Asharq Al-Awsat Beirut office ransacked after April Fools 'joke'

Asharq Al-Awsat Beirut office ransacked after April Fools 'joke'
Saudi-owned daily denies trying to offend Lebanese people after protesters storm its Beirut office.
2 min read
02 April, 2016
The April Fools' 'joke' was not received too well in Lebanon [AFP]

The Beirut office of Asharq Al-Awsat has been attacked by protesters after the Saudi-owned daily published an April fools' "joke" about Lebanon in its Friday edition.

Images that have emerged show chairs upturned and documents scattered across the office's floor and lobby area.

The newspaper's website later published an article that declared in its title, "Asharq Al-Awsat Assures to Resume Work Normally Despite the Attacks on its Beirut-Based Office."

It condemned the attack and called upon the Lebanese government to "take responsibility for the safety of all its employees".

Friday's edition of Asharq Al-Awsat, which depicted a caricature of the Lebanese flag and read,"April fools... The Lebanese state", drew criticism from many figures within the country.
The April Fools' 'joke' that caused quite a storm

As it vowed to continue its operations, Asharq Al-Awsat also said that it "rejects the clamour about the caricature that was published in today's issued edition (Friday), which was misinterpreted by some people".

The newspaper also claimed that it "further emphasises on its respect for Lebanon," adding that the "caricature aimed to shine the spotlight on the current Lebanese government".

Tensions between Riyadh and Beirut have recently been running high over the influence of the Iranian-backed Hizballah movement in Lebanon and Syria.

On the same day as the Asharq Al-Awsat caricature was published, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya shut its Beirut office. Lebanon's Information Minister later stated that there may have been "political reasons" behind the news channel's decision.