BEIRUT: MTV’s chairman and CEO Saturday personally apologized to Sidon MP Bahia Hariri over a recent sketch of the lawmaker that sparked outrage in the southern coastal city, describing the incident as an unintentional lapse on the part of the station.
During Tuesday’s airing of the weekly MTV program Hayda Haki (This is talk), a Photoshopped picture depicted Hariri wearing what appeared to be a bikini and dancing with her Hezbollah rival MP Mohammad Raad.
The sketch caused outrage in Sidon, with some protesters burning tires to block the road near the Awali River Bridge.
MTV and the show’s presenter apologized the next day, saying it was an unintentional mistake. The host of the show described the incident as an unintentional violation of the religious beliefs of Hariri, who wears a hijab.
Meeting Hariri at her residence in Majdalyoun, MTV CEO Michel Murr repeated his firm’s apology and said “the lapse was unintentional and alien to the approach of the channel and its commitment to the highest standards of professionalism,” according to a statement from Hariri’s office.
Hariri, in turn, thanked Murr for the apology and voiced her respect for the freedom and role of the media in Lebanon.
She also “stressed at the same time on the need for this role of the media to be in line with professional and national responsibility.”
Hezbollah’s media relations office has condemned the sketch, describing it as a breach of norms and professional standards.