Drugs smuggling and cable piracy

‘After the Israeli withdrawal, Hezbollah apparently agreed to turn a blind eye to the smuggling operations in return for intelligence, such as maps and cell-phone networks. “Hezbollah is not directly involved in the drug business,” Goksel clarified. “This business is an old one in Lebanon, and whole families are involved in it and have been since way before Hezbollah existed.” In fact, Goksel said, “[Drug smuggling] operations have decreased substantially since then, but they did not stop.”’

Timur Goksel is interviewed on NowLebanon about the lucrative drug trade passing through Ghajar, the border village where the Israelis shot a Lebanese civilian this week and wounded another. The website also carries an article on the ‘institution’ of cable TV piracy in Lebanon, where for a fee of 10$, your local distributor will provide you with all the channels you want – depending on the the political and religious make-up of the neighbourhood in which you happen to live:

In Dahiyeh, channels that ordinarily broadcast traditional Arab and Islamic shows are popular. “In such areas, we will usually have no problem with adding channels that are not immoral,” Hassan said, in reference to pornographic channels. “Having cable TV is better [than a legal dish] in this sense, because at least the parents can call and demand that there be no indecent channels.” When asked about whether channels like Al-Hurra, a US-based and government-sponsored satellite channel, are broadcast in Dahiyeh, Hassan reiterated that, “It depends on demand…” Other areas of Beirut, such as Achrafieh or Ras Beirut, are more likely to have an abundance of French or European channels. Joseph Ghosn, a distributor based in Achrafieh, said that although he responds to demands, there are standard stations that are always a part of his 100-channel analog – mainly local, regional and international news channels. Channels are then shuffled, depending on availability and the number of people who make requests. (…) After midnight, on TV sets across parts of Achrafieh, ‘Chasse et Pèche’, a French hunting and fishing channel, suddenly turns into the XXL hardcore porn station. On Sundays, however, the local cable distributor does not make the radical switch until much later, presumably out of reverence for the holy day of rest.

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