The Danger of a “High Voltage” Defamation By Marlene Sabeh

Nero himself would be in shock at the deliberate threats communicated by a Kataeb supporter, in the light of the violent protests against the installation of high voltage power lines in Mansourieh. “Funny” wouldn’t be my first choice of terms; comicalis. To “burn” down a city—no, no—a whole country because the shirt of a Member of the Parliament was inadvertently touched, certainly iscomical. Unfortunately, the comedy did not stop here. With an audience consisting of demonstrators and Internal Security Forces personnel, other protestors decided to exploit the situation and insult the President of the Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, bellowing their “shameful shortcomings”. Just like that, a manageable issue suddenly became a war of (hateful) words, despicable attacks, and disgraceful threats, more “blazing” than the fire that consumed Rome over two thousand years ago. Burning down the very city you are trying to save from high voltage power lines? Maybe the logic behind this theory burned as well.

The truth is there is no solid evidence that these power lines could cause cancer. In a 2002 study conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, “there is inadequate evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of extremely low frequency magnetic fields in relation to all cancers” (Source). While it is unequivocally reasonable for Mansourieh residents to be apprehensive and request more information and clarifications about possible dangers, it is certainly not rational for certain factions to politicize the issue and incite internal violent disputes. Additionally, defaming the president and officials does not, under any circumstances, constitute freedom of speech, neither does it embody democracy. What happened is nothing but an impertinent attempt to instigate conflicts and coerce people to delve into unnecessary altercations.

Furthermore, Water and Energy Minister, Mrs. Nada Boustani, explained that the electricity plan was well researched and developed, meets all safety requirements, and poses no health hazards on Mansourieh residents. She continued to highlight that the possibility to install underground power lines was explored, but the risks and dangers were not negligible, asserting that above ground power lines are by far less dangerous. Needless to mention that the fumes emanating from burning Mansourieh (not to mention the “fiery” assaults) would be considerably more damaging than extremely low frequency magnetic fields.

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