freedom?"

    • J. Smith

      I believe their signs in London answered that for us. "To Hell with Freedom"!

      • kafirman

        Anti-Islamic work needs to address the Islamic "moderate": the Islamic masses. If rhetoric can turn the mean of Islamic demographics away from fundamental Islam, then some measure of political success will have been achieved. It is vital that the West forward political leaders who will champion the superiority of the West's value on liberty over the Islamic practice of sanctioning the death penalty for apostates…. Braveheart is just such a movie that can separate the Islamic demographic mean from the Islamic doctrinal mean (and the Islamic demographic extreme).

    • Stephen_Brady

      Actually, in the script to Braveheart, William Wallace asks them the question, "What will you do with your freedom?" The response is, "We will run, and we will live." However, his question has the same effect, however, because he's placing the onus for freedom or oppression upon his own countrymen. If they won't fight, what Edward I will do he is ALLOWED to do, by default.

      To answer your question, however, the movie wouldn't fare very well behind the Islamic curtain.

  • Rbob

    To be Islamaphobic one has to have a fear not based on fact. Our fear of Islam is certainly based on fact of violence so abhorrent that it is hard to believe. Where do we find thos Muslims who protest the "violent few" among them?

  • Cliffystones

    "Where do we find those Muslims who protest the "violent few" among them?"

    This was the tipping point for me. Even after 9/11, I was willing to accept those "peaceful, moderate" Muslims. But then those whack jobs started beheading civilian contract workers on You Tube in Iraq. And what did we get from those "moderates"? "Roaring Silence"! Well, that was enough to convince me that they were all dangerous.

  • BS77

    Some other noteworthy films>>>> The Kingdom, Body of Lies and Kite Runner….there is an Afghan film called OSAMA (has nothing to do with Osame Bin Laden), but rather the sad tale of a girl forced to pretend she is a boy in order to get work for her and her impoverished mother…shows the brutality and misogyny of the wretched Taliban.

    • MarkTapson

      BS77, I do mention The Kingdom and Body of Lies on p. 2 of the article…

    • lovezion

      Sounds like the movie with Barbara Streisand "Yentl" doesn't it??? :o)

  • steve

    Islam is at war with us,unfortunatly our president is one of them.

  • dewey dubose

    If you don't like the way I cook, stay the hell out of my kitchen. In other words, if you don't like America and our freedoms, don't come to America. Stay the hell out of our busness. Whenever you cross the line, I will be waiting for you and I'll show you some real jihad. I will open a can of wompass that will screw you up so bad that you own mama wont recognize you.

    We have an old saying here in the USA, Love It or Leave It, but don't F**k with it. What I'm talking about is the American way of life. We have our faults, we are not perfect, but we are who we are because it works for us. In 230 years we have done more for the rest of the world than another country. We have given our finest to save other countries from life without freedom.

    Now I'm going to have my lunch, BBQ pork with a Bud while I watch 300.

    • lovezion

      LOL! Loved your last line even though I'm a vegan! :o)

  • Ron K

    The so called "Moderate Muslim" does not exist. Or at least they are so damn afraid of the religious leaders to say a word in opposition. Kill 3000 people of all races religions, and countries show remorse.? No dance in the streets and have a good time.

    When and IF a Muslim stands up on his or her own " Her standing up is ridiculous too many rocks around a Muslim town " and says that such murders are wrong. Then there is hope.

    How do you have a war and no one gets hurt? That's why it is called a WAR and not a walk in the park. You don't like what you preach and practice don't do it.

    But as for now fear rules the people of Islam. Fear of their own religion's leaders with all the power.

    I think we are wrong to try and keep the factions from exterminating each other. They are not worth it. And it is bad that it is that way.

    The Persians were great and great thinkers and the like. Up until the great M appeared on the seen. What have the Muslims done lately but kill? Science? Math? Humanities? Medicine? No just kill in the name of so called Muslim law.

    We had "them" in our society and in some places they still exist we call them the "Mob".
    They make you an offer you can't refuse.

    And Bonnie you want to see destruction wait until that genius in Iran gets a nuke. Then come on here and tell me about innocents dying. Iran will not look good as a sheet of glass but sh*t happens. Israel has better nukes and delivery systems but the mental giant in Iran knows best.


    • Carolyn

      You hit the nail on the head, brother!!

  • patches

    I'm with dewey on everything except I perfer Manischewitz wine.

    Secure my borders.

  • SittingMooseShaman

    … and they worship a fuggin' space-rock!
    Islamocrats are constantly yapping against
    and blowing-up "Idols" and beheading "Idolators"…
    Yet an Islamobot is REQUIRED to at least ONCE
    in his lifetime- Go to the Kaa'ba, I believe it's called,
    in Mecca and circle it 7-times- gradually infiltrating
    through the teeming masses to the center and smooch
    the Muslims' Blarney Stone and thus gain 'gods' graces.
    A bloody meteorite!
    A chunk of charred space rock…
    The True Faith requires no such worldly actions!
    You either believe- or you don't.
    If you don't- you are Lucifers' to toy with…
    To Hell with these filthy 'politicians'-
    abroad AND home!
    If you DO Believe- BE prepared to defend THE Faith!

