Lebanon: First Threatened Voice

Lebanon has been known and envied in the MENA region for its free cyberspace. Well not anymore since March has marked Lebanon's first cyber censhorship incident.

Lebanese Blogger and Journalist Khodor Salameh(aka Jou3an)

Lebanese Blogger and Journalist Khodor Salameh(aka Jou3an)

On March 15, Lebanese blogger and journalist Khodor Salameh or “jou3an“(Hungry in Arabic) wrote a post[Ar] on his blog where he criticized the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman. A few days later, he was called for an interrogation by the Lebanese security forces, where they threatened him with being prosecuted for defamation if he doesn't change his tone, close the blog or write poetry exclusively.

The Lebanese bloggers were united, despite their opposite political opinions, and showed their support to Khodor -whether they agreed with what he said or not. Here are their reactions below:

Hrammal supported[Ar] Khodor by saying “We are all Khodor”:

هيدا، بس تنقول، انو كلنا خضر سلامة، انو كلنا معك، بمواجه المسخ وأجهزته… كتار نحن، كل الشعب نحن
We just want to say, that we are all Khodor Salameh, that we're all with you against the monster and its systems. And we're plenty..We're the whole people

Mowatin Shahhath(or a beggar citizen) started his post[Ar] by quoting the Lebanese constitution which clearly preserves the right of free speech for Lebanese citizens. He added:

ولعل ما حصل مع الصحافي خضر سلامة مدوّن ( مدونة جوعان) لهو اكبر دليل على انّنا في لبنان لم نصل بعد الى مرحلة احترام المادة 13 من الدستور اللبناني والتي تقضي باحترام حرية التعبير.
Perhaps what happened with blogger and journalist Khodor Salameh proves that we -in Lebanon- haven't reached yet the stage where article #13 of the Lebanese constitution is respected, which stipulates respect for the freedom of speech

Ninar also showed his support in his post[Ar], where he addressed the officials saying:

اعلموا جيداً أن الفضاء الالكتروني اللبناني، وخاصة المدوّنين، لا يمكن تدجينهم ولا تطويعهم ولا تخويفهم، فوفّروا على أنفسكم العناء ووفّروا على أعين مخبريكم مشقّة متابعة عشرات المدوّنات يوماً بيوم، ووفّروا علينا عناء الكتابة عن هذه الطبقة السياسية الفاسدة التي تحمونها، فنحن، حقاً، لدينا أمور أفضل للحديث عنها.
Be aware that the Lebanese cyberspace, especially the blogesphere, can not be tamed or intimidated. So spare yourselves the effort. And spare your detectives following dozens of blogs everyday. And spare us writing about this corrupted political class you protect. We have better stuff to talk about.

Hashemite accused the Lebanese government of being a rotten system. He said[Ar]:

هذا النظام الطائفي “العفن” الذي لا يستطيع أن يحاسب مجرماً ما لأنه محسوب على طائفة، فيلحق المناهضين لعفانته من أمثال الذين لم يجدوا سوى التدوين، فيرهبونهم ويهددونهم. وبسبب ماذا؟!!! بسبب فشة خلق من الواقع المزري الذي وصلنا اليه.
This sectarian and “rotten” system which cannot hold a criminal accountable because they follow its sect, goes after who stood against its corruption with nothing to use but blogging. It threatens and intimidates them, and because of what?!!! Because of a cry out against the miserable state we reached in this country.

Liliane noticed how the date Khodor was interrogated, coincided with the March18 campaign, (which was born after an Iranian blogger “Omid Reza Mir Sayafi” died in prison). She added:

Regardless of whether I agree with the fellow blogger Khodor, all I can say is, I hope what was my pride two weeks ago, remains my pride and doesn't fall into the trap of a mindless, oppressive, unjust and illogical system.

On the other hand, Lebanese blogger Rany disagreed with what Khodor said but still refused the threat. He said in his latest post The lettuce theory“:

Although I actually disagree with the blogger, this way of dealing with him or any other blogger is totally refused and totally useless, and to whoever decided to investigate with the blogger about what he mentioned I would like to say come on grow up, he's just a guy writing on his blog why are you making a fuss out of it? Lots of people agree with him and lots of others disagree that's the reality of Lebanon and you can't change that by making him change his tone.

Blogger and journalist “Hanibaael“, published an official announcement[Ar] on behalf of the Lebanese Bloggers Group supporting Khodor:

بناءً على ما حدث، يرفض تجمّع المدونين في لبنان التعرّض للحريّات العامّة لا سيّما النشر على المواقع الإلكترونيّة، ويعيد التذكير بخطاب قسم رئيس الجمهورية: “فلنتحد ونعمل لبناء الدولة المدنية، القادرة، المرتكزة على احترام الحريات العامة، والمعتقد، والتعبير”. ويدعو التجمّع إلى وقف انتهاكات حق وق الإنسان والحريّات العامة. ونحث المدونين(ات) والناشطين(ات) إلى التضامن ونشر هذا البيان على مدوناتهم ومواقع الجمعيات التي ينتمون إليها. كما ندعو الإعلاميين إلى رفع الصوت عالياً لكي لا يسقط لبنان في الدوامة كم الأصوات الحرة.
Based on what happened, the Lebanese Bloggers Group refuses the suppression of public freedom, especially online publishing, and is reminiscent of the presidential oath: “Let's unite and work to build the civil country which is based on respecting the public freedom, belief and speech”. The assembly also calls upon stopping the violations of human rights and public freedoms. And we urge bloggers and activists to support and publish this announcement on their blogs and their organizations’ websites. We also call upon the media to speak out loud so Lebanon won't fall into the vortex of silencing the free voices.

Layal was disappointed that Lebanon has joined the country list at said:

Lebanon, Welcome to Threatened Voices!

Furthermore, Egyptian blogger Zeinobia was in complete shock when she heard the news. She said:

Is this new Lebanon !!?? Is the “Freedom, sovereignty and independence” new Lebanon !!?? It is a shock , a real shock !!??

Is this the start of cyber censhorship in Lebanon or just a single incident? Follow Lebanon's entry on Threatened Voices to remain updated.


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