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On May 6, the leftist daily As-Safir carried the following report by Maysa Awwad: “it seems that the decision to ban Al-Manar’s reporter Manar al-Sabbagh from entering the Grand Serail will bring about further repercussions. While Al-Manar’s Manager Mohammad Afif told As-Safir that the decision is” political and linked to the attack carried out against Hezbollah”, the media advisor of Prime Minister Fouad al-Sanyurah Aref al-Abed said in a telephone conversation with As-Safir that the decision “is one of the normal measures against a journalist who disobeyed professional rules and not against the channel itself.”

“But what had really happened? What are the repercussions of the decision? As-Safir called colleague Al-Sabbagh who said: “I headed to the Serail and while I was about to place my bag in the scanner device, one of the guards told me that my ID was retracted. So I told him that I could use the pink ID (an exclusive ID) as occurs often, but after many contacts between the guards, they told me that Aref al-Abed, media advisor of Prime Minister Fouad al-Sanyurah “has withdrawn your card and asked us to inform you that you are not allowed to enter the Serail.” Sabbagh added that “I was previously banned from entering the Serail upon a decision conveyed to my boss, but I did lots of news coverage after that without any problems.”

“Sabbagh explained that she called Mohammad Dandashi, head of the Cabinet’s bureau, “who told me that the decision is issued by Dr. Aref al-Abed and that he doesn’t think that the prime minister is briefed about it. He promised me he would inform the prime minister about what happened and brief me about the outcome.”

“Sabbagh continued: “Maybe I bother them with my reports and questions. We speak loudly if we see something inappropriate, and ask displeasing questions that reflect the opinion of a large portion of the Lebanese. But is this a reason to prevent me from covering the Serail?”She added that while she was being informed about the decision, her colleagues told her that the police dogs were inspecting her vehicle and devices, wondering “have we become the enemy?”

“For his part, Prime Minister Fouad al-Sanyurah’s Media Advisor Aref al-Abed told As-Safir that Al-Manar Channel is welcomed and is allowed to enter the Serail and all other reporters [except for Sabbagh] are allowed to enter. He said that Sabbagh is banned from entering since “six months ago, she intended to chat with the prime minister while keeping the voice recorder on without informing him about this. This is a violation of professional ethics and rules. At that time, we informed her management and I agreed with her boss to deploy another reporter. He asked me not to withdraw her card in order not to embarrass her in front of her colleagues, but she came back without any notice. Thus, I withdrew her card and this is an administrative measure against a journalist who disobeyed professional rules and not against the channel itself…” - As-Safir, Lebanon


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