Lebanon: Two stand-up comedians detained for breaching public morality

This was reported by al-Akhbar newspaper on 24 April 2012.

Edmond Haddad, known for his role on al-Jadeed television’s Chi.N.N. comedy show, and Rawiya al-Shab, who is a theatre and film actress, were detained for a stand-up show they presented in 2009 at a pub in Gemmayzeh.

A local media outlet was covering the event and reported that their act had violated public morals when the comedians acted out a public auction in which men were auctioned off as a joke. During the sketch, Haddad also reportedly showed some of his underwear, much to the disappointment of the unnamed media outlet.

The Beirut judge in charge of the case has held Haddad and al-Shab on charges of breaching public morals based solely on the newspaper article that initially made the complaint, said al-Akhbar.
The judge did not even consider viewing a dvd recording of the comedy show.

Nizar Sarkis, Haddad and al-Shab’s lawyer, condemned the charges, likening them to oppression. He told al-Akhbar that various ads and television comedy shows have committed greater offenses than the one that was allegedly made by the two comics. He attributed the case to the spread of religious extremism in Lebanon and the region.

A hearing in their case was scheduled for 25 April 2012, but the proceedings were then adjourned to 30 May 2012. If convicted Haddad and al-Shab face a month in prison and a fine of LL 200,000.

A facebook page condemning the case has been created on:

Support Lebanese Comedians Rawya Al Chab and Edmond Haddad claim back their Freedom of Speech!

We’re going to Jail, Stay tuned!

On November 30, 2011, Comedian Edmond Haddad and Actress Rawya Al Chab were sentenced to serve one month in jail. In the name of the Lebanese people, the sentence was based on Article 532 of the penal code.

It referred to an opinion press article published days after Rawya, Edmond and many friends hosted a charitable comedy night on December 23, 2009. Their “crime” using on stage “indecent” “humor” “terminology” and “gestures”.

The Money collected was donated to the Brave Heart Fund.

Today, Rawya and Edmond face their Appeal hearing in order to claim back their freedom of speech!

Because Comedy is not a crime.
Because Justice was based on tabloids’ reports.
Because We do not live under Taliban yet.

Prison might be fun, but it’s a matter of principle… We count on YOU to spread the word; to friends, colleagues, neighbors… Join us and show your support at Court: Wednesday April 25, 2012 at the Beirut Justice Palace (Adlieh) at 9:00 AM.

*Bring your boxers; we will sign them for you.

نيسان الساعة التاسعة جلسة الإستئناف في قضية الإخلال بالآداب العامة والحض على الفجور بحق راوية الشاب وإدمون حداد بسبب عمل ستاند آب كوميدي لجمع التبرّعات صنّفه قاضي المحكمة الإبتدائية خارج عن “المألوف إجتماعياً” تضمّن ” حديث شديد الإبتذال” وإظهار المدّعى عليه إدمون حداد لكلسونه على المسرح. الحكم الأوّلي: شهر حبس و200 ألف ليرة غرامة. يرجى حضوركم الجلسة ونشر الخبر.

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