Journalists quit Lebanon paper over anti-protest stance

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Four journalists have resigned from Lebanon’s pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar over the daily’s stance on an unprecedented wave of anti-government protests.

One journalist announced her resignation last week, another on Monday and two more followed suit on Tuesday, explaining their decision on social media.

One of them, leading economic journalist Mohammed Zbib, said he “resigned to protest against the newspaper management’s attitude towards the uprising.”

Since October 17, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have taken to the streets to demand better living conditions and a wholesale change of Lebanon’s corrupt and sectarian political system.

Al-Akhbar is among the most read and respected newspapers in Lebanon, including by those who do not share its political leanings.

Over the years, it has consistently produced pioneering coverage of the economic hardships faced by Lebanon’s least privileged, a key driver of the ongoing protests.

When the protests erupted nearly three weeks ago, initially over a proposed tax on phone calls via messaging apps, Al-Akhbar threw its weight behind the movement.

However, protesters’ grievances swiftly grew to demand the resignation of the entire ruling elite and a complete overhaul of a system that has returned the same politicians to power for decades.

RELATED: How Lebanon’s political leaders have responded to the protests

Hezbollah’s powerful leader Hassan Nasrallah faced unusual criticism, including within his own strongholds, and criticized the protest movement as reckless and manipulated by the West.

Al-Akhbar’s initial enthusiasm for the protests gave way to a stance cautioning against the government’s resignation and the emergence of a political vacuum.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a Hezbollah rival in the governing coalition, eventually bowed to street pressure on October 29 and announced his cabinet’s resignation.

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