Monday, 21 May 2012

The future is a forgotten past


As I write this tension in Lebanon is reaching boiling point. I spent the entire night reading tweets and updates from various people in Lebanon about the situation and "what they think".


I read a lot about peace and restraint. I saw tweets about people who will not allow the situation to deteriorate. However among the clatter I read some disturbing things from influential bloggers/activists who are almost insulting some groups in Lebanon be it March 8 or 14, politicians and people. I cannot understand why the influencers are doing such tedious acts. Why are they not trying to calm everything instead of mixing up with the clatter. I have read a lot since the incident started on Sunday and although I do support some in Lebanon more than others, I have decided not to write about who is right or wrong, who fucked up or who did not.


I have decided to give you a factual post about what is going on and why things have escalated so rapidly and always seem to do in Lebanon.


Lets begin with the arrest of Al-Mawlawi by internal security forces for alleged links to a terrorist-organisation. Fair enough all seems well so far. They arrested him on suspicion and the investigation is ongoing. However his friends reacted differently and felt it was unjust, so they decided to ignite the situation and fight with rivals. So this is basically what happened before the weekend.

Then on Sunday, Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed who was in route to an anti-Syrian protest was killed at a Lebanese checkpoint along with a bodyguard. This obviously fueled the fire even more and the events on Sunday night were a result of this. 


So I think I have summarized what happened this week in Lebanon, now to analyze the situation. Keep in mind my analysis has nothing to do with the events that transpired, Lebanon's problems are not because of one or two sporadic events, rather a continuation effect. What I mean here is that Lebanon has always had a 'laissez-faire" approach when dealing with internal strife.


Lebanon has never recovered from the Civil war and some might state, with just cause, that Lebanon is still in a state of civil war. Granted it does not feel like an all out war however neighborhoods are still clearly marked, political parties (who fought) still can be seen legally participating. The root of all our problems is not because of some incident or some murder, it is much larger than that. We as Lebanese, taboo a topic instead of talking about it openly and getting over it collectively. After the civil war, many parties and groups felt injustice towards them; many who had served Lebanon in defense of the P.L.O. were thrown in jail and chastised by society forcing them to immigrate elsewhere. 

So what do we have here, we have certain groups feeling injustice, others fleeing for their lives and to top it all of, an unspoken civil war. Only a hand full was held accountable for murder and other crimes. How can a 15-year war only wield a handful to blame? This is mind boggles me however in the spirit of this post I must move on. 


What happened this week in Lebanon, and what happens every time there is an incident is that one group or party was favored above another. A recipe for disaster if they’re ever was one. And who is fueling all this, granted the politicians are not helping, however the true fuel is coming from Lebanese people. Lebanese people who directly jump to conclusions and attack the other party. Without the mere knowledge that who you support, Aoun, Hizb, Amal, Kataeb, Future, LF and other too many to name, or what religion you are from; Sunni, Shiah, Christian or Druze, will not save you from the destruction that will befall all of us.


I have read tweets calling people idiots, or shutting up others, I have seen discussions and comments get so out of hand that if those arguing were in the same room a fight would break out. The point here I am trying to make is that we need to get over this need to blame the others, to look inwards first, ask yourself; what am I doing that his harming Lebanon? And then a find a way to fix that.


Every party in Lebanon feels injustice, if March 14 are in Gov then March 8 feel injustice, and vice versa. Since the civil war, no one in Lebanon has felt equal to everyone else. And this reader is the root of all-evil. As Lebanese we are all equal in Lebanon, we should all have the same rights and security from the Government. How many of you feel that security? How many of you feel equal to all Lebanese. 


You see our problem is not our government or our army or our politicians. This problem is deeply rooted within ourselves. We all feel injustice at some point, some more than others yet we all feel it. And who could blame us, no accountability, no one ever being brought to justice and a "laissez-Passez" attitude when things happen has burdened every Lebanese with a sense of Injustice. 


The only remedy here is to hold people (and I mean anyone) who breaks the law or causes chaos accountable no matter what. But hold all accountable equally with no preference to anyone. Once we can achieve that then our problems are almost over.


Until then please I beg you to stop attacking different parties or political figures online or offline, call for calm instead and try to silence those around you who are calling for arms and insulting others. 


As for the influential people in Lebanon, you above all have a duty to stop insulting one party or the other, you are the intellectuals of Lebanon who with your words influence people so start acting like it and stop insulting people. 


This post is long but much had to be said, I could not stand idle while an all out comment/tweet/arms is going on. 

