Lebanese authorities on Thursday went back on their decision to ban the prize-winning animated film "Persepolis", following an outcry and accusations that the censorship was aimed at pleasing Iran and Shiite clerics.
"We have given the green light for the film 'Persepolis' to be seen in cinemas across Lebanon," one official from the censorship bureau told AFP on condition of anonymity.
She did not elaborate.
On Wednesday, General Wafiq Jizzini, head of general security at the interior ministry, which handles censorship, told AFP he had decided to ban the film after Shiite officials expressed concern that its content was offensive to Muslims and to Iran.
"The office that handles censorship matters informed me in their report that the film attacks Islam and the Iranian regime, and this could spark tension with Iran," Jizzini said.
"I can go back on my decision, I respect freedom of expression," he said. "But given the current political crisis in Lebanon, this is not the time to add fuel to the fire."
General Jizzini could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday on why he had changed his mind.
His original decision to ban the film drew condemnation in many circles, with some saying it smacked of hypocrisy and showed that some within the Lebanese government were kowtowing to Iran.
Culture Minister Tareq Mitri said he saw no reason why the film should be banned and that he had urged the interior ministry to rescind its decision.
Bassam Eid, production manager at Circuit Empire, the company that was to distribute the film, blasted the ban as ridiculous and unwarranted, especially since pirated copies were widely available in Hezbollah's stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a leading member of the ruling coalition, for his part said he was stunned by "this cultural faux-pas that allows a security service to evaluate artistic and cultural works."
The film, which shows its young heroine's brushes with the authorities in the early days of the Islamic revolution in the 1980s, was screened in Iran last month but is not expected to be shown at mainstream cinemas.