News | Lebanon
A member of the army’s intelligence services prevented amateur photographers from taking pictures during an event organized by the Night Collective group in Ain El-Mreisseh, on August 28, 2012, claiming that these were the orders of the Governor of Beirut.
“We were taking part in an event organized by Night Collective, a group of amateur photographers, whose main purpose is to take pictures at night. Yesterday, they chose the Corniche region in Beirut to take pictures of the passersby”, photojournalist Mahmoud Ghazayel said in a phone interview with SKeyes.
“While we were taking pictures, a member of the army’s intelligence services approached one of the team members and asked her to show him the shooting authorization. The agent revealed his identity and showed us his military card, saying that two army patrols were already on their way. He also said that one of the agents will view the pictures and delete the ones showing a vehicle belonging to the army or the Internal Security Forces”, he added.
“When we asked about the origin of this procedure, the agent said that a big number of cameras and photographers would spread terror and panic among people. This is why the Governor decided to ban photo-shooting and asked to see the pictures. He then asked each one of us for our full name, registration number, date of birth and mother’s full name. The agent said it was forbidden to film or even to be in possession of a camera and take pictures in the streets. The Lebanese Army’s Directorate of Orientation should deliver a permit”, Ghazayel said.
“The agent said the decision was issued by the Governor of Beirut and that we could raise the issue with the police chief. He also said the intelligence services had already banned several tourists from taking pictures in the region”, he added.
“The agent told his superior that we were a group of amateur photographers and that we should be allowed to take pictures. They finally let us go and insisted on the necessity of having an authorization”, he concluded.
“The Governor of Beirut decided that taking pictures is prohibited in the region. One photographer does not need a permit but several ones do. The situation is very unstable in the country and the presence of a group of photographers raises suspicion. Any person can submit a request at the governorate to get an authorization to film or take pictures”, an employee at the governor’s office said in a phone interview with SKeyes.