BEIRUT, Lebanon – It sounds like a familiar scene: a protest somewhere in the Arab world, tear gas, people running, a woman screaming, other protesters gathered around her.
For people following the demonstrations in this region over the last four years, the incident, as the British MailOnline website tells it, sounds reminiscent of the mob sexual assaults in Egypt's Tahrir Square.
Except that it wasn’t. In fact, it’s pretty hard to see how anyone could have come to that conclusion after watching the video.
Nada Andraos Aziz, a reporter for Lebanese TV channel LBC, was covering recent protests in Beirut and got caught in the fray as police advanced on the crowd Saturday night. Protesters tried to help her by leading her away as police began to beat people with their batons.
MailOnline, the website of the UK's second-largest newspaper, reported that Aziz was “surrounded by a mob” and "attacked by protesters — it’s clear from the video that she got stuck in the middle as police moved to push back demonstrators. They also wrote that she was, “assaulted by the crowd who tear at her clothes “ — this part just didn’t happen, either in the video or by her own account.
"We were between the police and the demonstrators and then they started spraying water on us," Aziz told GlobalPost by phone, "They were trying to protect me, the protesters, a young man tried to protect me, my colleague tried to protect me. We are like that in Lebanon, we stick together."
"A publication should at least get my opinion if they are going to write about me," she added.
The MailOnline's inaccurate report was followed up by the Blaze.
The attack unfolded on live television as police began to shoot water canons and tear gas. You can hear Aziz screaming and her colleague asking, "Nada, are you still with us?" as she disappears into the crowd.
Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam vowed to punish security forces for an "excessive use of force" against protesters Saturday night.
"There were children, families, union leaders, doctors, women's rights activists there," said Aziz, "The same thing that happened to protesters that happened to the media," she said, referring to the tear gas and the water cannons.
The ongoing demonstrations were prompted by the government’s failure to pick up trash, and spun out of control as protesters clashed with police.
Since the initial trash protests — called "You Stink" by the organizers — demands have mushroomed and protesters are now calling for the fall of the regime, a new election law and an end to government corruption and incompetence, though numbers remain small.
Earlier this summer, mountains of trash in the streets all over Lebanon became a very visible (and smellable) symbol of corruption when the government closed Beirut's only landfill without alternative plans for waste disposal.
Meanwhile, all over Lebanon power cuts last anywhere from 3 to 12 hours a day, infrastructure is crumbling and many people have had enough.