Beirut newspaper’s offices raided over cartoon

 
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Cartoon by cartoonist Amjad Rasmi

Translation.
Above: “April Fools’ Day” On the tree: “State of Lebanon

This cartoon by the London-based Jordanian cartoonist, Amjad Rasmipublished on Friday 1 April, was the motive for the raid on the offices of the Arabic daily in Beirut Asharq Al-Awsat in Beirut. The event forced the removal of the image from its website.

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About 15 people stormed the newspaper’s headquarters, upset by the publication of the cartoon that ironically depicted Lebanon as a failed state, ransacked the offices, and threatened the workers.

The protesters, led by well-known activists Pierre al-Hashash and Abbas Zahri, posted pictures of the incident on their Facebook page.

The National News Agency (ANN) claims that the demonstrators also included civil society activists such as Hassan Qteish, Bilal Allaw, Mohammed Hirz and a member of the Zeineddine family, who works as a cameraman for the private television station al-Jadeed.

Security forces arrived on the scene shortly afterwards. They heard the testimonies of three employees who were in the newspaper’s offices at the time of the assault. They were on the 11th floor of the Burj al-Ghazal tower in central Beirut.

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According to (ANN):

“Investigators took photographs of the damage to inform the Beirut prosecutor’s office. The rioters will be arrested and prosecuted at the request of the judiciary”. Source Naharnet.

Reactions

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The collective Jordanian Cartoonists Association collective issued on 4 April a rare statement condemning the violence and supporting Amjad Rasmi. Source: Oum Cartoon

The Jordanian Cartoonists Association is following with interest the serious events related to the cartoon of fellow cartoonist Amjad Rasmi in the newspaper Al-Al-Awsat Shraq, provoked by its interpretation.

The Jordanian Cartoonists Association would like to express for the first time its deep respect and appreciation for Lebanon. And what this Arab country represents for its cultural role.

We would also like to reaffirm the importance of respecting and defending freedom of expression. As well as the right to disagree using civilised means. We emphasise the right of the cartoonist to raise the issues he/she wishes without fear of reprisal. Full statement.

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On 7 April, Salman Aldosary, editor-in-chief of al-Jadeed, defended the author and rejected the allegation Asharq Al-Awsat defended the author and rejected the violence of the demonstrators, recalling that anyone could have used their right of reply and would have been given space on its pages to do so.

He also reminded that the opinions expressed in cartoons or opinion pieces are not always a reflection of the newspapers’ positions. See full opinion.

Regardless of Asharq Al-Awsat’s editorial family’s opinion regarding the cartoon- which is a comic drawing tackling the political situation Lebanon is experiencing without a president, a legislative authority and almost without an executive authority- one should lay emphasis on firm professionalism.

Cartoons, just like written articles, are used around the world by all media outlets. Both solely reflect their creators’ opinions and not the newspapers’.

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Cartoonist Amjad Rasmi Issa was born in Amman (Jordan) in 1974, where he studied at the Institute of Fine Arts, is a member of the Jordanian Fine Arts Association and secretary of the Association of Cartoonists in Jordan. He works full time for the international Arabic newspaper for the Middle East “Asharq Al-Awsat”, based in London.
He won the Arab Journalism Award in the cartoon category in 2007 and was a jury member in 2012.

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Opinion: Better be an April Fools’ joke for a day..

Related, 60 cases in other countries.

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