Army intervenes after brawl erupts on Lebanese talk show

Update Army intervenes after brawl erupts on Lebanese talk show
Social media commentators accused MTV presenter Marcel Ghanem of pitting his show’s guests against each other. (Twitter/Sourced)
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Updated 22 July 2023

Army intervenes after brawl erupts on Lebanese talk show

Army intervenes after brawl erupts on Lebanese talk show
  • Wiam Wahab and reporter Simon Abu Fadel trade blows, profanity
  • MTV accused of provoking guests for extra viewers and followers

BEIRUT: The brawl that erupted on air Thursday night between a former minister and a journalist sparked widespread condemnation on Friday across Lebanon.

The talk show, “Sar El-Wa’et” (It’s About Time) on MTV hosted by Marcel Ghanem, brought together former government minister Wiam Wahab, known for his close ties to Hezbollah and its allies, and journalist Simon Abou Fadel, whose stances are often aligned with the Lebanese Forces party.

The dispute began when the discussion turned to US sanctions imposed on Wahab, and escalated when Abou Fadel remarked that “the US disciplines the Lebanese.”

Wahab then assaulted Abou Fadel, and Wahab’s bodyguards also intervened. Abou Fadel fell to the ground, being continuously hit until the broadcast was cut off.

Lebanese Armed Forces personnel arrived at the station’s premises to take control of the situation. The broadcast later resumed, and Wahab apologized on air before he was asked to leave by Ghanem.

Abou Fadel reappeared with bruises on his face and mouth, and said into a camera: “What happened to me just a while ago is nothing but a part of what has happened to some honorable people who paid the price for their stances.”

He then mentioned political figures including the Lebanese Forces party leader, Samir Geagea, “who was imprisoned because of his stances.”

A source from the journalists’ syndicate in Lebanon told Arab News: “Both Wahab and Abou Fadel are members of the journalist community. Wahab was a journalist before becoming a minister. What happened is disgraceful to our profession and to the freedom of expression that we advocate for. It deviated from the norms of political discourse. It is necessary to refer both individuals to the disciplinary council.”

The syndicate issued a statement calling on journalists to “exercise the utmost wisdom and discretion when participating in talk shows.” It said the incident was “shocking and embarrassing” to the Lebanese public and the country’s media, and that the incident was “not the first of (its) kind on television screens in Lebanon and abroad.”

However, the syndicate pointed out that this particular incident highlights Lebanon’s urgent need to break free from the suffocating atmosphere prevailing in the country.

Dr. Ragheb Jaber, a journalism professor at the Lebanese University, said he believed that some TV shows in Lebanon and other Arab countries intentionally provoke conflicts that may lead to physical confrontations in pursuit of higher ratings.

Jaber said the recent brawl reflects the sharp divisions and tensions dominating the political life in Lebanon, especially since this particular talk show brought together two highly polarizing figures, igniting the fight.

He added that these two figures represent the extreme views of their respective political factions and their encounter was bound to lead to confrontation, a fact that the show’s host should have taken seriously. Jaber said political and even social shows have started to teeter on the brink.

“They deliberately provoke guests against each other, unfortunately, finding an audience that enjoys this kind of programming, where shouting and even clashes prevail.”

He added that in Lebanon, disagreements quickly turn into sectarian and denominational disputes, as the figures usually invited to such talk shows represent sectarian forces rather than themselves.

“These forces cling to their blocs, hindering any political solution. What was witnessed on television (on Thursday) was a distressing and damaging scene for the image of the media, democracy, and freedom of expression. We have reached a stage where no one can tolerate the other anymore,” Jaber said.

The aftermath of what happened resulted in a dispute between Wahab and the Lebanese Kataeb Party, which supported Abou Fadel.

A Kataeb press release called what happened to Abou Fadel a “brutal and savage attack, live on air, against a journalist expressing his opinion, and it falls under the category of militia-like and thuggish behavior.”

The Arab Unification Party, led by Wahab, claimed in a statement that Abou Fadel was prepped in advance for the episode, and the show’s producer knew that Wahab had refused to engage with him, noting that Wahab was scheduled to speak for 15 minutes and then leave.

The Lebanese Forces party said that political discourse has reached its limits, and the physical assault on Abou Fadel reflected an attitude that in place of dialogue, some feel political perspectives can legitimately be forced on the Lebanese people. Several MPs expressed their solidarity with Abou Fadel. The Catholic Media Center also took a stance, with its director, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, saying that Lebanon “is characterized by freedom of the press and freedom of expression.”

He called for “a return to respectful political dialogues to preserve what distinguishes Lebanon in terms of authenticity and respect for freedoms.”

