By Naomi Sakr
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Additional resources for ARAB MEDIA AND POLITICAL RENEWAL Community, Legitimacy and Public Life
But it also contained a pun on the name of Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, with its significant Syrian military presence, and the Arabic word boqaa, meaning stains. 35 A R A B M E D I A A N D P O L I T I C A L R E N E WA L Popular culture also provided a reference for the slogans. A line from a song by Madonna, ‘Papa don’t preach, I’m in trouble deep’, was written on a placard carrying the photographs of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad and his late father Hafez, the former president. ’) were written in black and white on several placards, using the punch line in a popular joke to refer to the Lebanese people’s defiance of Syrian dominance.
Both stations deliberately contributed to a new public discourse in which Martyrs’ Square, where the protests at Hariri’s killing took place, became known as Freedom Square. 31 Ever since the post-civil-war reconstruction of downtown Beirut the area had come to be popularly known as either ‘Downtown’ (in English) or ‘Solidère’, after the name of the company (largely owned by Hariri) that rebuilt the centre. By resurrecting the term al-balad, television stations seemed to be trying to reconnect with the public, invoking a lost language relating to a shared experience of a time before the civil war.
Politicians also used television to send other non-verbal messages. Rafiq Hariri’s sister, MP Bahia Hariri, started wearing a blue badge signifying ‘the truth’ during her television appearances. All presenters on Future TV later started to wear the badge too. 49 The beginning of March marked a media contest between pro- and anti-Syrian demonstrators over the same symbols and issues. The saturation television coverage of anti-Syrian demonstrators did not go unnoticed by Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, who announced that he was well versed in camera techniques.