Interview with Ghazi Al Aridi, Lebanon's Minister of Information

Ghazi Al Aridi, Lebanon's outspoken Minister of Information speaks to Arabian Business about the closure of MTV and what he thinks of the entire situation.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  October 6, 2002

|~||~||~|AB: Has the Publications Court behaved properly in your opinion when it ordered the closure of Murr television or MTV?

GA: Well I really don’t wish to open the file and revisit this issue. I have spoken about this in the past, this is an organisation that they [courts?] have wanted to close for a while. I don’t want to open this file again after this big escalation. The decision and everything relating to the conflict will revert to a judicial decision. The conflict with MTV and the cracking down on the station is a long story.

AB: Coverage of the issue has been minimal outside of Lebanon, could you elaborate a bit more?

GA: Yes I know. The situation at the moment, is that yes, there has been a violation of a section of the legal system. But there are other organisations that have also violated the law, but why was no action taken against them.

There is no talk about the legal system making an incorrect judgement about anything in particular. One of the things that we have said, is that television in Lebanon throughout 2000, was used in one of the ugliest ways you can imagine in an election — against a former prime minister and nominees and so forth. If you want to implement the law and not embarrass the legal system then you should apply it to every one across the board. And this has been my objection in principle from the very day I arrived at the Ministry of Information.

The application of the law should be without discrimination. Whoever violates the law should be prosecuted whoever it may be, and this protects the state, the legal system and the organisations.

AB: Your Excellency, in the context of the MTV case, who in your opinion is in charge at the moment, the courts, the government or some other entity?

GA: The government is not involved in the present conflict as a government in all honesty. Who is the government? In this particular incident the head of the government is the Minister of information. The government has taken the decision to apply the law to everyone — conveying this decision and the implementation of this decision is the Minister of Information who is saying the Prime Minister has nothing to do with what has happened, and neither does the Minister of Information or the Government of Lebanon.

There are other people who wanted to stir up this issue, but the courts have ruled correctly that there has been a violation. But that violation is not there alone, there are violations every day. ||**||

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