BEIRUT (AP) – Lebanese journalists are facing threats and wide-ranging harassment in their work – including verbal insults and physical attacks, even death threats – while reporting on nearly 50 days of anti-government protests, despite Lebanon’s reputation as a haven for free speech in a troubled region.
Nationwide demonstrations erupted on October 17 over a plunging economy. They quickly grew into calls for sweeping aside Lebanon’s entire ruling elite. Local media outlets – some of which represent the sectarian interests protesters are looking to overthrow – are now largely seen as pro- or anti-protests, with some journalists feeling pressured to leave their workplaces over disagreements about media coverage.
The deteriorating situation for journalists in Lebanon comes despite its decades-old reputation for being an island of free press in the Arab world.