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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Challenges of Satire in Lebanon: The Price of Offense

Wednesday , 17 May 2023
Design: Mahmoud Younis

On December 21, 2022, Dalia Ahmad, a host on Al-Jadeed TV, and actress Joanna Karaki performed a satirical skit about women from the southern region of Lebanon on Al-Jadeed’s show “فشة خلق” (Letting off steam). The skit targeted Shiite women, who are Amal Movement followers, portraying them as arrogant and self-victimized. The skit also included a sexual reference the physical features of some southern residents, such as blue eyes and blond hair, which were allegedly acquired due to foreign conquests of Lebanon. These references were made only days after an Irish UNIFIL peacekeeping soldier was killed in South Lebanon. The show’s intended message was to underscore the significance of a positive interaction between UNIFIL soldiers and southern residents. However, the comedic skit ultimately backfired.

This segment caused a massive uproar online, and a campaign against the show and both women was mobilized. Following this, several violent attacks targeted Al-Jadeed station, starting with a Molotov cocktail that was thrown at the building on the morning of December 27. The following night, the station was riddled with bullets on December 28, causing significant damage to the offices and surrounding offices.

The Samir Kassir Foundation (SKF) monitored the social media reactions, in Lebanon, following the attacks on Al-Jadeed station in response to the satirical performance mentioned earlier. The objective is to gauge the Lebanese public’s stance on crucial freedom of expression debates. To ensure accuracy and efficiency in the monitoring process, SKF has partnered with Reputell, a data service provider with access to vast amounts of data and software filter out relevant content. This process helps understand if the discussion around the case study was reflected in the online arena and, if so, how. It is important to note that this study does not represent a comprehensive view of the digital landscape but aims to highlight the prominent actors, platforms used, and possible patterns as realistically as possible. This is the second in a series that will use Reputell’s technology to provide a clearer picture of discussions taking place in the Lebanese online sphere regarding controversial freedom of expression debates.

The monitoring period for this study is from December 21, 2022 to January 3, 2023.

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