To my Beirut

Á mon Beyrouth…

SSNP to freedom of the press: When an apology is not enough…


An event that was not reported well enough to give it the justice it deserves was the attack last week on Al-Jadeed reporter Ghadi Francis who was brutally beaten outside a hotel in Dhour Chweir where she was covering the Syrian Social Nationalist Party elections.

An “alleged” bodyguard for the SSNP Member of Parliament Assad Hardan, by the name of Hussein Hachem, verbally abused her before punching her in the face and kicking her in the stomach.

The SSNP, no stranger to past accusations of beating up journalists who state their opinion, one example being the late Christopher Hitchens, and no stranger to attacking groups of civilians, another example is their last year attack on anti-Assad protesters, released a statement apologizing for the incident and denying that Hussein Hachem is Hardan’s bodyguard, instead claiming him to be a journalist for the Binaa’ newspaper, which is considered to be the “mouthpiece” of the SSNP, an essential tool that all political parties in Lebanon must have to ensure the never-ending poetry of sycophantic prose and praise to soothe their egos and brainwash their followers into the chasm of the dirt of Lebanese politics and their failing “Don Corleone” impersonations.

I suppose I have to choose my words carefully, and it is out of consideration to the sensitive feelings of the fanatic members of political parties I should say, truth be told, the empty apology sent out by the SSNP isn’t enough. No word from Bina’ newspaper either. For some people it is a good excuse to back off even though we all know it will happen again, as it did before. Being told to let it go is the easiest thing and yet the hardest. Being afraid of being attacked and then refraining from commenting on this matter is also another easy thing. I don’t care for the lies of politics in this country. That is why I never venture into politics, because I think the same of all political parties here, but this case isn’t about politics. This is a basic human and civil right, something they don’t teach well enough at schools here, if they do at all.  I don’t care what the SSNP stands for. What I care about is how they behave. Antun Saadeh, though I disagree with him on several standpoints of his opinions or beliefs, was a philosopher, a thinker. He certainly was no ruthless bully, frightened by the simplest of comments. But this is something someone like Hussein Hachem would never understand or accept. Why am I complaining about him? He is just one example of many Lebanese that think and behave the same way.

A cowardly, sick, bully of a man beats up a female journalist in the name of politics, to defend the honorable men that sucked this country dry with their always good, selfless, innocent intentions. A cowardly media that does not give this incident the weight it deserves because it fears underground backlash, if not public. Threats hurtled at anyone who dares to complain. The honorable figures in the country who remain silent at transgressions committed when it is not in their favor to comment on the matter. This is a country where you have journalists who have been brutally murdered and mutilated throughout our history for their opinions, yet people in this intoxicated society are more interested to debate the moral, ethical and philosophical complex that comes in the form of Myriam Clink and her “cat”.

With contempt did I watch the ridiculousness of the society in this country emphasize on Clink’s bruised ego because she was told what she needed to be told, rather than pay attention to the bruised, broken face and ribs that Ghadi Francis suffered from because she asked a simple question as objectively as possible that obviously terrified certain people, otherwise they would not have reacted so forcefully towards her. The problem is greater than being beaten, or threatened. The problem is when society and the media are silenced by fear.

This is not your Lebanon your highnesses. You are mistaken when you assume that the legendary giant by the name of Ghassan Tueni departed us last week.

Let us see what will happen to the honorable Hussein Hachem. I presume he will be held accountable for a little while, and as soon as we forget his name, so will the law.

Update: Ghadi Francis tweeted me yesterday to tell me that she is only bruised, (no broken bones) and to highlight on the fact that worse things happen to others than what happened to her. The piece I have written was not only to support her, but to highlight on the lack of proper reaction from the media and society.

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