Freedom of speech is one thing but incitement to murder is another. A large divide separates the two.
While Lebanon–home to a significant number of media outlets considering its relatively small population– is a strong advocate of freedom of speech, journalists shouldn’t exploit the right to free expression to incite violence or murder.
Threats of violence against the public, writers, politicians, MPs, ministers and last of all the president can under no circumstances be mistaken for freedom of expression and violence advocates should be penalized under the law.
While I value freedom which the Lebanese have paid for in blood throughout the years, I also attach great importance to the authority of the state and oppose any attempts to undermine its clout by insulting its head.
Today, the Lebanese stand at a crossroads and must choose between two paths: One that leads to the promotion of a sovereign and democratic state where citizens abide by the law and another that leads to the collapse of state institutions.
In the absence of the rule law, there will be no room for freedom of expression. For this very same reason, I voice my strong support for President Michel who is defending state institutions and the rule of law against advocates of militias and assassins.
In this case, rather than express my solidarity with Mr Ibrahim Al-Amin, I ought to express my sympathy to those who have been subject to his verbal abuse.
I also salute Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi for his courageous decision to refer Ibrahim al-Amin’s article to the state prosecution, a decision that should be followed by the referral of all his other fabricated articles to the judiciary.
This said, I join hands with all journalists and intellectuals who defended freedom of expression against the misdeeds of Ibrahim Al-Amin.