Macron in Lebanon: Hijabi Reporter Not Allowed to Speak and Dual Standards on Protesters
By Nour Rida
On Thursday, August 7, 2020, Western mainstream media covered French President Manuel Macron’s visit to Lebanon in the aftermath of the Hiroshima-like explosion that hit Lebanon three days earlier. News headlines and stories covered his visit as he called for “reforms and change”, and told Lebanon that any money to help Beirut recover must come with what he called a “new political order” to replace a “system that no longer has the trust of its people.”
Of course the media failed to mention two things; Macron’s (indirect) racist attitude towards a Lebanese reporter when he got her prevented from asking a question during a press conference, and his dual standards in dealing with protesters in Lebanon and protesters back in France.
Mona Tahini, a Lebanese citizen who has been working as a news reporter for the past 13 years was prevented from asking Macron a question during his press conference at the Pine Palace in Beirut on Thursday, one single question, at the time other reporters were allowed to ask multiple questions or even have discussions and pose for pictures with the French president.
The reporter who works for al-Manar TV, posted a video on her Twitter account which shows Macron having a side talk and taking selfie pictures with a number of journalists although the pretext for preventing her from raising her question was that that the French President Macron did not have enough time before heading to the airport to back into France.
Tahini said that some journalists consumed a long time while raising their questions, adding that she was not given her turn to ask although she had already taken a permission for that.
Interpreting the instance, Macron’s attitude towards Tahini can be explained as prejudice and bias towards the female reporter in what clearly indicates a racist attitude towards her wardrobe as she was the only reporter wearing the Hijab. Macron was unfair, and did not give Tahini the chance to ask a question for wearing her Hijab. Else, there would be one more interpretation to preventing Tahini from asking: he is afraid of the question itself in advance.
It is said that people usually fear what they are unfamiliar with. But for someone like Macron, a President of what he claims to be a “modern” and “developed” France, he should have educated himself a bit more on that piece of cloth called Hijab; supposedly a personal and religious freedom.
Both, banning Tahini from speaking and his double standards on confronting French protesters with violence while supporting Lebanese protesters (for political aims obviously) refute the claims about Macron’s France holding the values of democracy and freedom of speech. Not only does his attitude contest his claims of being democratic, but also highlights the lack of values France claims as one of its major legacies in its motto of the so-called French revolution: “egalité” i.e. equality.
Now before discussing Macron and his dual standards on protesters, it is interesting to see how Western mainstream media frames the story. It reported that “Lebanese protesters” seemed to feel like Macron was on their side and reporting that they said “he was their only hope.” Quoting one protester, the media allowed itself to do what it does all the time, have one speak on behalf of a few million who do not agree with that view point necessarily. Western media and Macron are similar in one aspect: they both allow themselves to speak on behalf of others.
Now Macron warmly reacted with Lebanese protesters who chanted "Revolution!" as he walked through the Gemmayze street. The scenario seems a bit odd when remembering France’s 2019 which offers a preview of Macron’s real face and how he could not take in any criticism: growing protests against liberalism—and growing brutality against the protests.
Protesters in France believed they were objecting Macron's Neoliberal policies which have brought so much poverty & human misery to France, but Macron could not digest it. Thousands of Yellow vests or “Gilets Jaunes” took to the streets in for long consecutive weeks and were confronted with severe violence.
Never mind, we are by no means in a place to impeach Macron for his violence against his own people, they can sort out their issues within their country, but of course it remains sad to see how French protesters are confronted with tear gas bombs and severe ferocity.
What should be unclouded and completely transparent is that Macron, who enjoys no tolerance back at home towards his people and is accused of standing behind a corrupt system is by no means eligible to guide Lebanon on what to do and how to sort out its issues.