Friday, June 02, 2006
I Dream of an Arab Jon Stewart!
Thousands of Lebanese demonstrated violently in Lebanon, burning cars and building barricades, to protest a satirical comedy show that made fun of Hizbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah. (in Arabic)
The thuggery worked. There was a profusion of apologies from the makers of the show and others.
It's worth noting that the satire was not of Prophet Mohammad or Jesus Christ. It was not a satire of Allah or God. It was a satire of a political leader.
I'm aware of LBC's political affiliations. It's not a friend of Hizbollah. But this is irrelevant. Freedom of speech and opinion to be meaningful has to allow for the opinion of the "other"--i.e. the one we don't agree with.
This event shows how satirical comedy can hardly exist in the Arab world. It needs a big margin of freedom and political tolerance. There is the Syrian Dureid Lahham, who did not mock individuals and therefore staid safe. There is/was the Lebanese Ziad al Rahbani. I wonder if he would get away with mocking Nasrallah.
Nasrallah's supporters have every right to protest the portrayal of their leader. They can make their own comdey and counter that way. But thuggery seems to be the most favorite mode of operation. Why not? It works.