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Another Armed Conflict....again



The army is being deployed in Tripoli, Northern Lebanon this morning. Clashes between Alawites (Pro-Bashar) and Sunnis (anti-Bashar) broke out late last night and has continued through out the day. 

As i write this the clashes are still ongoing in Tripoli between the two part...political par....group....militias yes i think i will stick with militias. 




A militia is defined as any armed group operating outside the Governments elected bodies. In other words, a bunch of people with guns who answer to some ideological "leader". This is exactly what is going on in Tripoli right now, two militias, both with completely opposite ideologies are going at it. 

However i do not blame them, how can a government claim to be legitimate when they are not sovereign over their own territory? How can armed groups even allowed to exist? Granted Lebanon is a democracy and all that equality liberal crap, yet please show me where it says in our constitution that citizens and non-citizens are allowed to bear arms and engage in skirmishes whenever they see fit. 


I blame the government (be it March 8 or March 14), they are both equally responsible since none of them took any steps to quell such events. No new laws were introduced against owning heave weapons, the National Army is not being strengthened, the Police is still as corrupt as the Civil War era. 

Armed Man taking up position
Running for Cover
How can we as Lebanese expect to grow as a people and as an individual. Looking at the pictures from todays events, reminds me of Nahr El Bared where Islamists took it upon themselves to attack the Lebanese Army. What happened, a few were killed while others were jailed (later escaped). Yet nothing was done to avoid such events re-occurring and then you have what happened today, armed groups going at it and disregarding the National Army and National Laws. 

To re-cap, idiots fighting among each other in Tripoli, Lebanese Army unable to quell the fighting, Politicians accusing each other but doing nothing productive, most Lebanese think this is normal and will blow over, most expats think war has broken out again (due to media and citizens exaggerations). Enjoy the few photos i was able to get courtesy of @jeanassy. 


So today i will offer something new, unbecoming of me, i will try to help our Government. I will demonstrate through a simple equation why things are going wrong and what is needed for things to go right. 

Simples! 


Thursday, 5 April 2012

A smoke free Lebanon ...

Lebanon goes Smoke free…

Yes it's true dear reader, to my surprise, Lebanon has gone smoke free. Upon boarding my MEA flight home, i was handed a pamphlet explaining that Lebanon has passed a Public Smoking ban on September 3rd 2011.

The ban includes:
-Malls, shopping areas, supermarkets and commercial districts
-Airport buildings, airplanes and employee transportation vehicles
-Taxis, buses, vans and other public and private transportation vehicles
-Offices and other enclosed workplaces, their respective corridors, stairs, elevators, restrooms, reception area and cafeterias
-All schools, universities and all other public and private educational facilities (All related outdoor campuses and premises are included in the ban)
-All hospitals, clinics and all other private and public medical facilities are smoke free (Related outdoor campuses and premises are included in the ban)


This law is now into affect regarding the above stated, however this law will extend to all cafes, restaurants, pubs, clubs and other hospitality venues including hotels, as of September 3rd 2012.

The penalties for smoking in a banned area are as follows:

UP to 90 USD for the individual smoking in the banned areas.
And the establishment (owner or manager) will be fined twice up to 6 folds the Lebanese minimum wage equivalent of 900 to 2700 USD for not taking proper action to stop the individual.

I like this, honestly, they are using the european model and i for one am glad that the government has moved in favor of something that will be good for all Lebanese in long run.

Honestly, and being a smoker myself, i am very pleased to hear about this ban and look forward to September 3rd when this will apply in all pubs.

SO yes we all knew this would happen, a post where there will be no bitching just praise. I am happy to thank the Lebanese Government for this ban!

See picture of pamphlet distributed on all Middle-East Airlines both in Arabic and English!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lebanese Rape Society

"Welcome to Lebanese Rape Society (LRS), your one stop portal to committing rape in Lebanon. Here you can learn all about committing rape in Lebanon and how to get away with it.

I know what you are thinking, how can this be? How can there be a legal guide to rape? Well stop thinking that because in Lebanon, rapist have more rights and protections under the law than the victim. Article 522 of the Lebanese Penal code states :

إذا عقد زواج صحيح بين مرتكب إحدى الجرائم الواردة في هذا الفصل وبين المعتدى عليها أوقفت الملاحقة وإذا كان صدر الحكم بالقضية علق تنفيذ العقاب الذي فرض عليه.
يعاد إلى الملاحقة أو تنفيذ العقوبة قبل انقضاء ثلاث سنوات على الجنحة وانقضاء خمس سنوات على الجناية إذا انتهى الزواج إما بطلاق المرأة دون سبب مشروع أو بالطلاق المحكوم به لمصلحة المعتدى عليها.

