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An Objection Not a Refutation! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The persistent slander about the appearance and performance of Lebanese men and women working in the media for falling loose of any ethical or political limitation has become futile to the extent of degradation and humiliation. This seems to be the case especially when some in the media are unable to conduct a logical political debate so they resort to ethical claims to hide their confusion and this crisis with themselves, and with their surroundings.

In an article entitled &#34Media Provocation Spoils the Freedom of Lebanon&#34 written by Ghassan Al-Imam on October 4 that featured in the opinion pages of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Al-Imam discussed the explosion that injured Lebanese journalist Mai Shedyak, whose arm and leg had to be amputated following the bombing. Al-Imam”s article targeted Shedyak with much disdain and disparagement to the extent that it insults the hospitalized journalist.

Lebanon may be the most tolerant of criticism amongst the Arab countries and societies. The pages of Arab newspapers and satellite screens are charged with much criticism for the Lebanese both as a society and as political and sectarian entities, and I do not believe that anyone who assaulted Lebanon or the Lebanese has been pursued or charged!

For anyone to have a conflicting opinion to that of Mai Shedyak or the institution to which she belongs is something that I respect and may not tackle. However, for someone to comment sarcastically on Shedyak”s new condition and to say, &#34the media professional, should she survive, has lost use of an arm and this condition will prove difficult if she wishes to continue her post as an anchorwoman,&#34 is despicable. Not only are such comments an insult to Mai Shedyak but also to all of us who read such words. It is humiliating for the readers of the newspaper in general and this is probably my motive for documenting this objection.

This is not the first criticism of the Lebanese scene, which differs, in a cultural and social sense from the familiar scenes of its surrounding environment. Disagreement with this environment, although justified and understood, does not give anyone the right to incorporate it into a context of collective or political conviction, noting that such an incorporation is a habit of many feeble minds and souls.

In my view, the article written by Mr. Al-Imam is not worthy of debate because it does not propose ideas. One reads it only out of the horror that captures us when we are reminded of where and amongst whom we live! I will not address politics here because the mentioned article was thrust in a cloak of politics to present personal disparage, full of Arab masculinity that still causes many to choke as they hide behind their title of a writer to conceal a crisis from which they have not recovered. Thus, if Mai Shedyak is the victim of violence and vague political situations in our region, the writer of the mentioned article is a typical victim and an expressive image of our psychological and social crises resulting from living under our stumbling regimes and our culturally and humanly immature societies.

We cannot debate the mentioned article, as it is irrelevant material made up of insults and personal humiliation. Mr. Al-Imam mentions Mai Shedyak”s marriage, which lasted for a few months. His reference to her short marriage is an attempt to use private life to prove political guilt. How does the article benefit by mentioning her unsuccessful marriage?

The writer”s arguments are weak as he seeks to provoke what he calls, &#34Timidity of the Gulf female which restricts her moral laxity.&#34 His defense of morals in the Gulf is to gain support to his argument, however the writer fails to address the timidity of Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi or Jordanian women. Do they not deserve the writer”s attention?

The claim that Lebanon is a superficial, self-contradictory and unstable country, this means that it has not been killed by an oppressive order. Mr. Al-Imam and many others do not miss the fact that in Lebanon we were close to becoming victims of such an order that only produces stronger criticism. I consider the country of the writer and his society (Syria) aloof of his ideas and I pray that God may keep them safe from such tendencies! We must reiterate once again that Lebanon”s disagreement with itself is a condition of development that a state must experience.

The writer had set a trap for those he praised in his article or in another sense associated them with his language, which now requires that they declare themselves innocent of his words. A little intelligence would lead them to a position of convicting both him and his article. They need to condemn completely this kind of writing.

As for our colleague Mai Shedyak, I do not believe that she needs to hear words of this nature. She has survived the attack and we await her recovery so that she can testify that there is no place for Al-Imam”s comments in her memory or ours.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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