  • Earl

    Don't expect the Liberals,Socialists who are running this country to ever recognize that Muslims are the ones who will be taking off the heads of them and their families with scimitars if they gain sufficient power.Liberals like to blow smoke about,"Leveling the playing field."A level playing field is the last thing these juvenile liars want.A psychologist pointed out the ways in which Liberals remain child like all their lives.Liberals seem not to see anything out of order when Muslims demand freedoms in this country that they will not give to people in their own countries.What we need is a law of reciprocity.Then Muslims would be treated the same way in this country that Christians and Jews are treated in their countries.Also,if a Muslim makes even ONE demand of us he gets a ticket back where he came from.All Muslims who hold any elected office in this country should be immediately removed from that office.If he complains it's back to where he came from.

  • huckingfarley

    The pc fruitcakes in hollywood and the movie industry are nothing but cowards of the worse kind . 1st world war movies depicted Germans as the bad guys , 2nd world war movies depicted Germans and Japanese people as bad guys , cold war movies portrayed Russians , Chinese , North Koreans and others as the bad guys , Movies always need good and bad guys to dramatize conflict . Today , the Nation of Islam has declared war on the world and especially us , the great Satan . They are responsible for over 98% of all terrorism worldwide , And the cowardly pc'ers are afraid to make movies depicting them as the bad guys , furthermore who gives a damn if they ban them , that should be a badge of honor to movie makers , after all , they are our self-proclaimed enemies .

    • lovezion

      LOL! Loved your expression "pc fruitcakes" :o) However what you say is of course the gospel truth and I feel America is going to die because of their fear to shout the truths to the muslims and the whole world. But…how in the world are we going to do that if the very president of our country is one of them and forbids us to speak let alone shout!!!

      God help us!

  • huckingfarley

    I would not worry about our illustrus potentate , He has already taken enough rope to hang himself and as soon as we take control of the house and senate we are going to use it . We need to get laws passed making jihad , peaceful or violent , illegal as well as sharia law , after all they are both unconstitutional .

  • Doggwood

    Based upon the behavior of modern practitioners, it seems Mohammad was a lot touchier than Jesus. Maybe the Islamists will grow to be as mature and tolerant as the modern Christians in another thousand years or so. But in the meantime, a lot of us will be getting our heads chopped off. The part that bothers me is when our elite intellectuals tell us we deserve it.

  • loseyateefa

    To NoName:
    thanks for sharing what must be very painful and personal experience. Sounds like you have developed the ability to "critically think." You must be very brave to risk apostasy. Allah is a deceiver and hater of mankind. I'm so glad you reject hate. My former neighbor and tennis partner was from Iran, a heckava nice man in many ways. He never mentioned being a Muslim and he may have been in name only. Or perhaps he didn't practice it. His kids became Christians, his American wife asked many questions about Christianity. Don't give up on your search for the existence of a good God, one that loves you more than you can ever love or obey back. Stay safe and encourage others with your bravery. I admire anyone who can undo that severe brainwashing. I hope this forum will encourage you in the journey.

    • Katey

      Wow loseyateefa. That is all I can say to you. You know all about Allah from what? If you had read the Koran you would know otherwise. Your views are clearly based on the teachings of people and media. It is similar for those who say such things of Christianity, God and the bible. It is not God or Allah that is a hater of mankind. It is mankind who is violent toward God and Allah, destroying the mankind that (he) created. If you read both texts with earnest heart, you would see that the two religions are both beautiful and closely related to one another in text and values. Both are intended to be good. Both value peace and promises of good things to come for mankind.

  • billionOhindus

    Fact is, Persia before Islam was a highly civilised and organised state.
    Wars were fought only on the battle-field soldier to soldier. No civilians were involved or hurt. Ditto India, wars were fought not only soldier to soldier on the battle-field, but all fighting had to cease at sunset! And could only resume at sunrise.
    The portrayal of life in Persia, Arabia and India as being uncivilised and lawless before Islam is nothing but an Islamic canard.
    Islamic hordes which invaded Persia and later India won because they attacked, looted, plundered and raped civilian towns, whose citizens were ill-equipped to fight, and forced them to join Islam, or else. Often the attackers were gone before a defending army could arrive, and often the attacks were sneak attacks at night.
    The tactic of attacking civilians does not seem to have changed, they are still doing it today.

  • just

    I got the feeling this list was written in a slightly condescending manner and lacked cultural understanding.

  • Brandon

    that's "new world order" whores propaganda, nothing more

  • fumanchu32

    It should come as no surprise that Iran would ban these films. Iran yearns for the Persian Empire; it irks them that they are no longer the dominant civilization in the world. So they are limited to exercizing what little power they have as they await the Mahdi.