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Thursday, 2 July 2009

Hariri welcomes Zio-Fart comedian

A French comedian of Jewish descent is welcome to perform in Lebanon, a cabinet minister in Beirut said Tuesday. Tourism Minister Elie Marouni even offered to receive Gad Elmaleh at the airport, defying a Hezbollah campaign claiming he served in the Israel Defense Forces.

Outgoing Minister Marouni's remarks came three days after Elmaleh canceled his participation in a festival in Lebanon next month because he apparently feared for his safety after Hezbollah's claims, which were denied by his agent.

Two other Lebanese ministers also criticized Hezbollah's campaign in a rare challenge to the Iranian-backed militant group, which suffered a major setback against the country's pro-Western coalition in June 7 parliamentary elections.

"In my name as the tourism minister, or as a Lebanese state, we tell Gad
Elmaleh he is welcome in Lebanon," Marouni said at a news conference.

Marouni said Lebanese authorities had granted Elmaleh permission to enter the country, saying "we are ready to receive him at the airport in order to affirm that Lebanon is a land of freedom and creativity." More