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
Updated 27 May 2024

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article

Online anger following The Atlantic’s ‘possible to kill children legally’ in Gaza article
  • The Atlantic’s writer Graeme Wood suggested that in certain scenarios killing of children can be legally justifiable
  • Campaign group condemned the piece, calling the The Atlantic’s stance on the issue ‘egregious’

LONDON: The Atlantic has ignited a wave of online criticism after publishing an article arguing that “it is possible to kill children legally” in Gaza.

Titled “The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense,” the opinion piece by staff writer Graeme Wood questioned the accuracy of the UN’s civilian death toll numbers from the Israeli war on Gaza.

Wood suggested that the UN’s statistics were unreliable, claiming they are sourced from Hamas.

“The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond ‘a lot.’ It gets its statistics from Hamas,” the piece read.

Wood, known for his skeptical stance toward Hamas and Palestine since the conflict erupted last October, controversially suggested that in certain scenarios, the killing of children can be legally justifiable.

Despite acknowledging that “even when conducted legally, war is ugly,” Wood argued, “It is possible to kill children legally, if for example one is being attacked by an enemy who hides behind them. But the sight of a legally killed child is no less disturbing than the sight of a murdered one,” he wrote.

The article sparked a significant online backlash, with the campaign group Writers Against the War on Gaza (WAWOG) condemning The Atlantic for the article.

“Eight months into the genocide and western media is still manufacturing consent for Zionism,” the group wrote in a post on X on Sunday.

“Defending child murder is egregious; but @TheAtlantic has historically defended imperial bloodshed,” WAWOG added.

Users took to social media to express their frustration over the article, with some questioning the legality of Wood’s claim and calling his choice of words “disgusting.”

“‘A legally killed child’ is a phrase I never imagined I would read in my lifetime,” wrote Lebanese political activist and musician Peter Daou on X.

Others have also called for canceling their subscriptions to The Atlantic.

The backlash comes as Israeli airstrikes killed at least 45 people on Sunday, hitting tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, with reports that people were “burning alive.”

These attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, described by the UNRWA as “horrifying.”

According to Gaza’s health ministry, the death toll in Gaza has neared 36,000 people, with the vast majority being children and women.

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
Updated 27 May 2024

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum

Bahrain’s youth rep taps into Kennedy with speech to Arab youth at Dubai media forum
  • Youth ‘can craft a better future for us all,’ says Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa
  • Praises Gulf leaders ‘who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election’

DUBAI: Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs, delivered a sharply defined message to Arab youth and their custodians.

In a speech at the Arab Media Summit, Al-Khalifa echoed the words of former US President John F. Kennedy, saying: “For a better world and a prosperous country, one must ask themselves what I can do for my country rather than what can my country do for me.

“The youth, which make up over 60 percent of our citizens today, is very different than previous generations. They have become the driving force behind certain industries and have taken to adopting certain causes that will craft a better future for us all.

“They are engaged in political and civil societies more than ever before throughout history. They have even managed to become successful in sectors such as journalism, social media in forms of content, podcasts and also showing sharp wit in investments and trade.”

Al-Khalifa, who served in a military academy, said he carries the academy’s message of “in order to serve, you must lead” throughout his life and policies.

 “While challenges can occur, as it did during the COVID pandemic, which affected not only economies but personal lives as well, it was a lesson to be learned. We came out of it, and we are at a better place now.

“Challenges are opportunities. Some folk lost a lot during the pandemic, while others progressed, and the difference between the two is that one seized the opportunity to create and further themselves. while others remained still.”

On the subject of open borders and one being a “global citizen,” Al-Khalifa urged the youth and their elders to continue to strive, travel, experience and learn, but to maintain a “moral direction that connects and centers you to who you are: an Arab.”

He added: “We are an Arab ummah, and what does that mean? It is a legacy, it is victories, accomplishments, values that we have carried and learned from our forefathers that we continue to build on today. To take on Western concepts such as ‘global citizen,’ one can be lost. Our identity is Arab first and foremost.

“Our religion, Islam, urged us to read, learn and engage. And that is what we do with other countries as we both compete and cooperate with them.

“Know who you are and where your roots lie. Some societies have become fragmented due to their abandonment of their values. Nowadays, we have Westerners who are enrolling their children in our schools to keep them centered and away from social and moral confusion.

“While it is valid and important to ride the new wave in terms of technology and progress of open borders to make our countries better, I urge fathers and mothers to continue to stress on an upbringing that focuses identity and positive moral values.

“We want to invest in our youth. It is important that they feel seen, valued, trusted and supported and wanted. If we do that, then their stock will never plummet. They are half of our present and all of our future.”

He concluded his speech by saying how blessed the Gulf is to have leaders “who are focused on the next generation rather than the next election,” and offered a prayer to the lives lost in Gaza.

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth
Updated 27 May 2024

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

Arab Media Forum opens in Dubai with focus on youth

DUBAI: The annual Arab Media Forum launched in Dubai on Monday for a three-day summit involving media leaders and executives from across the region.

