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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Hezbollah pretends to support free speech

From The Daily Star Lebanon:
Google and Apple’s online stores have stopped offering the Web application for Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television station.

The applications, which allow users to live stream the Al-Manar channel, were removed from the Google Play and iTunes Web stores, technology news website C-Net first reported late Tuesday. iTunes removed the application over the weekend with Google Play following suit two days later.

Al-Manar is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States government for its ties to Hezbollah, which the U.S. also considers a terrorist group. Associating with either organization is cause for denial of entry to the United States, and financial support for Hezbollah can lead to criminal prosecution.

The U.S. first banned Al-Manar in 2004 for its “terrorism” ties. France banned the channel the same year for anti-Semitic speech.
Al Manar's response is priceless:


Anchor: Let's begin with the Israeli incitement against Al-Manar TV, which led to the removal of Al-Manar mobile apps by Apple and Google. Al-Manar TV emphasized that its news services would reach its viewers through other means.

The relevant unions and institutions in Lebanon condemned the immoral decision against Al-Manar.

Reporter: Al-Manar TV is once again targeted by America and Israel. The removal of the channel's mobile apps from the Google and Apple stores is a new attempt to curb Al-Manar's message of resistance.

[...]

Al-Manar TV Director-General Abdallah Qasir: This indicates that Al-Manar TV has the ability to cause great harm to Israel, and that Israel is extremely annoyed by Al-Manar becoming so widespread and by its great credibility. Israel cannot even bear to see the Al-Manar icon on smartphones.

Abd Al-Hadi Mahfouz, president of the Lebanese National Media Council: This move contradicts all laws pertaining to radio and television, to the exercising of media liberties, and to the right of citizens, Western and Arab alike, to information.

[...]

Abdallah Qasir: For whoever wants to download a new [app] icon, we will find new ways to allow the viewer to download this service, even if the [media] companies prevent this.

Abd Al-Hadi Mahfouz: The assault on Al-Manar TV constitutes an assault on Lebanese sovereignty. The Lebanese state, the Lebanese government, must take action.

Reporter: The head of the Lebanese IT Association, Rabi' Al-Ba'lbaki, warned against such measures against the Lebanese media. In a phone call with Al-Manar TV, he called to boycott the two companies, if they do not restore the service.
While the Hezbollah/Al Manar spokesman brags about how Al Manar is a "resistance" (i.e., terrorist) channel, the Lebanese media head talks about free speech.

Hezbollah does not have the best record on free speech - threatening reporters and barring them from places they don't want the media to see -  but I haven't heard anything from Mr. Mahfouz about that.

And you have got to love the head of the Lebanese IT association calling to boycott Apple and Google. I'm sure they are mighty frightened.