Lebanon's Al Jadeed TV shot at amid calls to close station down over skit

Lebanon's Al Jadeed TV shot at amid calls to close station down over skit
A television station in Beirut has come under repeated attack in recent days, a week after a skit caused offence among some south Lebanese.
3 min read
30 December, 2022
Police are investigating the attacks on the Al Jadeed television station [Getty/archive]

A television station in the Lebanese capital was shot at in the early hours of Friday, the third time in four days, as an online campaign has called for its closure over an "offensive" skit.

Heavy gunfire was reportedly heard in the vicinity of Al Jadeed TV offices in Beirut’s Wata Msaitbeh area at around 2 am (12 am GMT). It came after a previous shooting and a failed Molotov attack on the building earlier this week.

No casualties were recorded and the channel said material damage was minimal.

"We have taken measures to carry out more patrols around Al Jadeed TV, but the shooting that happened last night came from the [nearby] Cola intersection," Interior Minister Bassam al-Mawlawi told a press conference.

He said security agencies were investigating the incidents and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The attacks come after a skit on a satire show that caused uproar among people from south Lebanon, sparking calls from the country’s Shia community in particular to shut down Al Jadeed.

In the skit, actress Joana Karaki impersonates a Shia Muslim woman and claims most people in the south have green and blue eyes and blonde hair because of intermarrying with Europeans such as Britons and Italians.

She used a term many people considered vulgar and offensive to women in the south, and critics argued that Karaki was implying something sexual.

Karaki, herself from south Lebanon, said in self-defence that the video was trimmed, and what she was actually saying was southern Lebanese women marry European men, just like Lebanese men marry European women.

She refused to apologise, saying the attacks on her were "tarnishing the image of Shias."

Despite her clarifications, some people insisted that Karaki’s "Batoul" character was purposely targeting Shia women in Lebanon on the show.

More videos from other episodes of the show were shared showing Karaki in positions deemed highly offensive to women who wear the hijab, as she talks about going to nightclubs, beaches, and "making money" amid Lebanon’s dire economic crisis.

While investigations are yet to reveal who has been behind the attacks on Al Jadeed, there is speculation that they could be threats to the TV station carried out by those calling for its closure.

The channel has apologised for any harm it caused with its skit, saying it did not mean to offend anyone, especially "the brave women of southern Lebanon who resisted Israeli occupation."

Several Lebanese officials have condemned the attacks, saying freedom of speech was a constitutional right and "sacred" in Lebanon, refusing calls to silence the channel over a comedy show.

Al Jadeed has previously been subject to campaigns by Shia supporters of the Hezbollah and Amal Movement parties and militias over political stances taken by the channel, and satellite providers have previously blocked it in mainly-Shia regions.