Clashes at MTV: a visibly premeditated act

It seems that the scuffle that occurred Thursday evening in and around the studios of the television channel MTV was premeditated. During the Sar el-Waet program broadcast live on the channel and under the gaze of viewers, a fight broke out between Aounis supporters and part of the audience present in the studio.

It was precisely as MPs Waddah Sadek (Change) and Charbel Maroun (CPL) were debating the political crisis in Lebanon that members of the public clashed, despite star host Marcel Ghanem’s incessant pleas to put end to these skirmishes. Despite this rising tension between supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement and other guests, Mr. Ghanem did not stop the show. “The confrontation moved from inside the studio to the outside courtyard and the entrance to MTV, where gunfire occurred,” MTV said.

In a statement, the Lebanese channel accuses members of the Aounist “Old Guard” of having been behind these scuffles, which is clearly evidenced by the tweet published by Roy Haddad, supporter of the CPL, which threatens explicitly the presenter: “Marcel Ghanem, we have you in the crosshairs”. Moreover, in the videos that have been circulating since Thursday evening on social networks, that of a woman who encourages Aounist supporters to enter the studio has confirmed that it is indeed an organized act. A source interviewed by Ici Beyrouth confirms this thesis by declaring that “when MP Maroun arrived at the studio, he was accompanied by certain people whose names did not appear on the list of participants”. Their entry having been refused, they had to remain outside the building.

At the time of the clash, MTV security agents intervened to restore calm before expelling the CPL supporters outside. The latter, who remained in the confines of the television channel, attacked the Lebanese army, “after having tried to occupy the premises, supported by the Old Guard (group of veterans affiliated with the Aounist party)”, indicates the above source. Armed, however, they could not resist the army, which escorted them to the main road that leads to MTV. In its statement, MTV accused supporters of the CPL and the Old Guard of “raising their weapons and chanting the slogan God, Lebanon, Aoun or nothing”.

Friday morning, the channel declared that it will refuse, until further notice, “to welcome Aounis supporters” but that it will continue to “receive speakers belonging to the CPL to allow them to express their positions and those of their party”.

Strong reactions to the attacks perpetrated by the CPL

Following this incident, several political figures denounced the Aounist violence. Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called CPL supporters oppressors: “I strongly condemn the attacks of these individuals who intend to intimidate the TV channel, pressure its members and make them to hush up”. He considered that “in a country where citizens value freedom of expression, such practices should be banned”. He considered that these “incitements to sectarian mobilization” are the consequence of “a realization within certain political parties which have recently suffered defeats and have failed to disrupt the proper functioning of public institutions”.

For his part, MP Akram Chehayeb (Progressive Socialist Party) wrote on his Twitter account: “Sar el-Waet (The time has come – in reference to the title of the show, editor’s note) to stop the attacks on freedoms public, media, and free speech”. He recalled the Syrian regime’s attempts to silence the media. “Today, these maneuvers are those of the local parties who would do well to remember that the television channel was their mouthpiece,” he said.

MP Achraf Rifi (independent) told MTV and Mr. Ghanem of “his support in the face of the slander perpetrated by those who have failed nationally and who, as usual, resort to incitement and to sedition”.

For his part, MP Ghayath Yazbeck (Lebanese Forces) blamed the Old Guard for the attack on MTV, calling the CPL supporters “a product of the immutable ideology of the former President of the Republic, Michel Aoun “. MP Ghada Ayoub (FL), wrote on her Twitter account: “MTV was and will remain a platform for freedom of expression in Lebanon, despite all the attacks or attempted attacks aimed at it”.

In a tweet published on Friday, MP Marc Daou (Change) stressed the need to “respect the freedom of the media, which is also ours”. He accused “the militia (aouniste, editor’s note) of being the disturbing element which has controlled the state for years and which, today, doomed to failure, can only manifest itself in such acts”. His colleague Rami Finj said, also on Twitter, that “the day when we understand that the time for threats and armed combat is over, we will have taken a step towards the recovery of the country”.

Former MP Misbah Ahdab also attacked the CPL, via his Twitter account: “Those who have demanded reform and change have allied themselves with the demons of corruption and have managed to elect Michel Aoun to the presidency which led the country to hell”. And to continue: “Today, he will do everything, even if it means sowing discord in the country, to ensure that the son-in-law of the former President of the Republic comes to power”. He called on justice to take charge of this case and punish the attackers.

Arab Unification Party chairman and former minister Wiam Wahab wrote in a tweet that “Any attack on any media institution is rejected, regardless of the perpetrator. MTV remains a space for free expression without discrimination. “.

The Order of Journalists issued a statement in which it strongly condemned the attack on MTV. “Such acts contradict the obligation to respect the sanctity of media institutions,” the statement read. The order called on the Lebanese courts to “take up the case and conduct a rapid and transparent investigation to elucidate the circumstances and take appropriate measures with regard to the perpetrators concerned”. He said a meeting is scheduled for next week to discuss the role of the media in light of the current political situation.

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Clashes at MTV: a visibly premeditated act