Friday, March 17, 2006
Crawling away from wreckage with hair ablaze
I am based in Beirut, Lebanon, better known to Americans as the terror capital of the world in the 1980s for its rampant lawlessness and kidnappings. Thankfully, the civil war that lasted some fifteen barbarous years ended in 1991. But Lebanon is still a dangerous place.

A series of mysterious bombs have killed or maimed several politicians and journalists I knew well, none more so than a remarkable and courageous woman named May Chidiac, a fearless Maronite Catholic journalist who I came to admire during the war years.

Back then, May was a field reporter for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. In recent years, she has come to be known throughout the Middle East as a kind of Barbara Walters. She is fiercely independent and has made many enemies through her opinionated commentary and TV news reports.

Her last broadcast came six months ago when she poured scorn on Lebanon's powerful neighbor, Syria. Her televised discussion focused on alleged Syrian involvement in a series of assassinations in Lebanon. A few hours later, May was blown up by a bomb attached to the underside of her SUV.

She was sliced to shreds, somehow crawling way from the wreckage with her hair ablaze.

"I saw my hand attached to my arm with a small piece of skin," she told me. "But I hoped that they could save my hand." In fact, she lost her hand and half of her arm as well as most of her left leg. She was also covered in terrible burns and her body was peppered by shrapnel wounds.

For months, my friend and respected colleague has been subjected to grueling physical therapy at a special rehabilitation center near Paris. For tonight's show, we talked about how she survived the bomb attack and her valiant effort to eventually return to the screen to tell stories that matter.
Posted By Brent Sadler, CNN Correspondent: 2:51 PM ET
I'm very sorry to hear about that. I hope that she continues to recover, and then cover(news stories). She sounds like a strong woman, one that doesn't let anything stop her. We need more like her in this world.
Posted By Anonymous Brennnan Monaco, Florida : 3:57 PM ET
Journalists are so BRAVE God Bless the journalists, without them we are a bunch of ignorants
Posted By Anonymous Claudia, Guatemala City : 4:06 PM ET
Good for her for not giving up. It's important that freedom of speech be available to everyone around the world. Someone has to keep fighting in order for it to become a right in countries like this.
Posted By Anonymous JBrown NS Canada : 4:07 PM ET
The courage and determination of journalists like May and others never ceases to amaze me.I'm grateful that there are people like her and you out there telling us stories that matter despite the risks. We need to hear them.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Durham NC : 4:13 PM ET
That is such an upsetting story, and unfortunately, journalists being injured or killed is not uncommon any more.

Thank you to you, to Ms. Chidiac, and journalists all over the world who risk their lives to tell us what's really going on in the world.

(I hope you all get hazard pay.)
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 4:14 PM ET
May is an incredible woman! She goes on my prayer list - not only for healing, but for faithfulness and continued courage to continue to tell the truth.
Posted By Anonymous Claudia, Carol Stream, IL : 4:17 PM ET
As a Lebanese living in the United States,I have always admired May with what she beleived in is a Free Lebanon. Unfortunatly she lost her left arm and leg because of her free speech. We deserve a Free Lebanon, we have the right to have free speech. Thank you Brent for covering the stories from Beirut-Lebanon, I will be watching tonight's show.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy, Chicago, IL : 4:18 PM ET
Something more than her arm and leg were lost in that blast. Perhaps the only voice, like a beacon, which motivates the people to progress towards a free society was silenced. Its certainly a problem of the region and the pioneers such as May do well to illustrate, and then sacrifice themselves in hopes to enrich the oppressed peoples of these Southwestern Asian countries.

The Lebanese and Syrian governments were in cooperation with each other, in a dominant/submissive role with their religion playing the resistance card against the Western civil rights campaigns. So we, the free world find ourselves entrenched in a war of attrition and all too often, senseless bloodshed.

