Few days before the first anniversary of the assassination of the Late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese media, Arab and international satellite channels and Arab journals had already began presenting programs affiliated and dedicating numerous articles to the event. This concern in covering Hariri’s anniversary is a reflection of the eminence of the incident in Lebanon during the past year and this actually contradicts with the actual presence of Lebanon within the political milieu, as Lebanon had always been a recipient of events rather than a producer of events.
Since 14 February 2005, Lebanon has continuously featured in Arab and western media. The progress of events had been forceful and had provided media with a huge amount of related political events covered frequently in Arab media.
The assassination of Hariri was a huge crime the events that followed were reflections of the major event itself.
Before such events in Lebanon, Western media had always considered Lebanon a party in the Arab-Israeli conflict and Hezbollah had been the focal point of media coverage. As for Beirut, it had always been a strong example of the brutality of civil war. Such an outlook of Lebanon had represented quite a natural persistence of western concerns over of issues affiliated with Israel, the extremism of some Muslim factions and wars of Afghanistan and Iraq.
After the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon now had its place in Lebanese media, especially following the images of Lebanese demonstrations that had occupied our screens and succeeded in gaining the biggest audience rating in the west. Lebanese media had covered this event like no other including the Lebanese civil war. Images of the Lebanese public filling the streets and calling for freedom and independence which were presented live over numerous international channels, seemed less violent then images transmitted from the occupied Palestinian territories and Iraq. The contradiction between a new generation of girls in Lebanon and other conventional images of traditional protestors had captivated numerous camera lenses. Western media celebrated Lebanon’s struggle for independence and dealt with Lebanon as a victim that has deeply resisted all forms of external dominance and coercion. Furthermore, images of bombings and assassinations had endorsed the description of Lebanon as a targeted country.
Without ignoring the role of politicizing events, we can depict other images of the region that were clarified by the Lebanese images. Such images were of a set of events that had never been familiar to the region. The Ukrainian event was close in timing, and so we witnessed a similarity between the Lebanese events and that of the Orange revolution in Ukraine. Despite the many political relapses that took place, the severity of some scenes are well engraved them in our minds.
Nevertheless, days before Lebanon had revived the major crime of Hariri’s assassination, screens had filled western media with live scenes of a demonstration in Ashrafiah that had primarily sought to protest the blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Strangely enough however, the demonstration that aimed to defend a noble cause transformed into riots that had damaging cars, houses, and churches and shouting slogans that could have erupted into civil turmoil in the country.
The events of the Ashrafiah demonstration had almost aborted the Lebanese event that had been gaining support in western media over the past year. If we give in to our pessimism, we might even say that scenes of Ashrafiah demonstration showed the true face of Lebanon that we are children of this region but contradict what culture teaches us.