Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Asking Aoun a question? Better not be a Muslim

[Originally posted at NOW]

When all else fails in the search for decent late-night TV in Lebanon, you can always rely on an interview with a politician for a hefty fix of whatever genre you’re after – drama, comedy, fantasy, action, crime, and even horror.

I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide in which category the following exchange belongs, from MTV’s interview last night with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun. It starts when the presenter, Walid Abboud, reads out a question from a viewer with a conspicuously non-Christian-sounding name (at time 1:21:58 in below video).

Here’s an English translation of what transpires:

Abboud: Mustafa al-Maane asks you, “Do you, General, think the Memorandum of Understanding [between the FPM and Hezbollah] distances you from your Christian base and makes you a partner […]”

Aoun: [Interrupts] What’s his name?

Abboud: “[…] in the shedding of Syrian blood?” Mustafa al-Maane.

Aoun: [Pauses, visibly irritated] He has to leave this to the Christians, they have their position, what does he want with it? Besides, who gave him the right to give us a lecture?

Abboud: He’s giving us his question.

Aoun: OK, what’s his position, talking like this?

Abboud: I don’t know.

Aoun: Where is he talking to us from, a front? Is he talking to us from a bank?

Abboud: He reached us on Facebook.

Aoun: This is a fake name.

Abboud: I don’t know where he is.

Aoun: This is a fake Christian.

Abboud: No, he’s Mustafa, he’s not […]

Aoun: His name is [only] Mustafa here.

Abboud: Ah, ok [laughs nervously]. OK, Majdal Aadabe asks you […]

One certainly can’t fault the General for innovation. Faced with a tough question? Don’t just not answer it (that goes without saying). Don’t just speculate baselessly about the possibly dishonorable motives of the questioner, and accuse him of being an agent provocateur. Why stop there? Attack him for his very religion, which, being different to your own, disqualifies him from asking the question in the first place. After all, what business does a Muslim have poking his nose in Christian affairs? (Never mind that the FPM-Hezbollah alliance is one undertaken equally between Christians and Muslims.) What does he think this is, a democracy?

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