Lebanon newspaper goes blank to protest political crisis

An-Nahar's chief executive Nayla Tueni holds a blank edition of an-Nahar newspaper during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon October 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Lebanon newspaper goes blank to protest political crisis

  • An-Nahar, which was founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print
  • Despite more than five months of wrangling, premier-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s oldest newspaper An-Nahar went out to newsstands completely blank on Thursday to protest a political deadlock and economic woes in the tiny Mediterranean country.
Despite more than five months of wrangling, premier-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new government, putting a precious $11-billion aid package at risk.
An-Nahar, which was founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print and linkless white boxes on its main page online, posting headlines but no news items.
“People are tired and An-Nahar is tired of writing up your pretexts and repeated empty promises,” editor-in-chief Nayla Al-Tueni said at a press conference in Beirut.
“God knows how long we will wait to see” a decision on a cabinet line-up, she said.
A new government would be able to sign off on billions of dollars in aid pledged at a conference in April, notably to help boost the country’s ailing infrastructure.
But political parties in the small multi-confessional country have been locked in dispute over the makeup of a future cabinet.
“The situation is no longer bearable,” Tueni said, adding, however, that the newspaper was not taking sides in the ongoing wrangling.
The blank issue aimed to express “our deep moral sense of responsibility as a press institution over the disastrous state of the country,” she said.
Economic growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of a series of political crises, compounded by the war since 2011 in neighboring Syria.
An-Nahar has faced financial difficulties in recent years, while other landmark newspapers have shuttered.
Successive governments in Lebanon have been unable to address a waste management crisis, or improve an electricity grid that causes daily power cuts.
In recent days, Lebanese have complained of wastewater arriving in their taps at home, with activists sharing images on social media of vegetables soaking in murky water.
The tiny country, which weathered its own civil war from 1975 to 1990, has a multi-confessional system of government that seeks to represent all religious sects.


Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

Updated 21 July 2019
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Twitter blocks accounts of Iranian state media outlets

  • Twitter said the accounts harassed people linked to the Baha’i faith
  • The Baha’i faith is a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran

WASHINGTON: A day after Twitter suspended the accounts of several Iranian state media outlets, the social networking service said Saturday it acted after harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith.
Amid soaring tensions in the region, heightened by Iran’s seizure on Friday of a British-flagged tanker, some of the affected media outlets had speculated that the suspensions were related to their coverage of the seizure.
But Twitter cited what it said was the coordinated and targeted harassment of people linked to the Baha’i faith, a religious minority that has long faced persecution in Iran.
It did not name the suspended accounts, and said it was continuing to investigate the matter.
“Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules,” read English-language messages on each of the Iranian media outlets’ accounts.
Mehr news agency, which is close to moderate conservatives in Iran, said its Farsi-language account appeared to have been blocked late Friday following its reports on the seizure of the tanker Stena Impero in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it seized the Swedish-owned tanker for breaking “international maritime rules” in the strait, a chokepoint for around a third of the world’s sea-borne oil.
Mehr’s Farsi-language Twitter page was inaccessible on Saturday, along with those of the official IRNA news agency and the agency of the Young Journalists’ Club.
“Since last night and after seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz the account of the Young Journalists’ Club and some other users have been suspended,” the YJC said on its website.
Mehr noted that its Mehr Diplomacy account, which publishes analysis and interviews on foreign policy, was also offline.
Another account taken down belonged to Ali Akbar Raefipoor, a hard-line public speaker.
None of the owners of the suspended accounts said they had been given any reason for the move by Twitter.
The micro-blogging platform is banned in Iran, but many officials still have accounts and people access them by using a virtual private network, or VPN, to bypass censorship.