News / Middle East

Hezbollah Supportive of Egyptian, Tunisian Uprisings But Not Syria's

A female demonstrator holds a flag of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during a sit-in protest against the Saudi, Bahraini and Yemeni leaders' crackdown on their opposition in Tehran, Iran, April 22, 2011 (file photo).
A female demonstrator holds a flag of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah during a sit-in protest against the Saudi, Bahraini and Yemeni leaders' crackdown on their opposition in Tehran, Iran, April 22, 2011 (file photo).
Margaret Besheer

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia group and political movement, used its al-Manar television channel to broadcast images supportive of anti-government protesters in Egypt and Tunisia. But analysts say the Shi'ite group's attitude toward the popular uprising in neighboring Syria has been very different, reflecting its close ties to the Syrian government.

As protesters demanded the ouster of authoritarian leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, Hezbollah's TV station, al-Manar, broadcast images and reports supportive of the demonstrators. But as one of the few media outlets allowed inside Syria to cover its uprising during the last two months, al-Manar has portrayed protesters there in a very different light.

Yasmine Dabbous, assistant professor of journalism and media studies at the Lebanese American University (LAU) says this apparent double standard has to do with the organization's relationship with the governments in these countries.

"In Egypt, it is very well known that Hezbollah had problems with the Egyptian government, so they supported the uprising against it - against Mubarak," noted Dabbous.  "In Syria, on the other hand, they are supportive of the Assad regime, and so the coverage of the events is framed differently."

Professor Dabbous says there are several ways to portray an event and biases can show through, for example, through who reporters interview, how they edit video and by leaving out some facts and emphasizing others.

Imad Salamey, a political science professor at LAU, described some of al-Manar's recent coverage in Syria.

"They were going around in Syria and interviewing people and having people speak in favor of the regime and saying, it is normal life; there is nothing wrong; there is nothing going on; there are a few troublemakers - Israel and U.S. agents trying to stir trouble here and there, but now thank God, Assad has brought stability to the country," said Salamey.

Salamey said the Hezbollah channel also focused on stories that supported the Syrian government's claim that protesters are receiving support from outside the country, broadcasting pictures of what it described as confiscated weapons that had been smuggled from Lebanon, through Jordan and even the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Al-Manar's coverage also emphasized pictures of dead Syrian soldiers and their funerals, while depicting the protesters as destructive and without legitimate grievances.

Professor Salamey notes that while the opposition movement in Syria is essentially secular, the government has tried to portray it as having extremist Islamic roots. He points out that if that were really the case, it would be an incentive for Hezbollah and its mouthpiece to support the demonstrators.

"You would assume that Hezbollah will be, if it was really true to its Islamic principles, to be supporting Islamists against the seculars. But no, strangely enough, you - and this is what exposed the claims of these organizations - we see them standing with the secular regime against supposedly some Islamists coming out of Syria," Salamey noted.

Repeated requests to al-Manar to discuss the channel’s coverage of the uprising in Syria were unsuccessful.

Hezbollah, whose name means "Party of God," styles itself as a resistance movement against Israel, Lebanon's southern neighbor. The group's two patrons are Iran and Syria.

Mohammad Chattah is a senior adviser to Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He says Hezbollah's close links with the Syrian government have taken shaped the content of news coverage by al-Manar.

"Syria was a close ally, in this case, because it was supportive of Iran and Hezbollah. And that is paramount," Chattah explained.

Chattah says that al-Manar’s stance is clear - it is backing its benefactor, the Syrian government.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More