Sunday, October 02, 2005

Killings haunt Lebanese journalists-Aljazeera

Here are some excerpts from the report:

Every morning before she heads to work, Lebanese journalist Dolly Ghanem checks to see if her car has been booby-trapped.

Fear of assassination has gripped many journalists in Lebanon following last week's attempt on May Chidiac, 41, a prominent anchorwoman on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC).

"All journalists are scared," Ghanem told Aljazeera.net in east Beirut's Hotel Dieu Hospital, where she is waiting to hear about Chidiac's condition.

Chidiac is the second journalist to be targeted since the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in April. Columnist Samir Kassir was killed on 2 June in a similar bomb blast.

"Journalists must open their eyes wide and take precautions in such a highly tense atmosphere," says Nabil Bou Monsef, Lebanon editor of the leading An-Nahar daily.

Kassir's front-page columns that were critical of Syria and its allies in Lebanon were published every Friday in An-Nahar until his tragic death.

Some of Lebanon's journalists expressed concern that their colleagues may have now become intimidated enough not to pose far-reaching questions or investigate gripping domestic issues.

Joseph Samaha, editor-in-chief of the left-wing As-Safir newspaper believes the "scope of assassinations has expanded to include journalists who simply ask questions".

"Chidiac was simply posing questions that reflected the views and feelings of her Christian community," he said."Can any journalist ask: 'Who is Detlev Mehlis?' The journalist will immediately be accused of shaking the confidence of the investigation team and that he or she does not want the truth to be revealed about who killed al-Hariri," he said.

In the meantime, LBC and Chidiac's colleagues have pledged to support her until she is back on air.

"I promise May that my voice is hers and my arm is hers and my leg is hers until she comes back to us," screamed Ghanem in an emotional speech she gave in a protest held last week.