Jumblatt’s inflammatory comments toward Syria censored on Egyptian TV show

“I will smash Lebanon on your head," vowed head of the Lebanese Socialist Progressive Party Walid Jumblatt on a trailer for the Egyptian TV talk show Dawam al-Hal, hosted by Lamis al-Hadidy. The threat was directed at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the long-time Druze politician referred to as a "snake" and the "tyrant of Damascus."

Viewers were surprised to find, however, that the provocative comments were cut from the interview that aired Wednesday, a day after the trailer. Al-Masry Al-Youm can not confirm the specific date Jumblatt made the comments.

Jumblatt visited Damascus in late March in an effort to reconcile differences with the Syrian regime and its political proxies in Lebanon. After the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005, Jumblatt launched a vitriolic campaign of criticism against Syria, the party many believe responsible for al-Hariri's death.

Al-Masry Al-Youm obtained details of the five minutes of removed material that included questions such as "How could you shake hands with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after you called him a tyrant and a snake?”, and ”How could you change your stance on Hezbollah’s weapons saying that the issue is now negotiable?” Jumblatt responded to the latter question by saying, "Hezbollah’s weapons are strategic for Arabs and Muslims”, but that statement was censored.

Most perplexing is that the cut interview segments are at odds with the idea of the program. The removed material portrays the schizophrenia nature of Jumblatt's attitudes and behavior over the years–the expected focus of the show.

A popular program, Dawam al-Hal, or "nothing remains unchanged forever," has brought Egyptian TV 410 minutes of commercials during the second third of Ramadan.

The show aired at a particularly tense time in Lebanon's recent relationship with Syria. The international criminal tribunal for al-Hariri's assassination is due to release indictments in the near future.  

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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