This year’s forum is geared toward youth, focusing on arming the next generation of journalists and media professionals with the tools and know-how to thrive in the ever-growing industry in the Arab world.

For the past two decades, the forum has brought together regional and international speakers to discuss the industry’s challenges and impact on Arab societies.

More than 1,000 creative and media students are expected to attend, along with prominent Arab personalities, content creators and global media industry leaders taking part in a range of panel discussions and master classes.

Notable speakers include Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the king’s representative for humanitarian work and youth affairs in Bahrain; and Dr. Sultan Al-Neyadi, the UAE’s minister of state for youth affairs.

Monday’s schedule includes master classes on Meta, tools for storytelling, interactive media, as well as building personal brands.

Panels and discussions on the opening day cover sports media, the art of directing and redefining storytelling.

Tuesday and Wednesday will feature discussions on key political, economic and technological developments by media personalities, editors in chief, writers and experts from the region and around the world.

The forum will close with an awards ceremony recognizing content creators and journalists in a range of categories.

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
Updated 27 May 2024

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study

Over 300 million children a year face sexual abuse online: study
  • One in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video
  • Grim trend on the rise with US worst offender, University of Edinburgh’s researchers says

LONDON: More than 300 million children a year are victims of online sexual exploitation and abuse, according to the first global estimate of the scale of the problem published on Monday.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that one in eight of the world’s children have been victims of non-consensual taking, sharing and exposure to sexual images and video in the past 12 months.
That amounts to about 302 million young people, said the university’s Childlight Global Child Safety Institute, which carried out the study.
There have been a similar number of cases of solicitation, such as unwanted sexting and requests for sexual acts by adults and other youths, according to the report.
Offences range from so-called sextortion, where predators demand money from victims to keep images private, to the abuse of AI technology to create deepfake videos and pictures.
The problem is worldwide but the research suggests the United States is a particularly high-risk area, with one in nine men there admitting to online offending against children at some point.
“Child abuse material is so prevalent that files are on average reported to watchdog and policing organizations once every second,” said Childlight chief executive Paul Stanfield.
“This is a global health pandemic that has remained hidden for far too long. It occurs in every country, it’s growing exponentially, and it requires a global response,” he added.
The report comes after UK police warned last month about criminal gangs in West Africa and Southeast Asia targeting British teenagers in sextortion scams online.
Cases — particularly against teenage boys — are soaring worldwide, according to non-governmental organizations and police.
Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) issued an alert to hundreds of thousands of teachers telling them to be aware of the threat their pupils might face.
The scammers often pose as another young person, making contact on social media before moving to encrypted messaging apps and encouraging the victim to share intimate images.
They often make their blackmail demands within an hour of making contact and are motivated by extorting as much money as possible rather than sexual gratification, the NCA said.

Media watchdog files ICC case over journalists’ deaths in Gaza

Media watchdog files ICC case over journalists’ deaths in Gaza
Updated 27 May 2024

Media watchdog files ICC case over journalists’ deaths in Gaza

Media watchdog files ICC case over journalists’ deaths in Gaza
  • Prosecutor requested to investigate alleged war crimes committed against at least nine Palestinian reporters

The Hague, NLD: Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Monday it had filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court over Palestinian journalists killed or injured in Gaza.
RSF said it was asking the ICC’s prosecutor to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli army against at least nine Palestinian reporters since December 15.
The ICC said in January it was probing potential crimes against journalists since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza, which has cost the lives of more than 100 reporters.
RSF said it had “reasonable grounds for thinking that some of these journalists were deliberately killed and that the others were the victims of deliberate IDF (Israel Defense Force) attacks against civilians.”
This specific complaint — the third the RSF has made — concerns eight Palestinian journalists killed between December 20 and May 20, and one other who sustained injuries.
“All concerned journalists were killed (or injured) in the course of their work,” RSF said in a statement.
Antoine Bernard, RSF advocacy and assistance director, said: “Those who kill journalists are attacking the public’s right to information, which is even more essential in times of conflict.”
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan last week asked the court to issue arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for alleged war crimes and crimes and humanity.
Israel has strongly denied the allegation and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that to draw a parallel between Hamas and Israeli leaders was “despicable.”

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 107 journalists and media workers have been killed during the Gaza war, the “deadliest period for journalists since CPJ began gathering data in 1992.”
The RSF complaint includes the case of two Palestinian journalists killed in January while working for Al Jazeera.
Hamza Wael Dahdouh and Mustafa Thuria, who also worked as a video stringer for AFP and other news organizations, were killed while they were “on their way to carry out their duty” for the channel in the Gaza Strip, the network said.
The Israeli army told AFP at the time it had “struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops.”
It added it was “aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the terrorist were also hit.”
The Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to data from the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.