Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

This is the True Shame, Mr. President | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Elaph news website carried a report that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman telephoned Lebanese Culture Minister Tarek Mitri to tell him that he was upset about what he had said about him to the “Ahdam Shi” [Digest Something] program on Lebanon’s MTV, which is known for its satire and comedy.

The Lebanese President observed that he and his wife had received dozens of calls from different figures calling for them to take action and put an end to what had been described as “media transgressions” which is something that reflects negatively on the image of Lebanon.

I did not watch the television show that angered President Suleiman, his wife and other Lebanese figures. However, a friend of mine sent me an e-mail with clips from this television program, and from what I saw this is not a program that is suitable for family viewing.

It is the right – in fact it is the duty – of the president, any president, to ensure that society follows general social values that are agreed upon as a common basis for proper conduct, and protect the public from transgressions.

One can only wonder whether such “transgressions” are limited exclusively to smutty jokes on a television program, or whether this can be seen elsewhere?

I am talking about Lebanon in particular. Since the news item already concerns Lebanon, let me ask, what is a greater transgression, is it a so-called entertainment program’s crude content, or is it the state of Lebanon being openly threatened by a group that is brandishing a dagger in the name of [religious] holiness and forcing the country through a maze of dark alleys in defiance of the entire population of Lebanon? Isn’t this something that goes far more beyond the bounds of decency than any television program?

What is truly obscene is to see an MP or politician threatening doom and destruction and a fate a thousands times worse than 7 May [2008] – which saw Hezbollah take over Beirut – if they do not get their way, threatening to “cut off the hand” of anybody who dares to question or arrest any member of Hezbollah. Or else they say that the people of Lebanon should fear the legions of neo-Salafists who live in northern Lebanon and who follow Al Qaeda, and who will attack the Shiites in Lebanon in the same manner that al-Zarqawi attacked Iraq’s Shiites.

Protecting public morality is both good and necessary; however morals and public taste are not just confined to what is shown on television. Regardless of media transgressions in this regard, intrinsic family values and parents being concerned with raising their children in a proper manner will protect these children from any kind of media corruption without the need for state intervention.

This issue is not a crucial one. The greatest problem of all is that there is nobody to protect the state of Lebanon, its virtue, and its people, from harassment and transgressions. Such transgressions prevent unity and ensure that everybody remains weak and powerless; unfortunately those responsible for these transgressions are our own people!

This is the true shame, Mr. President!