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A caricature published in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper writes "April fools... the Lebanese state" over the Lebanese flag in its Friday, April 1, 2016 edition. (The Daily Star/Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper)

Saudi newspaper says Lebanon an April Fools’ joke

BEIRUT: Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat published a caricature in its Friday edition depicting the Lebanese state as an April Fools’ joke, provoking angry reactions by Lebanese citizens.

The cartoon shows a Lebanese flag with the text “April Fools… the Lebanese state” written over it.

Ali Hashem, a Lebanese journalist said in a tweet that “despite all its misfortunes and the failure of the government, despite the years of war and occupation, despite the current divisions… [Lebanon] is the most original truth in the region.”

The Twitter accounts of some Lebanese media outlets, including Tayyar, An-Nahar, and LBCI’s Kalam Ennas program, also denounced the cartoon.

Journalist Sawsan Abu Zahr on Twitter said the cartoon was “rejected,” underlining that a rift between Riyadh and a certain political group “doesn’t entitle anyone to insult a whole country. It’s enough.”

Another Twitter user lashed out at the Saudi daily, saying: “The comments are totally rejected and insults the newspaper as much as it insults Lebanon.”

A female user called on Lebanese journalists and media figures to condemn the caricature.

Saudi Arabia has upped its campaign against Lebanon amid strained ties prompted by Hezbollah’s policies in the region.

Earlier Friday, the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel, which is part of MBC group, announced that it has closed its offices in Beirut over “security” concerns.

Hezbollah has been recently blacklisted by the Gulf Cooperation Council as a “terrorist organization.”

Source: Saudi newspaper says Lebanon an April Fools’ joke

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