A reporter from An-Nahar, Asrar Shbaro, was filming passengers as they left a plane that had come from Iran. She interviewed them and asked them questions.
She then recorded a live stream in which she was attacked by a man who, according to Janoubia, was a member of Hezbollah.
The attacker took her phone and began to delete her footage of the incident. Shbaro was covering a story related to the recent outbreak of Coronavirus that had arrived in Lebanon from Iran.
The health minister Hasan Hamad was highly criticized for his decision to allow flights from Iran to land in Lebanon. However, he claims that the government is following strict procedures to screen passengers for symptoms.
He had tried to assure the public not to panic as the 45-year-old woman infected with Coronavirus and that has been under treatment is currently in better health. He also added that 27 passengers had been tested negative for Coronavirus.
The attack on the journalist was condemned by the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis, who defended the right of journalists for free speech.
“Intimidation and persecution of journalists for expressing their opinion is often a sign that they touch upon something important,” he said on Twitter.
He added, “Efforts to silence free speech by administrative measures and harassment will never succeed and usually backfire, notably in times of crisis.”
There are growing fears in regards to the Coronavirus and the number of deaths in Iran and the worsening of the outbreak all over Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
In a crisis like this, it is imperative for journalists to collect enough information to assure the public about whether or not the government is doing its job in protecting its citizens and ensuring their wellbeing.
The assault of the journalist by someone who is allegedly a member of Hezbollah shows how the leaders seem to put their geopolitical interests and relationships above the health and safety of their people.
Here is the live stream for those interested: