About a month after he wrote a trending investigation into Hezbollah's warehouses, where Ammonium Nitrate have been stored, family and friends of a Lebanese journalist reported that he had been missing for a few days. Thus causing social media activists to start a hashtag with his name, calling for his freedom, after fearing that he has been abducted by Hezbollah. However, he showed up to the same protest that was organized in solidarity with him, stirring many controversial questions over what had happened to him.
Lebanese journalist Rabih Tlais has been missing for a few days. A month ago he published images/video showing Ammonium Nitrate at an alleged Hezbollah missile factory (links below). #وينه_ربيع_طليس #ربيع_طليس #كلنا_ربيع_طليس #Rabih_Tlais pic.twitter.com/l8KcP2SX68— Anthony B. Kantara (@AnthonyKantara) December 21, 2020
The absence of Rabih Tlais, a Lebanese journalist, who belongs to the same social and religious background as that of Hezbollah, was feared to be abducted by the strong militant group after his investigation into the militia's warehouses storing the same chemical component that caused the devastating Beirut blast last August, in which he refuted Hezbollah's repeated claims of not posing any threats to Lebanese lives.
Tlais is known for his vocal critic of Hezbollah and Iranian-backed politicians in Lebanon and had previously expressed his concern over his own safety to his family and friends.
#Lebanon anti-Hezbollah activist/journalist @rabihtlais has been missing since Thursday/Friday.— Timour Azhari (@timourazhari) December 21, 2020
Tlais said in a recent video he feared he’d be framed over his work. People close to him say he spoke of a "big" issue he was in before he disappeared
No comment from authorities yet pic.twitter.com/KFtha3osCY
UPDATE: I received this picture showing Rabih Tlais at Adliye (Justice palace) this morning where a protest to ask about his whereabouts was organized.— Luna Safwan - لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) December 21, 2020
I am told, "he just showed up with no explanation". Awaiting for more details & to hear from him about what happened. pic.twitter.com/3sq2hhDy2R
As soon as Lebanese journalists and online activists learned that Tlais was missing a few days ago, they assumed that he has been kidnapped by Hezbollah and called for a protest near the Palais de Justice in Beirut to pressure whoever is hiding him to set him free.
Unacceptable and irresponsible behavior by Rabih Tlais, journalist, who basically kidnapped himself, lied about his whereabouts, and then went on a live video tonight to explain that he was simply 'taking a break clearing his head'. His story does not add up. pic.twitter.com/L8RIO1FmT3— Luna Safwan - لونا صفوان (@LunaSafwan) December 21, 2020
Yet, Tlais bizarrely showed up during the protest shocking everyone, before saying that he "was hiding for a few days to unwind and chose to not use social media."
His surprising appearance and unusual excuse, which he repeated later during a live Facebook video, sparked many online memes amid a sense of anger amongst social media users, as some of them accused him of orchestrating a media stunt, while others expressed their fear that he might have been conditionally released on the basis that he makes up an excuse that doesn't involve Hezbollah.
Rabih Tlais is Ross planning his funeral to see who would come pic.twitter.com/tVJ6uRrqRa— أني علي (@Ali18Haidar) December 21, 2020
Rabih Tlais attending a protest made to free Rabih Tlais pic.twitter.com/gNCnptWvCn— ج (@impeachjad) December 21, 2020
Meanwhile, Lebanese social media continues to highlight raising concerns of a wave of violence against voices that are calling for thorough investigations into the Beirut port blast that killed more than 100 people last August and destroyed several neighborhoods in the capital city.
The murder of Joseph Bejjani took place this morning in front of his house in Kahala, Aley while he was getting ready to drive his children to school. #الكحالة #murder #lebanon #lebanontimes @ALJADEEDNEWS @LBCI_NEWS @Lebanon24 @lebanonnews @polleksandra @Politicalpen1 pic.twitter.com/aWaqRSfv3d— janahassoun (@janahassoun1) December 21, 2020
Yesterday, local media reported the killing of an ex-army photographer, who was gunned down using a silenced pistol outside of his home near Kahaleh in Aley. Reports are pointing at the possibility that Joseph Bejjani was recently working on a filming project near the still-damaged Beirut port.
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