BEIRUT: Airport Security has disputed singer Nancy Ajram’s angry tweets criticizing the handling of congestion at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport.
The singer posted a video Thursday morning in which she appears to be carrying her 5-month-old daughter through a barely moving queue of arrivals at Beirut’s airport.
“Today I am not an artist, but a citizen with a 5-months-old daughter who has been crying for an hour,” Ajram tweeted. “Is such neglect of our rights as citizens acceptable?”
In subsequent tweets, the singer argued that pregnant women and small children across the world are given preferential treatment, except in Lebanon. “This is the most basic women’s right and a duty [on others] toward women,” she wrote.
“Is this the Lebanon that you want to encourage tourists to visit?”
The tweets were shared widely on social media, with the video receiving more than 1.9 million views.
But security cameras show Ajram waiting in the arrivals hall for only 12 minutes, airport security claimed in a statement carried by the state-run Nation News Agency later the same day.
“She arrived in the arrivals hall at 11:29 p.m. and her passport was stamped at 11:41 p.m. Therefore she only waited for 12 minutes,” the statement read.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Ajram’s manager Jiji Lamara declined to comment on the exact time the singer spent in the queue.
“It is not about the time,” he argued, stating that Ajram had tweeted on behalf of all women, not just about her own case.
“It upset [Ajram] to see all the women in the queue who had young children ... We don’t like seeing this in our country,” Lamara said.
He added that the singer had chosen to fly at night thinking that the airport would be quieter than at other points during the day.
But airport security’s statement claimed that Ajram had arrived at rush hour and that nine flights landed in less than one hour with over 1,700 passengers on board.
The airport’s manager, Fadi el-Hasan, told The Daily Star that the airport experiences two “peak arrival periods” a day. From 1 p.m. till 4 p.m. and from 11 p.m. till 3 a.m.