Lebanese TV debate about Syria turns into a brawl


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REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Pens, paper and a glass of water flew through the air as a heated debate between two Lebanese officials on the crisis in neighboring Syria turned physical during a live television talk show.

At one point, it looked like a chair would be next (video below).

The fireworks erupted Monday night on the ‘Bi Mawdouiya’ program, which airs on MTV Lebanon. It featured Mustafa Alloush, from the pro-Western Future Movement, and Fayez Shukr, representing the Baath Arab Socialist Party in Lebanon, which is linked to the Baath Party of Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Alloush declared that he considers Assad a ‘liar’ and doesn’t believe what the president says. An outraged Shukr shot back: ‘You are a liar and your master is a liar.’ Alloush told his fellow guest to shut up. It was getting personal.

A little background: Lebanon’s political landscape is sharply divided between the pro-Syrian March 8 coalition, led by the militant group Hezbollah, and the pro-Western March 14 camp. The Syrian military no longer occupies Lebanon, but Damascus’ influence reaches deep into the Lebanese body politic. The heated TV debate was indicative of the mixed passions about Syria and its current crisis.

During the live broadcast, the two began to hurl curses at each other across the table. Shukr tossed a water glass at Alloush. Viewers then saw a hail of what appeared to be pens and pieces of papers flying across the screen.

The two political rivals rose from their seats and one of them picked up a chair, prompting host Walid Abboud and the MTV stage crew to intervene to head off what appeared to be a looming chair-fight.

The show reportedly went off air for a while before resuming -- without further incident.


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-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut