Speaking on Al-Dunia TV, former MP Nasser Qandil threatened men and women media professionals, naming specifically Al-Arabiya colleague Najwa Qassem and Al-Jazeera colleague Hassan Jammoul. However, these threats did not prompt the Lebanese media to rise up against the man who made them.
Qandil’s threat via Al-Dunia TV is laden with meaning, as this entails the possibility of seeing these threats transform into actions. It also denotes the wish to lay the foundations of an intimidation speech that will not stop at Qassem and Jammoul. This speech is actually part of a system of repression, the likes of which the Lebanese repression rhetoric has failed to emulate despite its attempts to imitate the killing and intimidation characterizing its Syrian counterpart.
This is probably the first time targets are identified by names and titles, and Qandil most likely set a precedent in this respect. Ever since Qandil gave the go signal, journalists and media professionals now have to appeal to their reasoning. Dear colleagues, this is Baath-style censorship. Indeed, Qandil said that he will welcome [our] colleagues at the airport along with huge crowds carrying banners with the word “wanted”. He went on saying that he will establish courts of law and demonstrated incredible largesse by falling short of saying that they would be hanged. He said all this on Al-Dunia TV, the forum known for its greatest amount of justice and transparency, the forum of the Lebanese as Syrian citizens call it. Many of these Lebanese flock to this forum to threaten the Syrian people, much like Qandil threatened our Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya colleagues.
The Lebanese Press Syndicate did not so much as blink, and the Ministry of Information “steered away” from the threats targeting two Lebanese nationals who work in a sector for which it is supposedly responsible.
Qandil said: “Listen, Hassan Jammoul … You are a relative of mine and you have to realize that things will not go by unaccounted for.” He then stepped up his threats by moving over to Najwa Qassem and brandishing accusations of treasons along with a great deal of tension and nervousness, which leads us to believe that the man is on the brink of collapse.
Once again, the Lebanese Press Syndicate has proven that it is oblivious to the concerns of media professionals. Not only does it not care for their demands, but also for their security and safety. By “steering away” from threats against colleagues, it has left a broader margin of maneuver for those wishing to undermine public freedoms and gave those who wish to curb whatever freedom of expression we have left the impression that they can do as they please.
This article is a translation from the original, which appeared on the NOW Arabic site on Friday February 17, 2012