The common American may ask "why?" The answer is really more of a question. "Why are the rich of these countries really rich?" Likewise it is wise to ask "Why are the poor of these countries so poor?" Why is there no middle class like there is in developed countries. Through barbaric acts such as contained in this story they have instilled fear for all those who would oppose them. Thus, the rich get richer while the poor delve deeper in poverty.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Oklahoma City, OK : 4:37 PM ET
May is obviously a very courageous and strong willed women. God Bless her for her determination and convictions. I will be praying for her continued strength and courage!
Posted By Anonymous Kelly Jo Parkersburg, W.V. : 4:42 PM ET
God bless May... God bless all our brave journalists and a special God Bless to you... You keep reminding us that there is so much going on in the world, terrible henious crimes, and also people like May fighting all the injustices... Continue to keep us informed and continue to remind us we can't live with our head in the sand...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Strickland, Sarasota, Florida : 4:49 PM ET
Posted By Anonymous AMY W. FORT DEFIANCE,VA : 5:00 PM ET
I am a lebanese student living in the states and would like to post these few words, quoting the "living martyr" as Ms May Chidiac is refered to in Lebanon. On her first TV appearance after the horrific assasination attempt, she said "It is possible that the FREEDOM of Lebanon required my hand and my leg...that's alright". God be with you May!
Posted By Anonymous Gabriel Boustani, Boston, MA : 5:01 PM ET
What a horrible thing to happen to Miss Chidiac. What a horrible price to pay for doing her best to spread the truth. I can't imagine what she must be going through, but I hope that she does not have any doubts, that her faith in her choices and her courage carries her through. She is an inspiration to us all.
Posted By Anonymous Teresa, Atlanta GA : 5:01 PM ET
May.. You were born great, you can't help it!
Come back. I know you will.
Bring back your daily dose of fearlessness over the airwaves.
They won't admit it but My God! How much startker can cowardice be!
Posted By Anonymous Abdo Saad, New York, NY : 5:42 PM ET
It amazes me to think that in America we take for granted so much of what we say and what we can say freely. So often our televisions are filled with people who have nothing of value to say or who spend their time bashing one another. This woman, and I'm sure many other journalists like her, risk their lives to tell the stories that really matter. I hope that in America we can come to appreciate the freedoms we have and learn to listen to the people who truly have something to say.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, Lancaster, PA : 5:43 PM ET
I admire the reporting of May Chidiac, but I'm not sure I would have the courage to go back to that area of the world. What is it that draws you to such a place? Is it the story or the danger itself??
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 6:11 PM ET
May is living proof that freedom isn't free. Many pay a dear price for it. Wishing her continued speedy recovery and return to the work she loves.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Western Nevada : 7:31 PM ET
What about all of the soldiers that lose life and limb?
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Meridian, MS : 7:43 PM ET
Anyone who would attack a woman is a coward in everyones eye's. when these terrorist attack they hide their faces...again cowards
If your going to sit there and say you do this for "ALAH" then be man or womwn enough to show your face, scream Jihad all you want it doest change the fact that your just like a child who breaks a window and runs away!
Posted By Anonymous Angel spring hill florida : 8:54 PM ET
Knowing very well how dangerous their anti-Syrian comments were, my jaw dropped every time I heard May and other journalists make them. This is to say that their bravery had been absolutely premeditated. Also astounding is how their collegues continue on the same path.
never back down!
Posted By Anonymous Tarek, Boston MA : 9:41 PM ET
What a lady and a journalist!God Bless you May! As an American Lebanese Maronite Catholic I have heard many stories of how so many Lebanese have suffered for freedom. All they want is to regain what they once be a beacon of light and hope in the Middle East.

