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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Social Media Reaction to SKeyes’ Violation Monitoring: MoIM Versus LBCI

Friday , 16 February 2024
Case Study No.14: Ministry of Interior Tries to Halt LBCI's Comedy Program "Marhaba Dawleh"

The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) conducts a monthly review of freedom of expression violations in Lebanon, analyzing the ensuing reactions on its social media platforms. The primary aim is to assess our social media audience’s perception of our reporting and to gauge the overall level of support for freedom of expression in Lebanon.


Our study employs a framework that delves into social media contributors’ stances towards the victim of the violation, the prevalence of hate speech, discernible political affiliations of the audience, and incorporates a gender perspective where relevant.

On January 25, 2024, the management of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) received notification of a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (MoIM). The lawsuit demanded the immediate banning of the program “Marhaba Dawleh,” citing the ministry’s claim that it “undermines the dignity of the Lebanese state and its institutions.”

In a statement addressing the alleged violation, the channel’s administration expressed regret that the Lebanese state appears to have neglected its responsibilities towards its citizens, public institutions, and administrations. They highlighted several issues inadequately addressed by the state, including the financial crisis and the investigation into the port explosion. They also noted a prioritization of crackdowns on freedom of expression, particularly evident in the targeting of satirical comedy programs, which they found ironically comical.

Furthermore, the channel’s administration asserted that they view the problem not as being centered around the program “Marhaba Dawla,” but rather as stemming from a mindset resistant to state reform and the well-being of the people. They argue that this mindset even rejects the idea of bringing happiness into people’s homes. The channel’s stated objective is to rectify these deficiencies within the state by bringing joy to Lebanese households and fostering the aspiration to build a state whose foundation rests solely upon freedoms protected from infringement.

The lawsuit was swiftly dismissed on the very day of its filing by Judge Carla Shawah, who presided over interim relief proceedings.


On January 25, SKF’s SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom reported on this incident through its website and Facebook account. This report examines 300 of the most recent comments received on the Facebook post within two weeks of its publication. The results of the analysis are presented below.

Upon examining our dataset, the findings revealed that 68.3% (205) of the interacting comments showed solidarity with the victim of the violation. The majority of users expressing support for LBCI and the show voiced disappointment in the state and its judiciary system, particularly highlighting the absence of the state’s role in ensuring the welfare and security of its citizens while prioritizing crackdowns on comedians and artists.


In contrast, 25% (75) of engaged comments supported the MoIM’s legal action. These comments varied from expressions of support for the ministry’s personnel to assertions that the state should be respected regardless of its perceived dysfunctionality. Other users who opposed LBCI and the show perceived the latter and its actors as lacking in public modesty. Moreover, 3.7% (11) of users maintained a neutral stance, while the remaining 3% (9) interacted with comments that did not necessarily express a clear stance on the topic of debate.

Out of the 300 comments analyzed, a mere 2.7% (8) contained hateful content in their interaction, whereas the vast majority, comprising 97.3% (292) of the total, were devoid of any hateful content.

Similar to our previous analysis, this debate did not witness substantial surges of hate speech and incitement. The majority of the contributors (276 out of 300) refrained from explicitly disclosing their political affiliations, although many resonated with certain discourses associated with the parties mentioned below.


Among the identified political affiliations, ten users aligned with Hezbollah, five with the Amal Movement, three with the Lebanese Forces (LF), two with the Future Movement (FM), and one with each of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), Lebanese Communist Party (LCP), and the Iraqi Ba’ath Party.


What is noteworthy is that two users each from Hezbollah and Amal Movement expressed pro-LBCI stances, and the sole user who identified with FPM also expressed a pro-LBCI stance. The Ba’athist user was the only one to express a neutral stance among those showing visible partisan affiliation. Additionally, one user each from PSP, LCP, and FM expressed pro-LBCI stances, while the other FM user expressed an anti-LBCI stance. All three LF users also denounced the ministry’s legal action.


Two out of the eight Hezbollah users who expressed an anti-LBCI stance resorted to using hateful content. Similarly, one out of the three Amal Movement users who expressed anti-LBCI stances also used hateful content.


Finally, out of the 276 comments that did not clearly indicate a political affiliation, 194 were pro-LBCI, 63 were anti-LBCI, 10 expressed neutral stances, and 9 were irrelevant to the topic of debate but commented on details related to the issue itself.

Out of the 300 analyzed comments, 71.7% (215) were written by male contributors, 65% of whom expressed support for LBCI and the show, while around 27.7% took an anti-LBCI stance. On the other hand, 28% (83) of the total comments were contributed by female users, with 77% expressing support for the victim and 19.2% taking an anti-LBCI stance. Only two users did not express a clear gender identity, one of whom was neutral and the other took an anti-LBCI stance. Notably, only one comment written by a female user contained hate speech, while the other seven belonged to male users.



The circumstances surrounding this recent violation echo those of a similar case from last week. The widespread solidarity observed with the victim of the violation likely arises from the fact that the program “Marhaba Dawleh” addresses issues resonating with various segments of the Lebanese population. The notable decrease in hate speech could also be attributed to the absence of association with political parties known for online hate speech. On the contrary, the program's content resonated with users from different political backgrounds, including Hezbollah, Amal, and FPM, which explains the solidarity expressed by some of their supporters.

These indicators lend stronger support to our previous conclusion that the positive interactions observed among users may not represent a consistent trend but rather instinctive engagements by traditional party supporters when not driven by a systematic partisan mobilization toward a specific political goal.

This report is published with the support of:

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