Lebanese Activists Can’t Reportedly Sue Someone for Inciting Sectarianism

Immediately after being released from the Justice Palace, prominent revolution influencers Dima Sadek and Gino Raidy resumed their defense of free speech against the Free Patriotic Movement and its leader, Gebran Bassil, who had accused them of defaming him and his party, and inciting racism and sectarianism.

“Yes, I do accuse [the Free Patriotic Movement] of racism, yes,” Sadek affirmed, speaking in front of the entrance of the Justice Palace in Beirut, where she had just been investigated for the same issue.

The president of the FPM had filed lawsuits against Sadek and the activists Gino Raidy last week, as part of the party’s recent legal campaign against some of its critics, including activist Charbel Khoury, as well as journalist Joe Maalouf for questioning Bassil’s wealth in a TV episode five years ago.

Dima Sadek had previously compared the FPM to the fascist Nazi party, after the infamous video of MP Ziad Assouad’s bodyguards assaulting a young man for being “from Tripoli” sparked outrage in Lebanon.

“It’s surreal to be accused of raising sectarian and racial strife between the people of Keserwan and those of Tripoli,” Sadek bemusedly told reporters, reminding that it was Bassil’s supporters who beat the young man in Keserwan and shamelessly used racial and sectarian slurs against him.

The journalist took the opportunity in the heavy presence of media to call for “a serious initiative to file a serious lawsuit against the Free Patriotic Movement for its racism.”

She then noted that 7 organizations have already moved forward with this initiative, but they were stopped midway and told that “only the public prosecutor can charge someone for inciting racism and sectarianism.” 

Basically, if “only the public prosecutor can charge someone for inciting racism and sectarianism,” and the people and their organizations can’t, how did the FPM and his leader proceeded with that lawsuit? It begs the question.

And that’s Sadek voiced out, saying: “How was I summoned for inciting racism and sectarianism (when Gebran Bassil was the one making the claim)?”

Sadek recently told Nidaa Lwatan newspaper that she considered that lawsuit “a clear abuse of freedom of expression.”

Similarly, activist Gino Raidy expressed to the same newspaper his confusion at how the FPM “can file such lawsuits against people who are clearly against sectarianism.”

Raidy explained that he knew the lawsuits aimed to press and silence critics and protesters.

He did see a positive side to the incident, however. Because, as he acknowledged, before October 17th, activists who were called in for investigation feared being imprisoned and never coming back out.

“Today, we hear the chants of the supporters cheerfully while we’re being interrogated, and the solidarity gives us strength. I will be more determined in criticizing [the FPM],” Gino Raidy concluded.

Indeed, the protests that were organized outside Adliyeh, where Gino and Dima spent 2 hours each, had a powerful echo that was heard by some of the world’s prominent human rights organizations, like Amnesty International, which denounced the activists’ detainment for expressing their opinions on social media.

It’s quite amusing, many Twitter users have pointed out, that the president of the FPM himself had once said that “arresting people for their tweets is outrageous.” Or is this only the case when “the people” are supporters of the party?

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