In the video below, an Al Jadeed TV crew says they were assaulted by at least three car loads of men with machine guns while investigating a controversial Bekaa cement factory connected to a member of parliament. The female reporter–Youmna Fawaz– says she was grabbed by the collar and thrown against a car, the photographer says he was beaten and threatened with murder and a local municipal council member said guns were thrust at him for trying to intervene.
While the cameraman’s video card was reportedly confiscated by the militiamen, a surveillance video in the report above shows men pushing and shoving a group of people, one of them swaggering away brandishing what appears to be an Kalashnikov assault rifle. According to news reports, the factory–which is opposed by many area residents– is owned by Pierre Fattouch, brother of MP Nicolas Fattouch. That name may sound familiar because the same MP allegedly punched a female civil servant last October and was subsequently disbarred a week later.
Apparently Fattouch and his brother own several of rock quarries across the country. Al Akhbar has reported the businessmen are involved in a number of controversial multimillion dollar deals in relation to the quarries and other companies and may owe millions of dollars in unpaid taxes.
Let’s hope this issue leads to more investigative journalism in the vastly unreported and unregulated areas of environmentally destructive rock quarries, the militiamen assigned to moguls and politicians and attacks on the press with impunity. This is by no means an isolated practice and even some of those politicians/businessmen now standing with Al Jadeed (from both sides of the M8/M14 political divide) have engaged in some of these nefarious practices themselves.
Thank you for you and the Al Jadeed crew speaking up.
It’s great to see environmental causes brought forward in the news. I’m hoping we will continue focusing on this issue that will have a serious impact on many people for generations, and not get distracted by the intimidation attempt that, while utterly disgusting and very unfortunate, is a common practice here and otherwise secondary to the problem at hand.