May Chidiac | 2006 Courage in Journalism Award

Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, Lebanon.

In September 2005, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation journalist lost her left hand and left leg as a result of a bomb exploding under the driver’s seat of her car. She believes the attack came as a result of her criticism of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon.

According to reports obtained by the Committee to Protect Journalists, half a kilogram of explosives was placed in Chidiac’s Range Rover. The explosion blew off the driver-side door, which was recovered more than 30 feet away from Chidiac’s car.

Chidiac, 43, had just hosted a show addressing Syria’s possible involvement in former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination and the fears of violence ahead because of the UN report about the investigation.

Following the attack, Chidiac spent several months in France recovering from her injuries. She had previously hosted Nharkom Said (Good Day), an LBC program broadcast every Sunday covering subjects such as politics, theater and culture. On July 11, the day before the Israeli assault on Lebanon began, Chidiac returned to Lebanon to resume her broadcasting career. She started working again on July 19 at LBC, where she hosts a current events program called Bikol Joraa (With Audacity) every Tuesday.

“I gave my country a hand to fight with, and a leg to kick all the enemies with, and they are not few. “, commented Chidiac her injuries in her acceptance speech for the Courage in Journalism Award.

Despite the violence and ongoing turmoil in her country, Chidiac is known for her upbeat attitude. She began her journalism career at the Voice of Lebanon radio station while studying journalism at the Lebanese University. After a three-year stint with Voice of Lebanon, Chidiac began working for the LBC in 1985.

“In journalism, courage means to speak loudly, to take risks. But in Lebanon , and especially since 2005 it means to get killed in an awful way[…], or to be forced to live with prothesis or on a wheel chair, as what has occurred for me.” she said.

In October 1990, the Syrian occupation of Lebanon drove the head of the interim government, General Michel Aoun, into exile in Paris. Chidiac moved to Switzerland that year and worked at the Lebanese embassy. She returned to Lebanon at the end of 1991.

Chidiac, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from the Lebanese University, has taught at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and plans to return in October to teach a course in broadcasting and news operation.

In January, Chidiac announced her intention to run for a parliamentary seat left vacant by Maronite legislator Edmond Naim’s death. She later decided against entering the election due to her rehabilitation and to avoid the divisive campaign.

Chidiac was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in May 2006.

She was born July 20, 1963 in Beirut, Lebanon.

May Chidiac is the first Courage in Journalism Award winner from Lebanon.

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