Shiite editor who opposes Hezbollah responds to ‘smear campaign’

Ali Al-Amin was accused of cooperating with the official spokesman of the Israeli army to Arab media, Avichay Adraee. (Screengrab from Al Arabiya News)

The editor-in-chief of a Lebanese news site has spoken out against the suppression of media freedoms after accusations were made against him by Shiite organization Hezbollah last week.

Ali Al-Amin, who edits news site Janoubia.com, was accused of cooperating with the official spokesman of the Israeli army to Arab media, Avichay Adraee.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English on Sunday, Amin – who openly opposes Hezbollah – described the accusations as an “attempt to smear my name.”

Hezbollah’s statements, attributed to security figures belonging to the militant group, were circulated on Arabic social media sites. They claimed that Adraee had become the direct supervisor of Janoubia.com.

Launched three years ago, the site aims to present Shiite viewpoints that differ from Hezbollah stances, typically seen as dominating the sect’s media outlets.

“Their [Hezbollah’s] belief is that any oppositional voice belongs to an infiltrator,” he told Al Arabiya English.

“They carry out takfirist campaigns and sow distrust towards any person who opposes their point of view.”

Takfirism is a practice that several militant groups in the region have undertaken to accuse others of disbelief, or apostasy.

Amin, residing in the Hezbollah-dominated Beirut suburb of Dahieh, is believed to be among several Shiites that are not supporters of the militant group – but is one of the few to speak out.

“We are not a security apparatus, nor do we have a revolutionary agenda. We only seek to defend our right to freely express our own point of view,” the editor-in-chief said.

“Our field is dependent on taking a stance [against wrongdoings], expressing it and standing by it.”

In a separate interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, Amin criticized what he labeled as “false accusations.”

He said: “It is the least of our rights to speak loudly about this issue and express our anger because we realize that these accusations could not have been spread this way without an order from the party,” he said in reference to Hezbollah.

“We know that many people are not happy about the current situation [in Lebanon], but not many people have the courage to confront it.”

Hezbollah has previously attacked journalists or writers with opposing ideas before, such as Hanin Al-Ghaddar – the managing editor of NOW English – in 2014. She had criticized the militant group’s interference in Syria.

On Wednesday, Gulf States declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” group, the latest regional move against the Shiite organization’s involvement in the wars in Syria and Yemen.

These events have prompted Lebanese citizens and politicians to speak out against the militant group, which Gulf states believe has plunged the country in a state of turmoil and has roused domestic tensions.

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Last Update: 19:53 KSA 22:53 - GMT 19:53
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