President Michael Aoun is receiving intense criticism from Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Walid Jumblatt after judge Ghada Aoun ordered the arrest of the esteemed art dealer, historian, and curator Gaby El-Daher.
El-Daher is accused of “insulting the president” for posting on social media that “President Aoun has led us into hell.”
PSP leader Jumblatt called out the Presidency and President Michel Aoun’s close circle on Tuesday, accusing them of repressing freedom of speech in Lebanon.
“It seems that the inclination of the presidential tenure or its clique is to stifle all forms of expression, the thing that did not happen even during the days of [communist leader] Enver Hoxha and his family in Albania,” Jumblat tweeted. “I condemn the arrest of Mr. Gaby El-Daher and I deplore all forms of attacks on freedom.”
People were quick to come to El-Daher’s defense, posting their outrage on social media and ridiculing Judge Aoun’s decision as well as calling for support from all revolutionaries.
Gaby El-Daher is a highly-regarded art dealer in Lebanon and Europe and a curator of private art collections, who is also specialized in landscapes of the Middle East. He has co-curated several important exhibitions, including Regards Sur Beyrouth at Beirut’s Sursock Museum in 2016, among others.
He’s also the co-author of Essays & Stories on Photography in Lebanon, an art book featuring 40 essays and 380 photographs, in which participated several experts in the field, like Dominique Edde, George Boustani, Camille Tarazi, Bernard Khouri, and others.
His arrest has indeed triggered outrage as the repression of expression is sparing no one, except the politicians. No one certainly expects that Jumblatt gets arrested for his public statement on Twitter accusing the presidency of ‘worse than communist leaders.’
Following the intense reactions, and according to local reports, Gaby El-Daher has been just released but his legal case is not over.
It is to note that Judge Aoun has ordered the arrest of El-Daher and sued him “personally” at the same time, which is not only inadmissible, according to his lawyer Ayman Raad, but “it’s a flagrant lack of judicial impartiality.”
She has no right to be an accuser and a judge at the same time, he pointed out.
Amid all the thousands of people expressing today their anger against the state, the presidency, and the terrible status quo of the country, El-Daher seemed to have been somehow “hand-picked.”
His lawyer speculates that his arrest could be meant as pressure on his brother, LBCI’s CEO Pierre El-Daher.