Geneva, 26 September 2023 – The United Nations Human Rights Council, in its 54th Regular Session held today, heard a riveting speech from Omar Harfouch, a renowned Lebanese pianist, during its 24th meeting.
Born a Sunni Muslim, Harfouch was educated in a Christian school, a reflection of the religious diversity that Lebanon is known for. However, his presence at the council wasn’t primarily for his musical talents but to shed light on a pressing issue he faces in his homeland.
The pianist revealed he’s facing persecution by the Lebanese government because of his opinions and interactions. He highlighted the charges against him by the Lebanese military court, emphasizing the threat of the death penalty for merely being in the same room as an American-Israeli journalist and delivering a speech at the European Parliament.
His accusations against the Lebanese government were profound and were transmitted through UN Web TV. Harfouch candidly expressed, “Lebanon is an anti-Semitic, discriminatory, and racist country.” He called on the international community, especially the attendees at the United Nations Human Rights Council, to challenge Lebanon’s stringent policies that restrict freedom of expression and association.
In a poignant moment, Harfouch addressed the attendees, questioning if there were any Jews, Israelis, Zionists, or pro-Israelis present. He emphasized that, according to Lebanese law, he would need to discriminate against them. “Which I refuse to do,” he passionately stated. He underscored that no one should be judged based on birth, religion, or nationality, urging the council’s members to support his plea to abolish the “racist and discriminatory law.”
The speech garnered widespread attention, with many ambassadors and human rights advocates expressing their concern about the allegations and showing solidarity with Harfouch.
The 54th Session of the Human Rights Council continues, with more statements from representatives and discussions on various global human rights issues. The international community awaits further reactions and potential resolutions in light of Harfouch’s compelling address.