Antelias, November 3rd, 2000
After that the World Forum of Professionals in the Secular and Religious Media constituted a media observer which aims to convey mass medias and publicists in Lebanon in order to guarantee the freedom of media and the freedom of expressing the opinion, and in the context of following the events, it gave the following remarks:
1. The Forum appreciated the word of the new minister of Information Ghazi Al Aridi during the ceremony of taking office at the ministry of Information on Monday October 30th, 2000. This word included goals and principles such as “hanging on to… the ministry of Information remains a true ministry of freedoms, and Lebanon remains the nation of freedom, nation of democracy and nation of dialogue”. The Forum noticed that today we need to realize these goals which always characterized the Lebanese regime, and which became threaten of disappearing. It expressed its trust for the road the minister Al Aridi drew, hoping that circumstances help him to achieve his aspirations. The Forum indicated to the minister that the official media today needs a real development for not remaining the media of officials and men of State, whereas it is requested that media be transformed to a media for the civil society in order to express the aspiration of the public opinion in its all trends. The tradition of this media in transmitting long speeches of ministers and officials – as it happened on the day of taking the minister Al Aridi office – in controlling programs and repulsing reporters – as it happened with the reporter Joseph Issawi – are practices inherited from totalitarian regimes defected to Lebanon. The Forum, wishing the success to the minister of Information in his position, hopes an imminent step in this sector for dispensing of this ministry at the end as it is the case in high democratic countries.
2. The Forum discussed some political practices transmitted by mass medias, which included a deterioration of moral behavior, such as the behavior of certain bodyguards of convoys and figures, or the designation on official positions of suspect persons and persons demanded before the Court. Such practices make citizens doubt in trustees on public affair, especially the necessary responsibility of those is banished, values of good and bad are confused, and the society becomes impossible to differentiate between valid and vicious. Thus, the presence of an independent and activated Court is necessary since that judiciary power becomes able to practice its authorities in total independence from legislative and executive powers. It condemns who is mistaken, finds innocent who is untruthfully condemned, and gives back the trust of citizens in institutions.
3. The forum denounced the continuity of attack against Lebanese youths by pursuiting and retaining them at the hands of intelligent services in order to prevent them from expressing their principles and convictions. These practices threaten the basises of liberal Lebanese regime and attack the simplest human rights which represent its fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of opinion, the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly. They contradict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with the principles of the Lebanese Constitution. The item nineteen of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulated the following: “everyone has the right to freedom of expression and opinion; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. The Forum sees that shutting down or arresting youths does not resolve the problem, on the contrary, it aggravates it via enlarging the gap between the people and the regime. The Forum hopes that the new government acts to put an end to these methods and open a real dialogue with different parts of the people. In this frame, the “call of the Patriarchs” launched by the Assembly of Maronite Bishoprics regarding the stable and just relationship between Lebanon and Syria remains the foundation stone of any national dialogue which is setting up a true conciliation, and for establishing right relations with Syria.
4. The Forum wished that mass medias, mainly television channels, avoid provoking confessional feud, and do not issue arbitrary judgments which are supposed to reflect negatively our society. This is what happened last week in the show “an opened discussion” on the Future television with the colleague Zaven Kyoumijian discussing demons and spirits, and transgressing the dignity of the Christian religion. The televised transmitter has generally a public and instinctive effect on the contrary of written press which is directed to an educated part and leaves a large space for rationalism.
5. The Forum conveyed the conference of the Union of Arab reporters held at Aman last week. It saluted its decisions, especially the support of the Intifada of the Palestinian people. It also paused over the reelection of the President of syndicate, Melhim Karam as vice – president of the Union, and the journalist Elias Aoun as secretary of Freedom committee. The Forum wished the courage openness of media values in Arab press for it not remains a regime press but assumes its original role, that is developing the Arab society toward an addition of freedoms and interaction with Arab people and its issues, and regaining the suitable position of the Arab civilization in the cadre of the worldwide human civilization.
Translated by: Joyce Tary