Beirut – The Lebanese Minister of Information, George Kordahi, criticized the media in his country, saying that it is carrying out an “attack on the dignity of politicians”, in a new controversial statement, especially at a time when the Lebanese people are increasingly resentful of the political class and are holding them responsible for the country’s catastrophic crises.
Kordahi’s criticism came during his meeting with a delegation from the Lebanese Press Editors Syndicate, headed by Captain Joseph Al-Qusifi, during which they reviewed the affairs of the media sector and discussed the media law that has been discussed for years without reaching a formula that satisfies all parties.
Kordahi pointed out that “there is a great complaint from the vast majority of the Lebanese about some media’s evasion,” stressing that “he will study and prepare a media code of honor with our media colleagues, aimed at respecting the dignity, freedoms and merits of others, in addition to studying other laws found in parliamentary committees.” He added, “We are heading towards a new future, so let us establish systems and rules for the Lebanese media in the long term.”
Sami Kleib: We fear deliberate plans to muzzle and domesticate the media
Journalists and workers in the Lebanese media sector deplored Qardahi’s statements that triumph over politicians and confiscate freedom of expression and a basic principle of the press, which is the accountability of the political class, especially in a country like Lebanon where accountability journalism is of paramount importance due to rampant corruption in the country and the economic crises caused by politicians.
Qardahi seems to adhere to his critical position on freedom of expression in the media, despite the widespread controversy that arose in his previous statements upon taking office, in which he called for not hosting “missionaries of hell” on Lebanese screens.
Some saw that the Lebanese media is on the verge of a new wave of repression, and the journalist Sami Kulaib said in a tweet on Twitter, “We fear that there will be deliberate plans to muzzle and tame the media, so we must not be silent and strengthen communication with international institutions defending freedom of the media and people.”
The Alternative Press Syndicate denounced what Qardahi issued in his first statement, saying that he “allowed himself to play the role of guardian of the media and determine what should be said and what should be withheld, by calling on the media not to host analysts who referred to the exposed quotas in the formation of Government”.
The assembly warned the authority against playing this role, calling for “respect for media freedoms,” stressing that “attempts to transform Lebanon into a security state will be confronted by media professionals first.” The assembly reminded the need to abolish the Ministry of Information, as is the case with democratic countries that respect freedom of expression.
A few months ago, the Ministry of Information submitted fundamental amendments to the “media law” proposal to protect all journalists and media professionals, pending approval in the House of Representatives, but they were not approved.
The amendments enhance the protection of journalists and media professionals from any violation or harassment they may be subjected to, and abolish the Publications Court, so that media actions are referred to a media-specialized court, where violations against journalists and activists have expanded through campaigns of incitement and threats on social media, security summons and lawsuits, all of which aim to: Limiting freedoms and conveying the truth, but the new directions of the Minister of Information seem not to go in favor of press and media freedom in the country, with accusations leveled at the media and acquitting politicians and giving them the role of victim by the inactive media.
Qardahi did not hide his tendency to undermine the pattern based on freedom of expression in the media, which is guaranteed by the Lebanese constitution, speaking of controls for the media and demanding that they be texts within the law to be approved.