Ziad Rahbani (left) and Samir Geagea (right)

Four years after Samir Geagea, Head of the Lebanese Forces party sued artist Ziad Al Rahbani for libel and slander over statements he made in a written interview and on television in 2013, Lebanon’s Court of Publications convicted Rahbani in the case last week. 

The court demanded that Rahbani issue an apology and retract statements he made on NBN's TV program Abyad w Aswad (Black & White) and in Al Ahed newspaper. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Lebanese liras (around $660). 

Rahbani had labelled Geagea a racist, sectarian war criminal and a sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood in his statements, accusing him of being behind the Sayidet El Najat church massacre of 1994.

On Monday, the Lebanese communist party issued a statement condemning the ruling.

Ever since the news broke out last week, people have also been taking to social media to express their outrage at the verdict. With many criticizing what they see as a violation of freedom of speech and tweeting in support of Rahbani via the hashtag: #تضامن_مع_زياد_الرحباني (In support of Ziad Al Rahbani).

Some quoted Rahbani's words and songs

"Is this a country? No it's not."  

"The situation is miserable."  

Hundreds tweeted their support

"Ziad Rahbani represents all Lebanon's youth, more specifically those who are honorable."  

"Ziad, from the bottom of my heart, I'd like to tell you it's unfortunate for you to live in a country that does not appreciate your unique talent."  

"When the brilliance of a free voice terrifies the state."  

"Ziad should be celebrated and honored, not sued."


"Freedom of expression is a red line, Ziad Rahbani represents me."  

"In Lebanon only, criminals are honored and creatives are criminalized."

But others shot back

"Samir Geagea is a nationalist, and a true leader no matter what you say."

"Seriously, what was Ziad Rahbani smoking when he concluded that Geagea was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?" 

"When will we learn to use our minds and logic in this country? You can love Ziad, or Geagea, but when something wrong is done, our logic must prevail."