Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lebanese TV Lampoons Nasrallah

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

As I think back over the past 12 months I find that one of the funniest and at the same time one of the boldest moves in the Middle East was made by LBC, the Lebanese Broadcasting Company, a private network that broadcasts from Beirut.

Every Friday night LBC airs a regular comedy show that pokes fun at the situation in Lebanon and the whole Middle East. Most of their comedy is simple imitation and role playing. The name of the Friday night show is in itself a play on words. It is called Bas Mat Watan which means the Homeland's Laughter, but it sounds very similar to Bas Met Watan which means the homeland is dying.

One particular episode in November depicted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. It was a hilarious lampoon of the Shiites radical cleric. Nothing of this kind had performed on air since 2006 and undertaking this parody took a great deal of courage - even in free thinking Lebanon. People have been assassinated for much less.

The show caused riots and a huge tidal wave of activity on twitter.
Some said that it was inappropriate to mock a cleric. Supporters of the show said that Nasrallah was fair game because he was a political figure and was no different from any other politician they lampoon. Besides, supporters said, this program impersonates religious leaders all the time.

Until November LBC was too afraid of the repercussions to touch Nasrallah. The reason they felt enabled to rake him over the proverbial coals of television comedy is that as the conflict spilled over into Lebanon and more Lebanese lives were lost, they finally felt comfortable challenging Hezbollah's involvement in Syria and its impact on Lebanon.


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