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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - June 2022

Monday , 25 July 2022
Design: Mahmoud Younis

During the month of June 2022, thirteen Palestinian journalists and photographers were victims of Israeli violations in the West Bank, where the Palestinian security service also detained and beat a reporter and a photographer.. In the Gaza Strip, a correspondent was beaten and another one summoned by the Hamas-affiliated security forces. In Lebanon, judiciary actions against journalists as well as censorship cases continued. 

Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.

In Lebanon, the military court summoned stand-up comedian Shaden Fakih for “insulting the Internal Security Forces” and sentenced her to a fine over a satirical video (06/24). Also, the Anti-Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Rights Bureau questioned freelance journalist Marwa Saab over a complaint filed against her by Jaafar Al-Attar over a Facebook post alleging a harassment case by the latter (06/21), while freelance journalist Luna Safwan got a call from the Baabda police station, informing her that Al-Attar had also filed a complaint against her for “defamation and spreading lies” (06/08).

Also in June, Ghassan Al-Mawla filed a complaint before the public prosecutor at the appeal court in Mount Lebanon against journalist Tony Boulos for “jeopardising media and national values, undermining the prestige of the State, weakening national sentiment and inciting sectarian strife,” following a TV interview about drug trafficking (06/06). Moreover, security officers inquired about journalist Sabine Youssef’s house after the same court issued an arrest and investigation warrant against her, under the pretext of insulting the President of the Republic in a tweet (06/15). Lawyer and activist Khaled Merheb was insulted and received death threats after he published a post in which he criticises the position adopted by the Mufti Abdul-Latif Derian on the issue of LGBTQIA+ rights (06/25). Also, journalist Moussa Saleh was victim of a smear campaign after he commented on a post criticising the LGBTQIA+ community (06/28), and the General Security summoned writer and activist Joey Ayoub but he didn’t show up due to his presence outside the country (06/20).

Also, the General Security banned Pixar’s Lightyear from screening in Lebanese movie theatres because of a scene involving a same-sex kiss between two of its characters (06/13). Instagram deleted the Thawramap account after one of its publications was massively reported and the page was restored two days later (06/19). The Beirut municipal police sealed the electric generator of the Sunflower Theatre with red wax because it did not meet environmental specifications but removed it two days later upon the Ministry of Tourism’s intervention (06/23).

In Syria, members of the opposition group Faylaq Al-Sham beat citizen journalists Mohammad Al-Daher, Ezzeddine al-Qassem, and Abdul-Aziz Qitaz in the Idlib countryside (06/01). Also, Syrian Minister of Culture Lubna Mushawah permanently banned Lebanese singer Hiba Tawaji and musician Osama Rahbani from performing at Dar Al-Assad for Culture and Arts (06/22).

In Jordan, the Amman Attorney General prevented audiovisual media and news websites from publishing any information related to the murder of student Iman Irsheed at the risk of being prosecuted (06/23). Furthermore, the Amman Magistrate’s Court sentenced in absentia journalist Heba Abu Taha – who currently lives in Doha – to three months in prison for defamation against an official authority (06/09).

In the West Bank, the Israeli forces fired stun grenades at Hebron Radio correspondent Misaab Al-Tamimi (06/03) and the European Agency photographer, Abdul-Hafiz Al-Hashlamun (06/11). They also insulted and beat freelance journalist Ma’mun Wazuz, Al-Hadath newspaper photographer Misaab Shawer, Palestine TV correspondent Azmi Banat, freelance photographer Sary Jradat, and Reuters agency crew members including correspondents Yusri Al-Jamal and photographer Moussa Al-Qawasimi (06/11). Furthermore, they sprayed Quds News Network correspondent Abdullah Tayssir Al-Bahesh, Reuters correspondent Raneen Sawafta, freelance photographer Adel Abu Nehmeh, and Palestine TV correspondent Amir Shaheen with pepper gas (06/06). They also arrested Sanad news agency correspondent Misaab Qfeisheh for four days (06/20).

Internally, members of the PA-affiliated Preventive Security Service and Intelligence as well as An-Najah University security officers severely assaulted J-media photographer Laith Jaar and broke his camera (06/08). Also, security officers abducted Al-Araby Al-Jadeed correspondent Samer Khweira and beat him over his journalistic work (06/14).

The concert of artist Bashar Murad was forcibly cancelled in Ramallah after young men stormed into the venue and threatened the organisers under the pretext that gay people were present (06/17).

In the Gaza Strip, Palestine Bank security agents beat Palestine daily correspondent Mohammad Abu Shahmeh and confiscated his mobile phone (06/30) while the General Intelligence summoned Dunia Al-Watan correspondent Mohammad Awad and questioned him over an article he published on Facebook, in which he criticises the soaring prices in stores (06/22). Also, Facebook blocked the account of our SKeyes correspondent in Gaza, Mohammad Othman, over a video (06/24).

In the 1948 Territories, unknown people threatened Al-Jarmaq website journalist Kamar Monasara and insulted her for closely following up on a trial (06/01) while the Tishreen association, which organises the Triangle Film Festival, cancelled the last day of screening after receiving threats because of a movie tackling LGBTQIA+ issues (06/13).  

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