Teresa, Yorktown Virginia
Posted By Anonymous Teresa, Yorktown Virginia : 9:50 PM ET
what a hero, thanks for your hard work and get well, God Bless
Posted By Anonymous BJ Rivera San Antonio, TX : 9:56 PM ET
what a horriffic story, yet one ultimately of deep courage and strength. i am continually amazed at the selfless determination of journalists such as may, who risk everything in pursuit of the truth. i wish her and other injured journalists full recoveries and extend my deepest thanks to them all.
Posted By Anonymous frank lyons ayer, ma : 10:02 PM ET
Reporters risk so much to bring us news, and I for one very much appreciate their work and dedication. May is a very brave and inspirational person, and I hope she makes a great comeback.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 10:10 PM ET
I look at my silly little life while reading this story and I'm in awe that May Chidiac and I share the same planet. Someone show me how I can make a stand that matters. I see and read about so many attrocities and injustices and I have no avenue in which to vent my outrage. Suggestions welcomed.
Posted By Anonymous M. Stone Ancram, NY : 10:20 PM ET
to all the journalists out there:
"the world is indebted to you!"
wishing u a speedy recovery May..:)
Posted By Anonymous Nikhil Abraham,Madras,India : 10:38 PM ET
In a world were fear and insecurity drives the human spirit to do wicked acts, someone who is driven by principle, conscience, and faith is a light of hope for all of us and an example to her peers.
Posted By Anonymous David Cuff, Encino, California : 10:44 PM ET
I have never heard of this lady, but I admire her courage in spreading the word about the Syrian government and their complicity in all the political murders in Lebanon. The Syrian government is able to lie to their own people through their state controlled media, but the rest of the world knows that Bashir Assad and his cohorts are just carrying on the murderous methods of his father. He is just another ignorant clown. Unfortunately, the Lebanese are the subjects of his circus.
Posted By Anonymous Chris Eliason, Mililani Hawaii : 11:24 PM ET
Unbelievable cowards...doing this to this wonderful lady. Shame on them - they will give an account for this. I pray for her and I implore Americans to understand the type of mindset that has developed in these lawless countries. This is our battle - we must steady the course and fight these barbaric acts that try to govern these people by fear and intimidation. Don't let this womans actions and steadfastness fall on deaf ears!
Posted By Anonymous J. Coglizer, Baton Rouge, Louisiana : 1:09 AM ET
I'm glad you bring this up, Mr. Sadler, and my prayers are with you and dear May. I used to live in Yemen and traveled the Middle East extensively. When we flew into Beruit, we were required to pull the shades and not even look out the window until we had landed. One of my friends was kidnapped out of Yemen. Another friend, who moved from the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen to Tehran, was one of the 52 hostages taken there. Your post here reminds me, and I hope many others, that terrorism was all too real for so many people long before 9/11/2001.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, Hermosillo, Mexico : 2:43 AM ET
May Has been an inspiration to all of Lebanon let alone the millions of LBC viewers, we sat mesmerized following her ordeal and praying for her recovery. We're all waiting for her return because it is people like May who helped Lebanon regain it's true independance.
Posted By Anonymous Imad Hallak Beirut, Lebanon : 6:06 AM ET
Those who tried to kill May mush have spent ages trying to convince everyone that she was wrong. That bomb has now vindicated everything she has said. She is right. They are wrong. The bastards!
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Sydney, Australia : 8:06 AM ET
A sobering reminder of the freedoms we enjoy in our country so insulated from fear of reprisal for what we say and how we feel. It also reminds us of the courage and bravery that journalists must muster when stepping away from our soil.
Posted By Anonymous David Eskenazy, Seattle, WA : 8:07 AM ET
That's amazing. I'm sorry to hear that May had to suffer so much pain , but it really made a hero out of her. I am a future journalist and she is definitely on my list of role models.
Posted By Anonymous Zeena A , Dallas, TX : 9:03 AM ET
Our prayers and love to you, May for your courage. We will pray for your continued healing.
Posted By Anonymous Blanca, Redemptoristine Monastery, Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada : 8:44 PM ET
I read today that May will be returning to her job very soon. The source is the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star where May is quoted, "If I don't continue my work as a journalist, it means that they have won the battle and that's what I cannot accept."
Posted By Anonymous Sal, Troy, MI : 7:23 PM ET
Thank you, it's these kinds of stories that should be shown regularly on the news! I am curious about the world and concerned about those dark corners where intimidation and abuse are the norm.

It's frustrating that many shows seem to focus on just a couple of stories at a time, speculating at the expense of other issues. Life in other parts of the country and the world doesn't grind to a halt just because of one or two particular events, so the media should spread air time fairly at all times.

When the war in Iraq first started, I got impatient after a while because it was pretty much all you saw on the news. I'll bet certain leaders around the world had a party after the war started. As I recall, the British and American governments were critisized on one or two occasions for deliberately taking advantage of big news days to release information that would otherwise have raised eyebrows had the media not been so focused on the war - so what did tyrants and dictators get up to?

I watched a news programme recently where part of the team reported from Iran for the week, airing interviews and reports (in between other news stories) about life there. When those journalists were prevented from researching and reporting on something from within Iran, they simply had their London office do research and file a report. A couple of weeks ago, I read an article (in a fashion magazine of all things) about life after the Tsunami: many women in Sri Lanka are struggling because apparently more women and children than men were killed during the Tsunami, so the women that are left are under pressure to marry - there are lots of men who want companionship and help with their kids.

You see few of these kinds of stories/perspectives on mainstream TV news. I really wish the media would be more intersting and use initiative - be more pro-active than reactive.

We saw what happened 20 years ago when a British news story about famine in Ethiopia caught Bob Geldof's attention - it led to a worldwide cause. If we're not informed, we can't do much to make a difference.

P.S. What would happen if all Journalists had to complete their studies or training by taking an oath and pledging to "tell the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth" - a journalistic Hyppocratic Oath, if you will? Would the general standard of journalism improve? Would tabloids legally exist?
Posted By Anonymous Nikky, London, UK : 7:04 AM ET
Anyone who reads this, please take note that May was doing her job and keeping us informed, that says so much to what she was reporting, why she could report, because we are a free nation under God, indivisible, GOD BLESS HER and all those like her!!!
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, St. Charles, MO : 1:38 PM ET
Very very sad story about Ms. Chidiac.
The phrase, "The Pen is Mighty then the sword" should be revised to something like; "IF you criticize countries that support and sponsor terror you risk death." Although this is a terrible tragedy the lawlessnes that exists in seemingly every MUSLIM country should be a warning to any aspiring journalist that they indeed take their life in their own hands when they engage truthful reporting.
Posted By Anonymous Matthew de Leon, Washington, DC : 2:08 PM ET
Why must people put themselves into those situations. If you go into a warzone, you are going to get injured or killed. Let those monsters kill each other and stay home in the US where you belong.
Posted By Anonymous Dee, New York City : 2:41 PM ET
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