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Kuwait bans 'Fahrenheit 9/11'
Updated: 2004-08-02 08:50

Kuwait, a major U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, has banned Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" because it deems the movie insulting to the Saudi Arabian royal family and critical of America's invasion of Iraq, an official said Sunday.

"We have a law that prohibits insulting friendly nations, and ties between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are special," Abdul-Aziz Bou Dastour, cinema and production supervisor at the Information Ministry, told The Associated Press.

Darlene Lanham, 28, left, Sarah Looney, 27, center, and Erin Taber, 25, right, are silhouetted as they watch a screening of Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' in Crawford, Texas, Wednesday, July 28, 2004. The three friends traveled from Austin, Texas to watch the movie. [AP]

He said the film "insulted the Saudi royal family by saying they had common interests with the Bush family and that those interests contradicted with the interests of the American people."

The ministry made the decision to bar "Fahrenheit 9/11" in mid-July after the state-owned Kuwait National Cinema Co. asked for the license to show the movie. The company monopolizes cinemas in Kuwait, but all movies must first be sanctioned by government censors.

"Fahrenheit 9/11," which won the top honor at May's Cannes Film Festival, depicts the White House as asleep at the wheel before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington. Moore accuses U.S. President Bush of fanning fears of future terrorism to win public support for the Iraq war.

The Saudi royal family has taken issue with the movie for claiming that high-ranking Saudi nationals were allowed to flee the United States immediately after the attacks at a time when American airspace had been closed to all commercial traffic.

The 9/11 commission investigating the 2001 terrorist attacks found no evidence that any flights of Saudi nationals took place before the reopening of national airspace on Sept 13.

Kuwait was the launch pad for the war that unseated Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who ordered the invasion of Kuwait 14 years ago. A U.S.-led coalition fought the first Gulf War, which evicted Iraqis after seven months of occupation.

Saudi Arabia, a leading Arab Muslim nation, opened its land and air space to coalition forces that liberated Kuwait, and Kuwaitis are still grateful for that.

The film is already playing elsewhere in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.

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