SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Freedom of Expression Violations in the Levant - October 2020

Wednesday , 25 November 2020

In Syria, a citizen journalist was killed and five others arrested, while in Lebanon, a journalist risked being hit with gunfire, three media crews were prevented from covering local developments, another press team had its equipment broken and a reporter’s phone was seized. Also, a filmmaker was arrested and a correspondent was summoned twice, while both a journalist and an artist were questioned. Moreover, two journalists were targeted in smear campaigns. In Jordan, two journalists appeared before the public prosecutor and a third one decided to retire from journalism after he was victim of an online campaign. The Israeli forces arrested a journalist in the 1948 Territories and prevented an artist from entering the Palestinian territory. Furthermore, an Israeli Knesset committee called for banning a film and the security forces arrested both a journalist and a filmmaker after raiding their apartments in the West Bank. The Palestinian public prosecution summoned a journalist while another media professional was victim of a defamatory campaign and an actor subjected to censorship after criticising the Hamas movement. Below is a detailed summary of the violations monitored by the SKeyes Center in the four countries it covers.


In Lebanon, a security officer opened fire on journalist Mostafa Abdul-Rahman who was covering clashes in Tripoli (10/21) while Hezbollah supporters attacked Télé Liban’s news reporter Nayla Chahwan in Naqoura, confiscated her phone and broke the channel’s equipment. On the same day the An-Nahar and LBCI press teams were prevented from covering the second border negotiations session between Lebanon and Israel (10/28).


Also, film director Lucien Bourjeily was shortely detained at a military checkpoint in Badaro (10/19), actor Ziad Itani was summoned then questioned over alleged slanderous comments (10/15) and investigative journalist Riad Kobaissi was interrogated about his work (10/20). Moreover, journalist Dima Sadek received a summons from the Publications Court and another one to appear before the Single Criminal Judge (10/08) while intense hate campaigns targeted journalists Luna Safwan (10/01) and Mahassen Moursel (10/03) on Twitter. The An-Nahar administration decided to cease publication of the English news website on financial grounds (10/08).


In Syria, citizen journalist Rachid Al-Bakr was killed in an air strike in Idlib (10/26) and the Tahrir Al-Sham militant group arrested citizen journalists Mohammad Al-Debel (10/02), Ibrahim Trissi (10/05), Saleh Al-Hajj (10/05), as well as Fouad Basbous and his brother Muqdam (10/24).


On the other hand, Ishraq magazine removed an article written by citizen journalist Safa Al-Turki without any explanation (10/15).


In Jordan, Al-Ghad journalist Hamza Daana appeared before the Amman public prosecutor because of an article (10/07). Four days later, Al-Ghad editor-in-chief Makram Al-Tarawneh appeared before the same prosecutor for the same reason (10/11). The case was then referred to the court but no date is yet set for the hearing. Furthermore, Jordanian journalist and radio host Jihad Abu Baidar was victim of an online smear campaign; he decided to resign from Melody FM and retire from journalism (10/07).


In the West Bank, the Israeli forces arrested freelance journalist Tarek Abou Zeid (10/01) and filmmaker Abdul-Rahman Al-Daher (10/27) after raiding their apartments in Nablus. Two days later, the military court extended Al-Daher’s detention for eight days without any charge.


Also, the Palestinian public prosecutor in Ramallah summoned journalist Faten Alwan for questioning over a video (10/29), while journalist Firas Al-Tawil was victim of a smear campaign after he published an investigative report (10/19).


In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-affiliated ­Al-Aqsa channel prevented comedian Ali Nasman from participating in the second part of a TV series because of Facebook posts in which he criticises the Hamas policies.


In the 1948 Territories, the Israeli forces arrested photographer Abdul-Afu Zgheir for four hours while he was covering a protest in the Al-Aqsa mosque (10/29) and prevented artist Mohammad Assaf from entering the Palestinian territory for “engaging in provocative activities” (10/14). Finally, an Israeli Knesset committee has called for banning Mohammad Bakri’s movie “Jenin, Jenin” under the pretext that it “distorts the image of Israeli soldiers” (10/26).

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