BEIRUT: Crouching in a corner and flinching at every wave of the stick, a young boy’s abuse at the hands of an even younger Lebanese child was taped, and widely shared online Saturday,spreading waves of controversy across social media platforms.
State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud assigned the case to the Bekaa Valley prosecutor, in an effort to determine the source of the video, a judicial source told the Daily Star on Saturday.
While it became certain that the video was filmed in one of the Bekaa Valley villages, unconfirmed information made available to the judiciary suggested that the abused boy was Syrian, the source said.
"The prosecutor in the Bekaa Valley is working to identify the names and nationalities of the perpetrators and the victim," the source added.
The Internal Security Forces had announced on its Twitter account on Saturday that it took note of the video and was working on tracking it down.
“Hit him Abbas, hit him on the head with the stick,” were the orders shouted by Abbas’ relatives, who were responsible for the footage taken on a mobile phone.
Not more than three to four years old, Abbas’ tied up pony tail waved as he swiped a thick stick back and forth toward a passive seven year old boy dressed in ragged pants, a shabby shirt and flapping sandals.
The victim crumpled to the floor, kneeling before Abbas who then continued beating him with the heavy rod.
The victim, who is most likely not Lebanese, guarded his face with his hands saying “please not the face” after one of Abbas’ relatives ordered the child to strike in that direction.
The abused child tried to fend off the attacks with his hands, grabbing hold of the thick wooden rod.
“If you don’t let go of the stick, it’s going to be me who beats you up. It would be better if you let Abbas do it,” yelled one of Abbas’ relatives with a heavy Lebanese accent.
At one moment the victim's bent over body shuddered inn absolute fear when another boy, identified in the video as Hussam, threatened to grab the stick from the younger boy and beat the victim himself.
“Not you! Not you!” he yelled back at Hussam.
Behind the camera an orchestra of voices yelled out orders to the little boy, some of them from a man some from an unknown female observer.
“Slap him in the face. Ok now kick him on the stomach,” they yelled out, “punch him on the head, come on punch him.”
At this point, the abused child began crying out in pain, wailing at every new strike. Meanwhile the observers behind the camera laughed and giggled as Abbas double punched the child with both fists before going back for the stick.
The video concludes with a heavy cry from the victim as Hussam slaps the back of the child’s neck and Abbas throws one last blow at the kneeling body.
The video was first released on yassour.org news website and then quickly circulated around various social network platforms.
Owner of the yassour domain Haitham Shaaban told the Daily Star that he initially received the video through WhatsApp from a source who requested to remain anonymous.
“The person who sent us the video has nothing to do with it, and he has asked that we keep his identity private. We don’t have much information on who the perpetrators are,” he said.
The website described the victim as “most likely not Lebanese,” which in turn stirred waves of controversy throughout social networks.
Those who subscribed to the notion that the child was either Syrian or Palestinian saw the attack as a blatant hate crime.
Others who thought the child was Lebanese perceived the video as a documented model of rampant child abuse in the country.
Many websites started taking the video down and blocking the link due to users reporting the video, and requesting the YouTube server to restrict access.