Al Jazeera Journalist Compares Israeli, Syrian Jails, Sparking Facebook Debate

Talk show host Faisal al-Qasim juxtaposes photo of a rotund Samir Kuntar leaving an Israeli jail in 2008 and an inmate in Bashar Assad's prison system.

A split-image from Faisal al-Qasim's Facebook page showing an emaciated Syrian prisoner, left, and a plump Samir Kuntar leaving an Israeli jail in 2008 on the right.
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An Arab journalist juxtaposed a photo of a well-fed Samir Kuntar leaving an Israeli prison with an emaciated inmate of Syrian leader Bashar Assad's regime on Facebook on Sunday, sparking a flurry of reactions from around the Arab-speaking world, including some positive words for Israel.

"While Samir Kuntar cames out from Israeli jail with a paunch and a Ph.D., this is what Syrians from Al-Assad's prisons look like," Faisal al-Qasim posted on Facebook, referring to the 2008 release of the Hezbollah fighter who was assassinated on Saturday night in a Damascus suburb.

The post has since garnered over 108,500 likes,19,300 shares and a myriad of comments.

While the huge number of likes indicate support for his statement, many of the comments defended Kuntar as a martyr and praised him for his resistance against Israel.

Still, some readers sounded more sympathetic to Israel.

"We believe that Israel's prisons are the worst prisons in the universe, but we knew that after the Spring, Israel is more merciful than all Arab regimes," read one comment on Tuesday.

Another Facebook user had a different interpretation of al-Qasim's post. "It is not intended to praise Israel so much as about ill-intended Bashar and his hatred of his people."

A different user accused al-Qasim of "defending the Israeli occupation."

Al-Qasim, a popular talk show host on Al Jazeera, has over 8.7 million followers in Facebook.