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Lebanon and violated citizenship

Citizenship in Lebanon has fallen into the hands of mobs - we must restore it from them

Diana Moukalled

Published: Updated:

Some Lebanese men attacked the offices of Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in Beirut, damaged property, hurled insults and terrorized staff to protest against a satirical caricature. They then left the building and celebrated what they did. There were no security forces in the area to notice and stop them. People here are not even embarrassed by the idea of storming offices and institutions, as these men even brought cameras and media representatives.

Defending Lebanon becomes daunting when a group of men can behave in such a way without anyone deterring them. Some of them think it is OK to replace Lebanon’s flag with Hezbollah’s. Some participated in campaigns in which the cedar on the Lebanese flag was replaced with a garbage bag to protest the recent trash crisis.

This is not the first time a media outlet’s office is stormed in Lebanon. The most dangerous incident was when Hezbollah closed and burnt the offices of the Future Movement’s media outlets in 2008 during its famous attack on Beirut. Those who attacked Asharq al-Awsat’s offices do not care that Hezbollah sees nothing in Lebanon but a gelatinous entity with no borders or sovereignty. The party has repeatedly violated and insulted this sovereignty.

Overreaction

The caricature that Amjad Rasmi drew in Asharq al-Awsat criticized the concept of the Lebanese state and described it as an “April fool.” The caricature was harsh, provocative, inappropriate, and included all of Lebanon rather than just the state. However, after I saw how these men stormed its offices, I realized that they proved the caricature correct.

How can we be convinced that we are citizens in a state that is not present? This is the essence of our crisis. Citizenship in Lebanon has fallen into the hands of mobs - we must restore it from them.

Diana Moukalled

How can we be convinced that we are citizens in a state that is not present? This is the essence of our crisis. A few hours before the offices were attacked, security forces revealed details of a ring involved in trafficking female Syrian refugees. This exposed scary facts about our reality in Lebanon. This news did not make anyone afraid for a country that is falling apart.

The caricature may have included the whole country, but the reaction revealed a vulgar concept of citizenship that is sponsored by those who violate its real essence. Citizenship in Lebanon has fallen into the hands of mobs - we must restore it from them.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Apr. 04, 2016.
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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.