Lebanon's Daily Star publishes 'no news' protest edition

Each page of The Daily Star's Thursday edition bore a single phrase relating to a problem facing the country.

    Lebanon's Daily Star publishes 'no news' protest edition
    The government is entering it second month of lockdown over a controversial shooting [Joseph Eid/AFP]

    Lebanon's only English-language daily "refrained from publishing news articles in its print edition" to protest against the country's deteriorating economic and political condition.

    Every page of The Daily Star's Thursday edition bore a single phrase relating to a problem facing the country, including a government deadlock, rising public debt and increasing sectarian rhetoric.

    Unemployment, the presence of illegal weapons and high pollution levels were also highlighted. 

    The back page had a photo of a cedar tree, a national symbol, with a caption reading: "Wake up before it's too late!"

    "Despite the worsening political, economic, financial and social problems, there is still time to save the country," The Daily Star said on its website. "This requires a collaborative effort from all sides and sacrificing for the good of the country."

    Nadim Ladki, its editor-in-chief, told DPA news agency that they are "calling on politicians and everyone to pull together because there is still time to save the country".

    "We just want to sound the alarm bell over the challenges that are facing the country that need to be tackled," said Ladki.

    The publication did not respond to requests for comment by Al Jazeera at the time of publishing.

    The Daily Star is a private newspaper owned by the family of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.

    The move was criticised by some social media users, who pointed out the newspaper's link to the Hariri political dynasty.

    In October last year, the country's oldest newspaper, An-Nahar, printed an entirely blank issue to protest against a political deadlock over forming a cabinet.

    Lebanon has been in the grip of an economic crisis for months. The country's national debt is hovering close to $85bn - or 150 percent of the GDP - with an internal report on the country's financial classification expected later this month. 

    On Saturday, Lebanese Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said at an economic conference that any talk of the country being bankrupt was "unjustified".

    Lebanon's government has not met since a June 30 shooting in a mountain village near the capital, Beirut, that escalated tensions between the Christian and Druze communities. 

    The shooting occurred when the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, visited the site of the massacre between Christians and Druze during Lebanon's civil war. 

    Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) supporters staged a protest in an attempt to prevent the visit and shots were fired as Saleh al-Gharib, the government minister handling refugee issues, arrived, killing two of his aides.

    Al-Gharib is a member of a PSP rival party allied with Hezbollah and supportive of the Syrian government, and has close ties with pro-Syrian Druze leader Talal Arslan. 

    The PSP said in a statement that al-Gharib's guards had opened fire "randomly" and wounded a PSP supporter.

    On Wednesday, the United States and the United Kingdom warned against escalating sectarianism in the country.

    Meanwhile, the UK ambassador to Lebanon, Chris Rampling, said the country's stability was a "priority" and urged "everyone to focus on economic development at this stage" during a visit to Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies