BEIRUT — To illustrate one of its articles published Saturday, the daily al-Akhbar newspaper, close to Hezbollah, used a photo of unofficial presidential candidate Jihad Azour next to ex-minister Mohammad Chatah, who was killed in a car bomb attack on December 27, 2013.
Chatah's family and political supporters blame Hezbollah for his assassination.
In the photo published Saturday, Jihad Azour's blurred face appears in the foreground in front of Mohammad Chatah.
The former minister was a political rival of Hezbollah at the time of his assassination. In 2005, the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon convicted members of Hezbollah for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hariri founded The Future party, of which Chatah was a member.
The outcry over the al-Akhbar photo was immediate on social networks. Some saw it as a thinly-veiled threat against Hezbollah's opponents.
"The newspaper al-Akhbar, a provocative and treacherous armed wing, perpetually threatening opponents of Hezbollah ... publishes a cover showing candidate Jihad Azour next to the late Mohammad Chatah, killed as part of a series of assassinations for which Hezbollah is accused," reacted journalist Diana Moukalled on Twitter.
Al-Akhbar later removed the photo.
"The newspaper chose a photo with Mohammad Chatah before removing it," tweeted Moukalled. "The removal of the photo in no way diminishes the truth of the provocative and systematic role played by this newspaper and, behind it, Hezbollah."
صحيفة "الأخبار" الذراع التحريضي التخويني المهدد الدائم لمعارضي حزب الله ورافعي شعار "تحسسوا رقابكم" تنشر صباحا غلافاً للمرشح جهاد ازعور بشكل مموه وفيه صورة للراحل محمد شطح الذي قتل اغتيالا ضمن سلسلة اغتيالات متهم حزب الله بارتكابها..— ديانا مقلد Diana Moukalled (@dianamoukalled) June 3, 2023
المقال عن جهاد ازعور لكن الصحيفة اختارت صورة… pic.twitter.com/ITPVNZjAML
Other Internet users took a screenshot of the different versions of the newspaper, showing the photo of the article before and after modification.
"Hezbollah was so afraid of the reactions that it not only changed the photo on its online site, but also republished a PDF version," wrote one social media user.
Hezbollah got so freaked out by the backlash that not only did they change the photo on the online article, but they uploaded a completely new replacement pdf edition. I took the first screenshot from the original pdf, this is how it looks now. pic.twitter.com/1PDqMSrSBE— Mustapha Hamoui (@Beirutspring) June 3, 2023
"My father found a way to expose [Hezbollah] on Twitter minutes before they killed him. ...We all demand an end to Teheran's hold on Lebanon," said journalist Ronnie Chatah, the son of the assassinated ex-minister, in 2022.
BEIRUT — To illustrate one of its articles published Saturday, the daily al-Akhbar newspaper, close to Hezbollah, used a photo of unofficial presidential candidate Jihad Azour next to ex-minister Mohammad Chatah, who was killed in a car bomb attack on December 27, 2013. Chatah's family and political supporters blame Hezbollah for his assassination.In the photo published Saturday, Jihad Azour's...