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Remembering April - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Former head of the Lebanese security forces, Assaad Al-Shaftari has supported the shift that has taken place since 2000. On the 31st anniversary of the Lebanese war, Al-Shaftari appeared on television screens in front of the Lebanese and Arab public once again admitting his accountability of the violations that had taken place during the Lebanese war, and apologized to those he had wronged during the crisis.

Ever since Al-Shaftari first apologized six years ago for his actions during the war and since the interviews in which he disclosed the details of his role during this period, it would seem that he has embarked on a path of repentance. However, the Lebanese media did not welcome this initiative, with some interpreting his confessions as either a condemnation of the ‘Christian’ side or an expression in favor of the ‘Muslim’ side. Nevertheless, the truth remains that neither side of the Lebanese war has dared to admit their roles or actions in the war as Al-Shaftari has done.

The world has experienced a number of civil wars, and numerous societies have suffered in their attempts to cure their people from this experience whether victims or criminals. These attempts were clear through the confessions and apologies of a number of perpetrators. This step had been considered part of the long journey that victims and criminals must embark on to heal the wounds of war that remain in the hearts of so many. Media has been used for this societal therapy as a number of leaders of civil wars, for example in South Africa, found that revealing the details of the battles may help them.

Morocco, which has been spared the atrocities of civil war, survived an entire era of violent and coercive practices by the hands of the Moroccan government against oppositionists. Recently, a number of figures of the Moroccan government and under the supervision of the Moroccan King, Mohamed VI, confessed and asked for forgiveness from their victims.

In our Arab region, civil wars in Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen had erupted whilst in Iraq the country is still suffering from internal strife. Discussion on war requires that those who initiated and took part in it have the courage to tell their stories. It further requires the media to welcome such endeavors with transparency and boldness without falling for political and religious traps.

Al-Shaftari’s genuine initiative in admitting his mistakes shows that he has been persistent throughout the past six years to tell the Lebanese people what they did not know. The fact that Al-Shaftari was subjected to threats and that many political and media figures sought to exploit his confessions to serve the interests of some parties should be taken into consideration.

For the 31st year now, the Lebanese remember April 13 when the Lebanese war erupted, however, without knowing the complete truth about what had actually taken place.

On the television screens, Assaad Al Shaftari had once again expressed regret and told his story. Nevertheless, until now, the leaders of the Lebanese war and those who took part have not made any similar endeavor. As for the media, it has not made the most of such a sincere initiative.

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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