In your daily dose of the increasing censorship being enforced by an unchecked government in this country, comedian Hisham Haddad is now on their chopping block as the Lebanese government is filing a lawsuit against him for making fun of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Ben Salman.
In case anyone forgot, Mohammad Ben Salman is the same guy who, not even three months ago, had our own prime minister imprisoned and forced to resign from office. He’s also the same guy who has a bunch of his cousins still held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in his crackdown on “corruption” as he buys mansions and paintings for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Haddad’s “fault” it seems is that he made fun of Michel Hayek’s yearly NYE predictions in which he “advised” the crown prince to cut down on his intake of fast food. The joke in question is the following:
There’s literally nothing in it that is remotely offensive, not that an offensive joke is grounds for a lawsuit in the first place. And yet here we are. Since when are we a country where criticism of any political leader is a red line? Or is it just because its *this* particular leader, whose ass we really want to keep kissing?
I’m not sure if there’s a toxic level of confusion at play here, but Lebanon not a country where citizens can be silenced left and right for making a joke about leaders – and at the very least leaders of other countries – and no repercussions about it. We are not a country where a joke can get you beheaded, imprisoned. In other words, Lebanon is not Saudi Arabia. Our leaders are not supreme rulers. They are elected officials who answer to us, and whose powers end when they try to walk all over our constitutionally given freedoms just to appease foreign leaders by going extra miles just for their appeasement.
This same government was upset a few weeks ago that Marcel Ghanem’s TV show allowed Saudi pundits to be on air and insult the Lebanese government and its president. By the looks of it, MBS seems to be a role model for the way our leaders want to govern, but they won’t be having any of it.
Regardless of the girth of Mohammad Ben Salman’s abdomen, or the amount of daily fat he likes to eat, this country will never become what our leaders want it to become: a place where we have to think 300 times about criticizing a politician, the policies of another country, a religious leader, or agree in any form or fashion to their heinous attempts at oppression by filing baseless lawsuits just because they’re bored.
If Saudi Citizens are used to having their basic human rights and freedoms walked all over, then we – as lebanese citizens – are not. And what Hisham Haddad is going through now, and Marcel Ghanem before him, are horrendous transgressions against their basic constitutional rights as Lebanese citizens, just to please a Saudi prince.
Lebanon is not a district of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our president is not a crown prince. And Mohammad Ben Salman is open season for any joke in my country. Now let’s have Lebanon’s government be up to speed with this.