Lebanon's netizens found themselves having to defend Jackie Chamoun, Lebanon's Alpine Skier representative at the Soshi Olympics, after pictures of a past photoshoot in which she posed topless were released online.
The scandal erupted after a video of her photoshoot was released on Al Jadeed TV and escalated when Caretaker Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karam demanded an official investigation into her case.
This resulted in an overwhelming wave of support from Lebanon's netizens.
Blogger Abir Ghattas mocked the minister by suggesting he should sort out his priorities:
The minister is scared on the reputation of Lebanon, you know, Lebanon the country where:
Men beat their wives to death (and walk free)
Armed Militia roam the roads killing on identity
Tripoli is a live version of Red Alert meets Counter Strike
Ministers, and Deputies, spend years in power with no work done
Corruption is the daily bread of every official
Kids die on hospital doors
Artist’s work is censored
Al Assir appears on Prime Time TV and his hateful speeches are broadcasted live
Freedom of speech is an illusion
Ministry of tourism ads are borderline erotic
Jackie’s boobs are the national security risk, the bad image of the country and the blow that will break Lebanon’s back, Out-fucking-rageous!
She then went on to say:
“The scandal is not the topless photos of Jackie Chamoun, the real scandal is the low media standards, the patriarchal dinosaur-ish mentality, and sick moral compass that makes a photo that partially show some boobs a threat on Lebanon amazing image!”
Gino Raidy from Gino's Blog took a more aggressive approach:
The horribly backwards reaction to the surfacing of these old photos, makes you all look like savage brutes living in some theocracy in the mountains between Pakistan or Afghanistan, or in Iran, or Saudi. You are in fucking Beirut, the city that placed ads in Playboy Magazine in the 60s, and had its own red light district back in the day. Today, in 2014, you want to turn it into some religious theocracy that’s afraid of sex and hates women unless they’re 72 virgins you get for blowing your stupid self up? Or some savage tribe that still believes women are property and carry “the honor” of the family or whatever it is you call what you congregate yourself in?
Elie Fares from A Separate State of Mind points out the difference in reactions between Beirut and the rest of Lebanon:
When it comes to sex, we have a long way to go. Perhaps things are slowly changing. But there’s more to Lebanon than Beirut and its surroundings.
And he, too, points out that we should sort our priorities:
I can think of so many things that warrant are true scandals about this country, that warrant a discussion much, much more than Jackie Chamoun’s breasts. At the top of my head, I can think of the several explosions that have taken place within the past couple of months alone and the fact that they’ve become second nature to life in this place. I can think of a TV station that figured instagramming the body parts of a suicide bomber was a good idea. I can think of the fact that we haven’t had a decently functioning government for the past year and nor will we have one for the next year, it seems. I can think of the fact that presidential elections are literally in 3 months but we’re still waiting for the savior president’s name to be “inspired” by neighboring countries. I can think of the fact that going to a mall requires you to go through more checkpoint than an airport’s border control. I can even think of the graffiti artist that was arrested only two days ago by some unknown party’s henchmen because of him being at the “wrong” place. I can even think of the many pictures of the living conditions of some Lebanese in the North that should be scandalous.
Tarek Joseph Chemaly from Beirut NTSC reminded us of how Lebanon's own ministry of tourism put an ad in a 1971 issue of PlayBoy featuring Lebanese Miss Universe Georgina Rizk:
“Lebanese Ministry of Tourism uses public funds to put a scantily clad lady in Playboy Magazine to advertise the country at large. Don't believe me? Well, “Meet Lebanon“
Writing on my own blog, Hummus For Thought, I pointed out how the very man who is criticizing Jackie Chamoun blocked a law that would protect women from domestic violence.
“Caretaker” Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami thinks it’s more damaging to Lebanon’s reputation that one of our best athletes, Jackie Chamoun, participated in a photoshoot where she showed as much skin – less, actually – as what we find in every lingerie shop and in every night club rather than his own refusal to sign a law protecting women from domestic violence?
Beirut.com blogger Omar Al Fil listed his top 10 favorite responses to the scandal, among which are:
It's hard to believe some people have more of a problem with a skier who posed for photos than the violence killing #Lebanon #JackieChamoun
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) February 11, 2014
Al Jadeed Breaking News: Woman has breasts and is choosing to do with them as she pleases, you know, because she is free and whatnot.
— Nasri Atallah (@NasriAtallah) February 11, 2014
There're actually nitwits in Lebanon concerned a naked woman is bad publicity for the place? HAVE YOU WATCHED THE NEWS IN THE PAST 40 YEARS
— Joumana Medlej (@joumajnouna) February 11, 2014
Nonetheless, Jackie Chamoun apologized on her Facebook page for offending her more conservative supporters. And her apology was met by thousands of people telling her that she has nothing to apologize for. Echoing their sentiments, Najib from Blog Baladi wrote:
You don’t need to apologize for anyone. We love you and wish you the best of luck in your upcoming races!
And as usual, there was bound to be a Tumblr somewhere responding to a “scandal”.
I loved this article. Thanks for pointing it out. Best luck for Jackie in the Olympics
Thank you for your kind words.