Newspaper reacts to deteriorating civic space
On 11th October 2018, media outlet Annahar printed a blank newspaper. The protest action sought to highlight "deteriorating conditions in the country at all levels." In a statement explaining the blank paper, Annahar's Editor in Chief Nayla Tueini called for the formation of a government, saying:
“Today we launch the slogan 'A White Day in the Face of Darkness' to sound the alarm over the crisis we are facing and to urge officials to form a government as soon possible.”
Political deadlock in the country and restrictions on civic space remain a key concern in Lebanon. The protest comes at a moment when freedom of expression is under pressure. As previously documented on the CIVICUS Monitor, worries over a deteriorating situation for free speech have continued during 2018 and are further highlighted by Annahar's protest.
Evidence suggests that these concerns are warranted. Another CSO, Lebanon Support, is documenting instances of online censorship imposed by the Lebanese authorities. Over the last two months, they note that the Lebanese penal code was regularly used to silence and criminalise dissidents. In many cases, individuals targetted were simply posting sarcastic comments or criticising public officials.
#DataforChange— Lebanon Support (@LebanonSupport) October 11, 2018
غالباً ما يستخدم قانون العقوبات اللبناني كمحاولة لإسكات وتجريم أشخاص لمجرد نشر تعليقات ساخرة تنتقد رموز دينية أو مسؤولين سياسيين. وقد تمّ تسجيل ٩ عمليات احتجاز لناشطين على مواقع التواصل الاجتماعي بسبب آرائهم حول بعض المسؤولين و الرموز الدينية، بين أيار وآب ٢٠١٨. pic.twitter.com/M8XZMd1J7O