Dr May Chidiac continues to speak for political freedom in Lebanon despite her assassination attempt




by Marcelle Mansour

 “From the depth of pain, the birth will come” 
Dr May Chidiac

In May 7, 2014, the University of Sydney hosted Dr May Chidiac, in her first visit to Australia where she presented a public lecture as part of the Sydney Ideas series held by the Australian Lebanese Foundation (ALF) at the Great Hall. The topic addressed the role of women in media during national conflicts. In attendance of distinguished guests and a large number of people, Professor Fadia Ghossyn delivered a speech and officially introduced Dr May Chidiac.

Dr Chidiac is a veteran Lebanese journalist, president and founder of the May Chidiac Foundation – Media Institute. She is a former television journalist and media figure who is renounced for her outspoken criticism of the political influence of Syria over Lebanon. On 25th September 2005, Chidiac lost part of her left arm and leg in one of a tragic series of bombings in Lebanon targeting critics of Syria.

Despite extensive and painful recovery, on July 2006 she returned to her role in the media where she continued to speak out for political freedom in Lebanon. Dr Chidiac understands how precious the price of 'free speech' in a country unstable by the political strain of its neighbours. She stated “They wanted to keep me silent and not to hear my voice; it costed almost my life... I was sitting on the explosion; it was a miracle that I survived.”

Images on the screen showed how the bomb blew up and destroyed the vehicle, the front section of the car severely crushed. Dr Chidiac described the flashbacks associated with the bombing, and explained extensively how she experienced the torture. Some horrifying images of Lebanon’s assassinations between (2005-2012) including PM Rafik Hariri’s assassination, February 14th, 2005.Then displayed the tragic mages of Dr. Chidiac and her suffering and torture after the attempt of her assignation...She recalled sad moments after she was seriously injured and her left leg and arm amputated, when she felt physically unable to be independent anymore. In her own words “When you wake up and find no arm...all the sudden you feel the pain for being unable to use what you had before...sometimes I needed to go out but needed someone to help me wearing my prostheses and therefore I had to stay home lonely and to adapt to a new life...It is easy to start crying because the suffering is still there.”

In appreciation of the importance of journalism, Dr Chidiac referred to quotes from history:”journalism without a moral position is impossible. Every journalist is a moralist, it’s absolutely unavoidable.” (French writer Marguerite Duras). “We go to remote war zones to report what is happening. The public has a right to know what our governments, and our armed forces, are doing in our name. Our mission is to speak the truth to power.” (Marie Colvin).

Then she spoke about a number of female reporters who are involved in human rights and defend the innocent people, those journalists and reporters not only focus on social media but they also play a big role in Syrian crisis and in Egypt after Morsi imprisoned. They fight for freedom and human dignity. Just to mention a few names and quotes: “Lebanese women journalists Brave War odds” (Magada Abi-Fadel); Lamees El Hadidi in Egypt, Mona El-Tahawy Egypt, Tetyana Chernovil, Ukraine; Razan Zaitouneh, Syria; in a recorder video message: “I salute the thousands of men and women silently at the grassroots to achieve their freedom and justice.” 

Despite of the tragic event happened; nothing stopped Dr Chidiac from continuing to speak dangerously. She returned to her role of journalism, television and public life on 26 July 2006 after a ten month difficult recovery. She has established the May Chidiac Foundation and its Media Institute to sustain the development knowledge and foster the freedom of women’s voice and human rights. 

“I am proud that I have played a big role in media and will continue to fight against those who want to instil fear in all of us, to safeguard democracy, freedom and liberty: Dr May Chidiac concluded. 


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