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Media Outlets Falsely Report Lebanese Journalist Was Attacked During Protests

Earlier this week, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation reported that journalist Nada Andraos Aziz was attacked by protesters in Beirut. She later said the protesters were protecting her.
photo via getty

On August 24, several news outlets reported that Nada Andraos Aziz, a journalist for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBCI), had been "attacked" by protestors while covering the ongoing protests in Riad al-Solh Square, Beirut. The reports claim that Aziz was subject to violence at the hands of protestors while reporting on the escalating protests, as video footage uploaded by the LBCI sensationally labeled the footage as an attack.


A video posted online by the LBCI depicts Aziz describing the scene while water cannons are fired at protestors. Shortly after, riot police are seen attacking protestors with batons, with their shields at the ready. Aziz is not visible, but her screams are audible. We later see that protestors are in fact forming a human shield circle around Aziz to protect her from the excessive force and violence used by the Lebanese police. Even on the LBCI's YouTube page, the video is titled "LBCI workers were not spared from being attacked."

In an interview with the Global Post however, Aziz disputed the claims, stating that the allegations that she was attacked were not only erroneous, but unrepresentative of the Lebanese spirit: "[The protesters] were trying to protect me… my colleague tried to protect me. We are like that in Lebanon; we stick together."

Acrimonious protesters had gathered in Lebanon's capital city to express anger at the privately-owned, overflowing landfill in the nearby town of Naameh. The Lebanese government recently planned to build an additional landfill in the district of Akkar, prompting the hashtag طلعت_ريحتك #, or #YouStink. The Naameh landfill was initially designed, in 1997, to be an expedient measure for disposing 2 million tons of garbage—a response to Lebanon's lack of space for disposal. Since then, it has amassed over 10 million tons of waste, which has been disastrous for the health of the locals, and the environment. In an interview with Phys, local resident Raghida Halabi says "This area suffers from high cancer rates, residents have incurable diseases, skin diseases, breathing problems." Similar protests were held last year, which ended with the government pledging to shut the landfill down on July 17. As this did not come into fruition, the protestors had to strike again, this time with even more might. Residents blocked the road leading the the landfill, forcing it to close; as a result, refuse collection was suspended in all towns and cities that rely on the Naameh landfill.

In recent weeks, the protests have escalated to a bigger conversation about Lebanon's corrupt government and violent law enforcement. The Lebanese army and riot police on duty at Riad al-Solh have been using water cannons, tear gas, guns, and other forms of excessive violence to deter protestors, but this has backfired and added to the protestor's determination to change Lebanon's political climate. So far, there have been several injuries and arrests, and one death. The Lebanese government is also subject of much vitriol due to its inability to house and care for the estimated 1,113,941 registered Syrian refugees who have escaped the ongoing conflict in their home country—and the actual number of refugees far exceeds that, as the Lebanese government ordered the UNHCR to temporarily suspend registration of any additional refugees.

There have been calls for the government's resignation after Prime Minister, Tammam Salam, and his cabinet failed to come up with a solution to the refuse crisis after lengthy, intense meetings. The government has even resorted to building a wall around Salam's office to block the protestors from causing damage to, and infiltrating the buildings, but this hasn't prevented them from burning barbed wire shielding other government buildings. As the government hides, and news organizations seek to mask the truth by portraying protestors as violent, Aziz sought to deliver the truth, even when her other forces attempted to prevent her from doing so.