'Too soon': Saudi streaming platform Shahid faces backlash over drama series about Beirut explosion

'Too soon': Saudi streaming platform Shahid faces backlash over drama series about Beirut explosion
Lebanese social media users accused MBC-owned Shahid of attempting to profit off the Beirut port explosion tragedy, saying the series is 'too soon'.
2 min read
13 October, 2020
Beirut 6:07 is an upcoming drama series about the August 4 blast [Screengrab]
Saudi entertainment platform Shahid came under fire on Lebanese social media on Tuesday after releasing the trailer for an upcoming drama series about the 4 August Port of Beirut blast.

Shahid, owned by satellite broadcasting giant MBC Group, said the series includes 15 short films about the Beirut port explosion "highlighting stories of victims as well as survivors".

Named after the exact hour of the catastrophic explosion that killed over 200 people and injured 6,000 more, "Beirut 6:07" angered Lebanese Twitter users who called the series "insensitive".

Clips of the trailer showed dramatic scenes of people running in panic after the blast, followed by a series of questions including "where were you?"

The text and scenes were described by many Lebanese who experienced the explosion as "triggering". 

"Our traumas and tragedies aren't yours to profit off of, our mothers are still mourning, some victims are still lost and here you are trying to capitalize on a ... catastrophe," Emilio Wehbe wrote to the platform in a public tweet.

Shahid responded to the tweet and later removed its controversial trailer from the social media platform.

"We understand you and we hear you clearly. We want to reassure you that this project was made to shed light on the tragic event that happened to our beloved city Beirut and to Lebanon," Shahid wrote in response. 

"This is meant for the world to hear the stories of those who lost so much and were affected by this tragedy. We heal with art and this is what's intended," the statement added, prompting calls from critics to donate the proceeds from the show.

Lebanese families are still struggling to rebuild their homes and lives in the wake of explosion that destroyed entire neighbourhoods of the capital. 

Last week, families of blast victims held a commemoration ceremony to mark the two month anniversary of the deadly event and expressed anger at authorities' continued failure to reveal the circumstances of the blast and how it came to happen.

Without yet having closure, many affected by the blast said it was "too soon" to release such a series. 

"Surely people need to be reminded of their traumas not even 3 months later... just in case they forgot," one person wrote ironically.

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