Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

From Lebanon to Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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One has difficulty these days resisting the temptation to making the obvious comparison between the media campaigns for the election taking place next Sunday in Lebanon, and the election that will take place four days later in Iran.

There is an election fever in both countries that did not occur during previous elections, and the results of one election will undoubtedly reflect upon the other. This fact is as clear as the statements made by Iranian President Ahmadinejad regarding the fate of the Lebanese elections and his belief that a victory for the opposition in the Lebanese elections represents a victory to the “resistance” movement in the region.

Political signs and slogans in Lebanon have been dyed [in the colors of political parties] blue, orange, yellow, and red, and the Lebanese bias with regards to one’s [political] color is close to racism. There is also a rainbow of [political] colors in Iran; comprised of green, white, and yellow, but not orange, as this color is the symbol of “an imported culture.” And so [in Iran] colors that symbolize local values have been emphasized. The Iranian media, specifically the official media organs, are keeping a watchful eye on the Lebanese elections on a daily basis.

The Lebanese electoral scene has witnessed media campaigns, political debates and slogans on an unprecedented scale from previous elections, especially those that took place during the Syrian era in Lebanon. Electoral debates have reached Iran, and debates between the presidential candidates will begin in a few days time, whilst preparations [for this] have already gotten underway with the broadcast of documentary films on the candidates. The Lebanese elections are taking place amidst public and media division, pushing many media agencies towards “publicizing” [one party or another], using insults and lies [to do this]. We must also note that the Iranian elections are taking place at a time when the state is in control of the media, although the Iranian’s have the capacity to escape from this control by way of non-traditional and online media. SMS text messaging and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are an important forum for Ahmadinejad’s opponents, especially the reformist candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who forced authorities to re-open both these websites after they had been blocked by the government for a number of days.

The elections in Lebanon are taking place amidst a climate of media disorder, when compared to the Iranian election.

This election fever has been transmitted from Lebanon to Iran, and can be seen in the variety of [political] colours, statements, [political] campaigning, and the role played by the media.

But in essence, it seems that this fever is reversed, in that Iran has the potential to affect the election in Lebanon. The [electoral] regulations are overwhelmed by [political] slogans, not to mention Ahmadinejad’s allies [in Lebanon] who represent one of the facets of democratic sterility transmitted by Iran onto the electoral scene in Lebanon.

The news media also did not survive this [Iranian interference], and I am talking about the entire Lebanese media. Professionalism has declined to the lowest possible level with regards to political affiliation, which is one of the main effects of this [democratic] sterility. The media’s shift towards a media service that lack credibility and objectivity is the most prominent feature of the Lebanese election. This is something unprecedented in the Lebanese media during previous elections, although history is not clear on this issue.

This is what is happening during the [electoral] campaign, as for what happens after the elections, that is another matter.