Freedom of speech is becoming only a concept in democratic Lebanon… It only applies to politicians and those who support certain parties, notably Hezbollah and Amal.
Threats have been the language of many of these supporters, as well as some politicians using or ill-using the judiciary to intimidate people and shut them off. And when it comes to journalists and reporters, things can get as ugly as the truths they have a duty to convey.
It has become a dare for reporters to just speak about the ugly truth that is the situation in Lebanon: the crimes, the corruption, etc.
Even the too obvious realities are subject of self-entitled “censuring” by these partisans, and they do so by the use of verbal threats, harassments, and not rarely physical assaults.
The latest victim of these threats is the Lebanese journalist Mariam Seif. Mariam has been receiving threats from Hezbollah supporters for some time now, and some of these threats became actions.
Seif is keeping people updated on social media, and the latest life-threatening message she and her family members received is: “You and all your siblings will be dead if you step outside your house.”
Back in November, one of Mariam’s brothers got physically assaulted by one of these harassers. He hit him with heavy objects and, according to Mariam, authorities failed to take action against the aggressor.
These constant threats and abuses are attempts to make Mariam and her family leave the Shiite area where they belong and live.
The appalling story doesn’t end here. Mariam and some of her family members went to the police station to file a complaint against the guy who attacked her brother. There, she was even reportedly denied her right to a lawyer.
In fact, she was kept from leaving the station on the ground that she posted about the police’s neglect on social media, She was hence submitted to interrogation.
The journalist also shared that the nephew of Hezbollah politician Amin Sherry was present at the police station to support the assaulter, noting that he has no involvement in the situation whatsoever; other than being from the same political party and with political influence.
The video below shows one of these assaults at the home of Mariam and her family.
Naturally, the Lebanese people couldn’t stand silent in front of such blatant injustice and insult to the law that is meant to protect the citizens, especially the victims of crimes.
Many took to social media to support the journalist for what she’s going through of criminal assaults. They are demanding that justice be served and tweeting: “All solidarity with Mariam Seif against the thugs and the oppressive state.”
Journalist Sonhiya Najjar tweeted, “All solidarity with a colleague, journalist, and friend Mariam Saif. Threats to kill and attacking people for the sake of disagreement of opinions are no longer permitted…”
She pointed to important questions, “Where is the Press Syndicate? Where is the judiciary?”
It is heartbreaking indeed to see that the country that was once the beacon of democracy in the Middle East can no longer claim it to be.
The “ugly” truth is that democracy in Lebanon has been fading under the tools of terror of political partisans.
To make it worst, their acts are defended by those whose main duty is to enforce the law. Victims, like Seif and the people demanding justice or their rights, are being further victimized, and criminals are being protected.