Lebanese activist stormed and sacked the Beirut office of Asharq al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned media service, after it depicted Lebanon as an April Fools’ joke on Friday. The cartoon showed a Lebanese flag with the text “April Fools… the Lebanese state”
“Twelve people came into my office and asked us why we didn’t protest (the cartoon), and threatened that if we didn’t strike tomorrow, they will take action,” a journalist for Asharq al-Awsat said.
The protesters only left the offices after the journalist said he was calling the army.
Asharq al-Awsat later issued a statement on its website, saying it “will continue work in Beirut, despite its offices being attacked.”
The paper condemned “this barbarian attack on its offices in Beirut,” it added, saying it holds Lebanese authorities responsible in preserving the safety of its workers.”
The Saudi newspaper said “it regrets the ongoing uproar,” adding that it was interpreted “in a wrong way.”
Information Minister Ramzi Joreige described the cartoon as “rude” and “unacceptable.”
“Lebanon is a truth, which is thousands of years old, and it is not a lie,” he told local media.
In Arabic, April Fools translates to “April Lie”.
Arab Tawhid Party leader Wiam Wahhab also addressed the cartoon stating: “If the Lebanese flag and its Cedar is a lie, listen oh children of [King] Salman… I will tell you that your king is a lie, and you are all a lie, and your country is an illusion, and you are the biggest lie.”
Elias Aoun, the head of the Union of Journalists, told Al-Manar: “There are some jokes that are allowed, but this is not one of them.”