Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Debate on Syrian crisis leads to on-air fight | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – On Tuesday, a political debate on the Syrian crisis between Lebanese journalist Joseph Abou Fadel, who is close to the March 8 movement and the Syrian regime, and Syrian opposition journalist Dr. Muhydin Lazikani, erupted into a physical confrontation live on air. This occurred during the live broadcast of the “Opposition Direction” talk show on Al Jazeera, hosted by Faisal al-Qassem.

The scene saw raised voices and explicit insults being traded between the two journalists, before a physical confrontation broke out between the two guests in a scene reminiscent of the confrontation that occurred live on air between leader of the Lebanese branch of the Baathist party, Fayez Shukor, and Future Movement MP Mustafa Alloush, also over the Syrian file.

As for the details of the confrontation that occurred on Tuesday between Joseph Abou Fadel and Dr. Muhydin Lazikani during the live broadcast of “Opposition Direction” hosted by Faisal al-Qassem, this was over Abou Fadel’s criticism of the Arab states, and particularly Qatar, for their stance towards the al-Assad regime. Abou Fadel accused the Arab states of conspiring against Syria, which led to the Syrian opposition journalist to ask him “why are you now criticizing the Arabs? Didn’t you personally raise a banner thanking Qatar?” Abou Fadel appeared incensed by this accusation, telling Lazikani to “shut up” and threatening to attack him. Host Faisal al-Qassem implored Abou Fadel to calm down; however it was as if the pro-Syrian journalist had completely lost his senses. Abou Fadel stood up and physically confronted the Syrian opposition journalist, forcing al-Qassem to attempt to physically restrain the two men as the fight moved off camera.

This scene occurred just a few months after a similar confrontation also occurred live on air on Arab television over the Syria file. In mid-November, during the live broadcast of the “With Objectivity” talk show on Lebanese satellite channel MTV hosted by Walid Abboud. This saw Future Movement MP Mustafa Alloush and Lebanese Baathist leader Fayez Shukor exchange heated comments and physically confront one another live on air.

The confrontation began after the Future Movement MP said that he did not believe Bashar al-Assad. Shukor responded by asking Alloush, “who are you not to believe him [al-Assad]?” adding “shame on you”. This comment seemed to rouse the anger of the Future Movement MP who told Shukor, “shame on you for telling me shame on myself” adding “I don’t believe him [al-Assad] because he is a liar.” This served to intensify the heated mood in the studio, with the Baathist leader responding “you are the liar, and your boss is a liar” adding “shame on you” once more. This heated exchange ended in the two Lebanese politicians exchanging explicit insults, and Shukor throwing a glass of water at Alloush before rushing around the desk to physically confront him. Alloush picked up his chair and attempted to throw it at the oncoming Skukor before being restrained by host Walid Abboud. The broadcast of “With Objectivity” then cut to a long ad break, with Abboud returning to apologize to viewers before talking with each guest for a short time, although this time individually.

On Wednesday Dr. Muhydin Lazikani gave an interview to al-Arabiya revealing that the confrontation continued for several minutes off-camera and that pro-Syrian journalist Joseph Abou Fadel had threatened to kill him. Lazikani said that Abou Fadel “continued to curse and attack me in the studio. The presenter tried to separate us but failed” adding “he [Lazikani] screamed – I want to kill you”. He revealed that the confrontation finally ended when the camera-men intervened to separate the two guests.

Dr. Lazikani also stressed that he did not insult Abou Fadel, adding “I did not go down to his level, in the same way as the blessed revolution in Syria, which is refusing to carry out the same practices that the al-Assad regime are carrying out against it.”