As regular readers will attest, I’m something of a Lebanese political talk show junkie. Shows like Kalam al-Nas, Bi-Mawdu`iyyeh, al-Fasad, and others, in my view, do a much better job of derailing politicians off their talking points than most of their counterparts in the West.
In a country where the print media is largely ignored and has a marginal influence on politics, getting your message across on these weekly TV programs is a vital piece of every political party’s strategy. As a result, what one usually gets is a very lively debate between two politicians from rival parties.
Occasionally, it gets ugly. The clips below are some of my favorite rumbles from the past few years, in no particular order.
1. Mustapha Alloush and Fa’iz Shukur (Bi-Mawdu`iyyeh, November 14, 2011): This clip from today’s show reveals the head of Lebanon’s Baath Party getting physical with Mustapha Alloush, a prominent member of Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement. (What is it with the tempers on these Baath officials? This clip brings to mind the harassment of a pharmacist by Mustapha al-Qawwas, the head of the Baath party in Saida, which was caught on tape a few months ago…)
2. `Uqab Saqr and Hassan Ya`qub (Kalam al-Nas, May 19, 2009): There’s plenty of shouting earlier in this segment, but the key bit is when Saqr calmly corrects Ya`qub’s own erroneous correction of Nicholas Fattoush’s quotation of a Qur’anic verse. Wonky? Sure. But it riled Ya`qub up enough that he (allegedly) threatened to kill Saqr after the show.
3. Ibrahim Kan`aan and Mosbah al-Ahdab (Kalam al-Nas, December 2006): This is a great showdown between two of the most vocal spokesmen of the FPM and March 14, respectively. It takes place not long after Hizbullah walked out of the Saniora cabinet in 2006. Tensions were running very high in the country, and it shows here. Marcel Ghanem has to end the show early to prevent fists from flying.
4. Rafiq Nasrallah vs. Carlos Edde (Kalam al-Nas, May 17, 2008): I don’t know whose bright idea it was to send Carlos Edde against Rafiq Nasrallah just ten days after the events of May 7 2008. Edde grew up abroad and pokes fun at his own linguistic inabilities while Nasrallah is a rhetorical master… No real sparring here but a smack down nonetheless. This is the kind of performance that gets the pro-resistance advocates’ hearts pumping.
5. `Uqab Saqr vs. Omar Bakri (Kalam al-Nas, May 5 2011): I could do a Top Ten of clips devoted only to Saqr — his mastery of this form at such a young age is truly bewildering — but this one is among the recent best. He debates the famous Islamist Omar Bakri shortly after Osama Bin Laden’s death, on the question of whether or not Bin Laden should be regarded as a Muslim hero.