Lebanese media, Hezbollah and our silenced voices

Diana Moukalled

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Lebanon’s Hezbollah has recently resorted to the judiciary, filing a slander lawsuit against Lebanese talk show host Dima Sadek.

This kept us busy during the past week in Lebanon, considering the contradictions surrounding the incident. On the political front, this is the first time Hezbollah, who frequently displays little interest in rights and freedoms, resorts to the judiciary or the state which it has long behaved as being above and unconcerned about.

On the legal front, it turned out that the lawsuit is totally invalid as it was primarily based on a comment attributed to Sadek on social media networks and it turned out that she had nothing to do with it. The rest of the case was based on questions that Sadek asked during a television show regarding the slogan "All of You Means All of You." Recently, protesters against corrupt politicians have held up placards reading: "We will not elect you again, and all of you means all of you,” - which includes Hezbollah.

We in Lebanon have lost almost everything; there's no solid state, no solid economy and no security. All we have left are voices that many are attempting to silence.

Diana Moukalled

So what was upsetting here? The questions Sadek asked? Sadek's identity? Or is it the slogan "All of You Means All of You" and the act of daring to turn Hezbollah's supports against it during these civil movement protests?

Hezbollah did not resort to the judiciary because it seeks to achieve the justice that it doesn't provide for its rivals. It has repeatedly issued rulings and executed them regardless of the state and its judiciary. However in the case of Dima Sadek, the party's way of executing its “verdict” is actually through the uproar caused by the lawsuit itself. This is of course accompanied with the attempts, which are almost organized, to destroy Sadek's character, credibility and image. Once again, hashtags, comments and news surfaced on social media networks in an attempt to isolate Sadek and media personalities like her.

Despite acknowledging that the lawsuit is weak on a legal front, people affiliated with Hezbollah and supporters of the group did not hesitate to launch campaigns aiming to defame and socially destroy Sadek by addressing her appearance and identity. Of course these cowardly acts, which also include spreading lies, know no limits.

When considering this incident (while there is no case here), I believe it is an attempt to eliminate, socially dominate and control others.

At this point, defamation and lying are the campaign and its purpose, and this is a verdict that's harsher than anything the judiciary can rule on. Many know that Hezbollah will not win the lawsuit due to the weak legal basis of the case but what is happening here is an attempt to discipline and intimidate Sadek, who seems to be alone in this confrontation as she does not belong to a political or a sectarian party.

This alone makes others superior to her, according to Lebanese calculations. Sadek, despite the voices of solidarity with her, still lacks the support needed by those who engage in such confrontations in Lebanon. It's also interesting that despite some March 14 parties’ solidarity with Sadek, many March 14 supporters took to social media networks to doubt Sadek's affiliations, hinting that she supports Hezbollah and this whole lawsuit case is preplanned. The case here is regarding an individual who dared - even if relatively - to defy her surroundings. In this case, this individual is a well-known woman against an ideological armed party that categorizes itself as stronger than the state on political, social and security levels.

Attempts to oversimplify this case are only a reflection of the deep desire to submit to a sectarian logic.

The confrontation between Dima Sadek and Hezbollah is not a minor issue, like some have tried to picture it. It is an issue that touches the essence of civil society as well as personal and media freedoms regardless of all political stances or stances on certain media outlets. We in Lebanon have lost almost everything; there's no solid state, no solid economy and no security. All we have left are voices that many are attempting to silence.

This is the fate we are trying to stand against.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 9, 2015.

Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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