| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Yasmine Masri vows to remain defiant after confronting Gebran Bassil

Yasmine Masri, a Lebanese woman has vowed to remain courageous after confronting the widely despised MP Gebran Bassil, although her father was obliged to apologize for her actions as she claimed.

On Sunday, a video has gone viral for Masri after scuffling with bodyguards working for the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), and heckled him with a cry of “shame on you.”

The brawl took place at a restaurant in Bassil’s home town of Batroun, northern Lebanon.

Masri said she was assaulted and had her phone broken by his security entourage but she told Arab News she was proud to confront Bassil. However, she said her father had been “forced to apologize” for her the bust up.

A photo of the MP and the 31-year-old woman’s father was published on Tuesday, in Lebanese media along with a story saying he met Bassil and apologized for his daughter’s behavior.

Masri was having lunch with friends in a newly-opened restaurant in Batroun when she saw Bassil and his entourage.

Speaking to Arab News, Masri said Bassil “forced her father to apologize under threat, blackmailing and shaming him.”

“I have received physical threats,” she said. “Just now, shortly before responding to this interview my mother called and asked me to stop; saying she doesn’t want to pick me up injured from a hospital.”

But Masri, who like many young Lebanese is broiling with anger over the country’s plight, vowed not to stop expressing herself.

The food and drink manager was angered that Bassil had the audacity to show up in public as if he had no responsibility for the country’s woes.

Recounting what happened, she felt within her rights to shout “shame on you” in Arabic.

She said Bassil sent his bodyguards over to her and they threatened to beat her.

“I told them go ahead and they started beating me … then I took back my phone and followed them and took a video. Then they beat me again and threw my phone on the floor and broke it,” she added.

Masri said FPM supporters followed her for up to four hours around Batroun after the clash and would not let her leave the area.

“Batroun’s supporters of FPM and Bassil were spitting at me, insulting me and threatening me all over the place,” she said.

Masri is and politically-independent civil society activist, who became active during widespread anti-government protests in October 2019.

When asked if she was going to tone down her criticism for her dad’s safety, she replied: “No, definitely not. I will not play the game as I don’t go with threats … and if they will go violent, they will lose.”

Bassil’s media office stated on Sunday that he and his family were about to leave in their car when a woman used foul language against him.

His entourage responded ‘naturally, peacefully and modernly” to stop her from cursing.

The statement said: “The era of leaving swearwords unanswered is over” and urged FPM supporters to “respond accordingly.”

After hearing the news of her father’s apology, Masri posted a statement saying: “I hereby confirm to you that I will never shut up … I will never hide what I think in the face of fear, threats and terrorism … my father was threatened … all he is doing is in order to protect me.”

  • Arab News