Denouncing justice is political suicide
Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who recently turned into an ally of Hizbollah, expressed his concern regarding the indictment expected to be issued by the Special International Tribunal, especially if the indictment were to name Hizbollah, wrote Tareq Homayed, editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.
Mr Jumblat went further to call on the prime minister Saad Hariri to denounce the tribunal in order to prevent sectarian confrontations.
"Rafiq Hariri was never a militia leader, but a statesman. For this reason, he deserves justice." Hizbollah never feared sedition in the country and Mr Jumblatt's support of Iran's project in the region is the incarnation of sedition.
To ask Mr Hariri to discredit the tribunal, especially in the wake of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Beirut, is nothing short of political suicide and a total annihilation of late Rafiq Hariri's project of building a powerful state.
In case Saad Hariri is pressured into undermining the tribunal's credibility, he had better resign from office and leave others to cripple the tribunal and face those Lebanese that view it as their only saviour from assassinations and abuse of power.
Mr Hariri has to realise that no amount of concessions could save him, as the issue isn't personal. The target is his and his father's project of building a better future for Lebanon.
Religious channels need long-term policy
In an opinion article for the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, columnist Daoud al Sharyan commented on Egypt's Nilesat's recent decision to shut down a number of religious channels.
As a reason for their decision, Nilesat stated that these channels are inciting religious hatred and sectarian sedition.
"Religious satellite channels are exercising a sort of media order that doesn't serve Islam and paves the way for religious wars in the region. However, some Arab countries still hesitate to investigate this phenomenon out of fear of being accused of fighting Islam."
These channels have become means of incitement against religion. They have separated Muslims and created a false "televised Islam" that consecrates the politicisation of religion.
Confusing religious matters with political interests is a grave matter. This doesn't necessarily mean that these channels are void of useful programmes and honest advocates. But the problem is with stakeholders who have been using Islam as a fast track for stardom and profit. The solution for this issue needs a long-term, well-crafted plan. Shutting these channels down doesn't solve the problem as it contradicts the principle of freedom of expression and would consequently turn the religious figures into martyrs.
Religious channels have become a fact. A reasonable alternative must be found.
The UAE needs a new cinematic institution
In a commentary article for the UAE daily Al Bayan, Murei al Halyan described the Abu Dhabi Film Festival as a tool of "acculturation", one that promotes cross-cultural dialogue, and brings divergent views closer.
"It is one of the most important cinematographic events in the region, which opens a wide arena for human creativity to artistically shed light on humanitarian concerns."
The festival is also an occasion for local filmmakers to showcase their works and discuss their related themes, which will likely promote a local and dynamic cinemagraphic culture.
At present, however, most films on show in the UAE are imported, a situation that should be addressed in order to lay the foundation of a real national film industry. So far, dozens of films have been made, yet they remain below recognised standards. This is because the subsidies that young directors obtain are not enough to meet the requirements of a good production.
"Most filmmakers today cannot afford the price of a movie camera, or pay for the expenses related to film development. Nor can they hire the most talented actors from the GCC region."
While there are many ambitious amateurs who wish to aesthetically translate their ideas into films, there is, unfortunately, no cinematic institution that can sponsor them.
US envoy issues an ultimatum to Syria
Western sources in Paris reported that the White House sent its special Middle East envoy's assistant, Frederick Hof, to Damascus to deliver a clear message to the president Bashar Assad, prior to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Beirut, reported the columnist Hiyam Kossayfi in an article for the Lebanese daily Annahar.
According to these sources, Washington warned Damascus of any attempt to topple the balance of power in Lebanon. The message stressed that Damascus will be held accountable for any such action whether perpetrated by Syria's allies or Hizbollah.
Syria's response was twofold. A direct reply to the US envoy affirmed that Syria doesn't control every aspect of Hizbollah's movements. A second response came in Mr Assad's recent delicate discourse at a press conference where he said that Lebanon's divisions are not new and this affects its relationships with other countries, especially Syria.
Syria seems to be trying to shift the blame of any tensions that Lebanon might suffer following the awaited indictment by the special international tribunal. It indicates that the Syrian attitude is the outcome of a growing feeling that the tribunal might indict Damascus as well as Hizbollah and that all the assurances it has received are gone.
* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem
Published: October 18, 2010 04:00 AM