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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

First a Molotov cocktail, then gunfire at Al Jadeed HQ after controversial sketch

Wednesday , 28 December 2022

Unidentified people fired bullets at the Al Jadeed television station headquarters in Beirut Tuesday night, the channel said Wednesday, December 28, 2022, a day after someone also threw a failed Molotov cocktail at the building, causing no reported injuries. 

The attacks came after Al Jadeed broadcast a comedy sketch implying sexual relations between southern Lebanese women and foreign UN peacekeepers, though it was not immediately clear whether they were directly related to the sketch.

According to Al Jadeed, at around 1 a.m. early Wednesday morning, unidentified gunmen opened fire on the station's headquarters. The channel's director of public relations, Ibrahim Halabi, said via the Al Jadeed website that an investigation has been opened, and warned of "the danger of these shots that can target the surrounding buildings and not only the headquarters of the channel."

CCTV footage published by Al Jadeed appears to show four individuals, including a uniformed police officer, parked outside the entrance of the channel. Other footage shows two men in what seems to be the media's parking lot taking refuge in a small cabin. However, no shooting is audible in the video.

Reacting to these incidents, the independent MP for Tripoli Ashraf Rifi said that "the continued attacks against Al Jadeed constitute a terrorist act in view of the inability of officials to protect the channel and the people who work there." He then called on the security services, in a tweet, to protect the channel and displayed his support for Al Jadeed and its journalists, while saying he was "in solidarity with those who felt offended by the sketch."

"Condemning the attack on Al Jadeed is no longer enough. We must stop this crime and prevent it from spreading," Lebanese Forces MP Ghayath Yazbeck tweeted.

On Monday night, an unknown person threw a Molotov cocktail, which did not explode, against the headquarters of the channel.

Controversial comedy sketch

"The majority of children in the South have green or blue eyes and are blond" amid the presence of "Italian" and "English," UN peacekeepers, said comedian Joanna Karaki in a sketch that appeared on the Al Jadeed program Fachet khele, implying relationships between local women and peacekeepers.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was established in 1978 and has maintained a significant presence since the end of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, with an average of more than 11,000 soldiers of different nationalities deployed in the South.

An Irish UNIFIL trooper, 23-year-old Sean Rooney, was killed in a rare fatal attack Dec. 14 as his convoy was passing through a village in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has reportedly handed over a person suspected of involvement in the killing. 

Al Jadeed's comedy sketch following the incident caused outcry. The Shiite High Council on Monday denounced what it called a campaign of "slander, disinformation and defamation against the Shiite community." It also called on "the state and the regulatory authorities to take the necessary legal measures."

Hezbollah MP Ibrahim Moussawi, chairman of the parliamentary information committee, also denounced in a statement Sunday "an odious act" against women in the South. He called on the Minister of Information to take appropriate measures.

Reacting to his remarks, protest MP Paula Yacoubian tweeted Monday that Moussawi had issued a statement on behalf of the commission of which she is a member, and not in his own name. "We have different opinions as members of the commission," she said.

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