Many Lebanese politicians have said they enjoy comedy sketches imitating them. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has hosted those who have impersonated him at his residence. Lebanese are used to this form of satire, but not Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
When he was impersonated a decade ago, the team behind the sketch had to be protected from his supporters.
When Nasrallah was asked during an interview why the sketch angered him, he evasively said it was his supporters who got angry, then clarified that he does not accept derogatory impersonations.
In a TV sketch on Saturday, Saudi actor Khaled al-Farraj impersonated Nasrallah and poked fun at his contradictory statements. The sketch was immediately followed by angry protests in southern Beirut. Future Movement leader Saad Hariri urged restraint among his supporters.
What is strange is that Hezbollah lectures people about morals, ethics, not harming people and respecting shrines, while Nasrallah’s speeches are full of defamatory insults and offensive language that children must not be allowed to hear.
A poll held by a TV station in a number of Beirut neighborhoods asked: “Do you accept that Nasrallah be impersonated?”
When a man answered no, the presenter asked him: “Is he sacred?” He answered: “No he’s not sacred.. but it’s impossible to imagine that he’s being impersonated.” The herd’s formula: Nasrallah is not sacred but sacred!
This article first appeared on Okaz newspaper on March 3, 2016.
Turki Al-Dakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.