"Lebanese Customs has always been corrupt, certainly not every customs officer is corrupt, but many others are. The difference today is that there is media bold enough to cover it," writes blogger Marina Chamma after the Tuesday scandal in Lebanon.
Lebanese customs on Tuesday assaulted a film crew of investigative journalists from Al Jadeed TV, constituting yet another sad day for Lebanon’s freedom of the press, another badge of shame on the government and another example of the public sector’s impunity when it comes to dealing with its own citizens.
Much will be said about this outrageous incident. Beirut-based Al Jadeed TV should not and is not one to let go of such things very easily. And because similar attacks could happen again, and against any citizen expressing his or her opinion on the many transgressions taking place in this country, I’m compelled to add just a couple more words to the discussion:
The battle to fight corruption in Lebanon is long
I’m not a big fan of Al Jadeed’s journalistic style, that is, I agree with a lot of what they say, but do not usually support the way they say it. However, it is hard to deny their courage in covering scandals and controversies in recent years, yesterday’s incident aiming to uncover the corruption at Lebanese Customs being a prime example. Al Jadeed sure has its biases, but if you want me to believe that other stations, lets just say Future TV or Al Manar TV as an example, would be interested and have the guts to engage in such courageous corruption-related investigative journalism, I suggest you think again. Al Jadeed isn’t the only portal to delve into the corruption at customs, but when you have a camera and a TV station to go with it, a message can go very far. Such courage and reporting covering all sectors should be encouraged.
But let’s get back to the original issue at hand. Even if I had no stories – personal ones or borrowed – about the extent of corruption in this particular public administration, the brutal reaction of its officers against a group of investigative journalists in the quest for answers in fact provided all the answers.
Lebanese Customs has always been corrupt, certainly not every customs officer is corrupt, but many others are. The difference today is that there is media bold enough to cover it. The battle to fight corruption in Lebanon, however, is long. And corruption will never end, but it will take generations to bring it to a level that doesn’t poison our lives as much as it does today. I hope yesterday’s incident will be but another humble stepping stone in our long battle against it. Having said this, one would also hope for the same public reaction and support for all those uncovering it too…
This post first appeared on Marina’s blog Eye on the East.