UPDATE: Zeid Hamdan has now been released, but he is still facing charges of defamation. The original story follows…
Zeid Hamdan has been arrested in Lebanon, accused of defaming the president because of this song:
Zeid is one of his country’s most important musical figures, a father figure for the underground movement.
Just three weeks ago he told me that Lebanon had a long way to go, and that at a time when the region was in revolution, there are still many red lines in Lebanon. Here is a rough translation of a statement by his solicitor, saying something similar:
Zeid Hamdan has been arrested for defamation, because of his song ‘General Suleiman’ which criticised corruption, militia, foreign interference in Lebanon.
The video has been on YouTube for around 1 year. At the end of this song, Zeid uses the phrase, ‘go home General Suleiman’.
The maximum sentence for defamation is 2 years in jail under law numbers 384 and 386.
Zeid was questioned on 20 July and 21 July.
This arrest hurts freedom of art and opinion and expression in Lebanon and reveals how authorities discard personal freedom.
What makes it really regrettable is that it happened in Lebanon at a time when we see revolutions in different Arab countries, to remove the holy status of Arab presidents and give back honour to Arab citizens.
Following what we have said, we ask the public to take a stand to defend the republic’s freedom in Lebanon.
Solicitor Nizar Saghia