Instead of worrying about much more important matters, like rebuilding the massively destroyed capital and taking care of the hundreds of thousands of victims, the Baabda Presidential Palace is apparently more concerned about being offended by local TV news stations.
According to the palace press office, there have been “several” efforts from its side to bring the MTV back into respecting the president, namely using his official title when speaking about him.
That hasn’t been happening with MTV journalists ever since the murderous Beirut explosion and the aftermath, all which proved the state’s cruel neglect and lack of concerns towards the citizens, their safety, and their recent demise.
Saying that the Lebanese people are angry would be an understatement. They are furious and disgusted to the core. And MTV Lebanon has been expressing it, in its own way, and the presidential palace does not like it.
So, it banned the MTV journalists to enter the public place that is the palace, impeding them to directly cover the related news.
According to the statement, the Baabda press office will provide MTV with what to report related to the president and the Baabda’s activities. Basically, that will make MTV a news channel of Baabda in that regard.
During the recent nomination of Lebanon’s new Prime Minister, for instance, MTV reporters were stopped from entering the palace’s parameters to cover the important event.
According to the palace’s official statement, the President has taken offense to MTV’s seemingly disrespectful acts; belittling him and referring to him as “Mr. Aoun” or “Michel Aoun” or “The master of the palace.”
The official banning deemed by MTV as “illegal and unethical”, as well as oppressive to the freedom of the press, the news station decided to legally respond.
On the 4th of September, MTV’s attorney Mark Habka filed a lawsuit against the president, claiming him to be violating basic human rights and the media’s freedom of speech, and coercing it into silence.
In that regard, MTV stated that “resorting to the Lebanese judiciary proves that the station believes in the judiciary, and that accountability is achieved through it and not by taking matters into its own hands.”
In that MTV stands as the first media station to sue the President. It believes that this will result in a breakthrough for the local media and will help introduce “modernized ideologies” that aren’t exactly being followed by the country’s rulers.
That action by the President didn’t really come as a surprise to any in Lebanon.
The people have long endured oppression by top officials in power, including imprisonment of citizens for the use of any words that could be interpreted as belittling, or insulting, or offending, or slandering the president and/or the “prestige of the state” which he personifies.
MTV is handling its case professionally by resorting to the judiciary. It remains to see if justice will be duly served in a country where top officials enjoy a large extent of immunity, let alone the use of constraining intervention.
As of yet, no top officials who knew or were involved in the Beirut explosion have been brought to justice and people don’t have hope that it will ever happen.