After an uproar from critics, The Daily Beast has removed an article that labeled Lebanon and four other Middle Eastern countries as “The worst places (on earth) to visit.” The link now directs to a blank page with no explanation.

I wrote an extensive criticism of the piece yesterday which clearly singled out  the Middle East, Africa and former Soviet states. So did politics or a bit of Islamophobia play a role in this list?

The worst countries–which are all beautiful places– were as follows:

1. Lebanon
2. Iran
3. Egypt
4. Ukraine
5. Jordan
6. South Africa
7. Russia
8. Georgia
9. Morocco
10. Senegal

We can see that 60 percent of the “worst” countries are Middle Eastern or African and the remainder are largely former Soviet states. Pretty objective, huh?

Of course Islam and communism have been the greatest perceived “boogie men” in the West over the last few decades, but surely this was just a coincidence, right?

Though the piece has been removed, its Facebook advertisement still exists:

We first heard it could be taken down when the Beast’s executive editor tweeted that the piece was “messed up” last night. But it wasn’t removed for several more hours.

@tomgara @acarvin @borzou Yeah, this piece is messed up. We’re pulling it.
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) March 13, 2014

Here are some screen shots I took before it was taken down:

How many times has one wall been used to represent an entire country?

Among the winners were South American and Asian countries such as, Brazil, Thailand and Mexico:

I guess the 100,000 people who have been killed in Mexican drug wars did not bother the Beast editors as much as places like Jordan and Iran which have some of the lowest crime rates on earth.

*Unfortunately I missed getting a screenshot of number 6, so if anyone has it, please update me.

Update: Number 6 is South Africa. Thanks to Almaz for the screen shot. 

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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.


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