Hazem Al Amin

The minister and the dead

Is it possible for a hundred people, including children, to be killed last night in Homs, which is located only a few kilometers away from the border with Lebanon, and for newspapers to cover the next day in Beirut “the tragedy of [Labor Minister] Charbel Nahhas’ resignation”? This resignation was more of a play and the minister did not submit it to the prime minister, but rather to a member of parliament, which alludes that it is merely a barter chip.

Indeed, all Lebanese newspapers gave precedence to the news about Nahhas’ resignation over that of 100 Syrian nationals being killed in Homs. Transferring the tragedy from Homs to Rabieh is the climax of Lebanese-style farce. However, Lebanese media outlets that are not part of the arsenal of the Syrian regime were also lured by the enticement of the resignation, which represents a Lebanese moment that only stupid people cannot resist contemplating … In between malice and stupidity, Lebanese public affairs are imbued with self-importance and has forsaken any remaining signs of sensibility and intelligence, which one needs to pay attention to the events in Homs and side with the victim in the real tragedy playing out there.

Western journalists are being killed in Homs while the press in Beirut is taken with a play, the heroes of which are a minister, a member of parliament and a prime minister. We see from Homs the image of a wounded young man cradling his slain child while we have here that of “the proud hero minister” who is no ashamed of the slain child’s face. These are their dead, not ours, as far as Lebanon’s disregard of the Homs tragedy is concerned. This is proven by the fact that we are still looking for a tradeoff between workers’ rights and two director generals, and between gasoil used for heating and services rendered to our businessmen while seeking to support the Resistance in order to repel potential accusations of treason.

It is professionally shameful for newspapers in Beirut to cover “Charbel Nahhas’ handing over his resignation to Michel Aoun” following the Homs massacre. The shame is not incurred upon the profession; rather, the shame is upon us, the sons of this profession, as our deficiency epitomizes Lebanon’s deficiency, which lies in the cabinet-invented “steering away” policy.

The cabinet has “steered away” and incurred shame upon itself on the political level. However, the shame befalling us is of a professional – hence personal and individual – nature and is not mitigated by the fact that we are part of the press body that is ruled by politics, which – in turn – is ruled by interests beyond its control and ours.

Our own shame is not that we did not head to Homs, as this option remains linked to different circumstances. Rather, our shame lies in the fact that we replaced the slain child’s face with that of the overly-joyous minister while replacing the Homs tragedy with the Rabieh comedy. It is because Homs is only a few kilometers away from our border … and because its dead are not ours.

This article is a translation of the original, which appeared on the NOW Arabic site Thursday February 23, 2012