See i told you it was real, here at LRS we give free legal advise and a how to guide if you sign up in the next few minutes. Article 522 also includes rape of a minor, person with a disability, divorcee and many many more. We can guarantee your exoneration all under the umbrella of the law.

Wait there is more, in the event your victim is extremely pretty and she has refused all your advances, a rape can guarantee you a marriage to this person. Just make sure LRS is aware so we can begin pressuring her family to avoid all the shame and public fiasco of an actual 'rape' process and just marry you. 

So next time you are thinking of the consequences of raping someone, do not worry, contact LRS ahead of time and we will help you (using the law) get away with rape (Literally)  

                       Lebanese Rape Association, making sure you are the victim"



All this might seem comedic to some but i was merely trying to point out the deficiencies in our penal code when it comes to sexual cases (all our code needs updating btw). Our penal code, theoretically, would allow an organisation such as this to exist since it is using actual articles and law from our penal system. 

It is hard to believe that with all the respect 'arabs' claim to have towards women, such laws actually exist. This needs to stop, criminals and sexual deviants should not have the chance to be spared because of an archaic law in an archaic system.

You can help :

Delete522 is a new  campaign launched specifically to change the law concerning sexual assault

Read about it :

Abir Ghattas's blog Delete522


*Inspired by Abirghattas.com and delete522.com


Sunday, 1 April 2012

A tribute Post ...

This post is a tribute to a very special person in my life :

"You were there when i was very young, you bathed me and  helped me get dressed. You made sure i was fed and made it on time to school. 

You cleaned up my mess and made sure all my toys were organised and my bed was always made.

You never once asked for a break and never once did you complain that you were tired.

You were there for me when i was happy, sad, hungry and sleepy. You stayed awake reading me stories until i fell asleep. 

You juggled cleaning, cooking and taking care of me like it was easy. 

You always made sure i was ok and had everything i needed regardless of your own needs. 

You played with me when everyone else was busy, you listened to my stories and nodded with interest. 

You took care of my dog when i was to busy. You made sure i did my homework.

You always waited with me in the cold for the school bus and always waited to pick me up when i got home from school.

You never complained and never asked for anything.

I still remember like it was yesterday the day you had to leave us and go back to your family. It was crowded at the airport and i still didn't understand what was going on. You hugged me and told me that you will never forget me. I saw you walk away slowly, i realised you were leaving me and began to cry and shout out your name, my mother held me as i tried to reach you. You slowly disappeared beyond my field of vision. 

 But you had a family of your own to take care of and i was being selfish by wanting you to stay with me, i still remember how kind you were with me and will never forget what you did for me. "


This is my own experience with my domestic worker / nanny when i was very young. These women give up everything they have to earn money for their families. These women treat us with such genuine love and care that one would think they  are doing just for us. It kills me inside when i hear the stories of ungrateful Lebanese families who treat their domestic worker with such violence and slavery.

Abusing domestic workers is WRONG, it does not matter what religion, race, background or class you are from. IT IS WRONG! They are not slaves, they are not sexual toys, they are not yours. They are here to further their families and make a living. If you won't pay them fare wage (Government's fault) then at least treat them with respect that you would give your mother, sister, brother, friend.

Stop the abuse of Migrant Workers in Lebanon, imprison those who do.

Find out here what is going on in Lebanon:

Migrant worker beaten and commits suicide  

Family of Zewdi Reda, the migrant worker who committed suicide in Lebanon due to maltreatment and  disregard by the Lebanese judiciary

To help:

Migrant Workers Task Force (MWTF)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

5 ways to help you debate politics in Lebanon

Lebanon has one of the most complex and volatile political systems in the world. Governments fall and resign like leaves in autumn. And if you have ever been to Lebanon, then you know that every person there is a political analyst and an expert in Lebanese politics. 

So how does one survive a political conversation / debate / argument in Lebanon without fighting with a friend / family or get stabbed by a stranger. Its simple. you just need to follow these 5 simple rules to Lebanese politics chat :

Find Assess Create Acknowledge Develop

Find:

Before you engage in a heated debate about how the current government is not doing anything or is stealing money, Find out to what political party / group / militia / organization / country is your counterpart with. To start a debate by having the person you are talking to feel offended and take a defensive stance before you even begin is never a good idea. So find out, and do not insult anyone since unlike real Lebanese politics, the point of this is to understand better or push your view through diplomatically.

Assess:

Once you know to whom does your counterpart follow / belong / agree with, then it is time to Assess his level how adamant or hardcore supporter he is. (Some people who are very hardcore might stab you if you said the wrong thing so better to know) In this case their are 3 types of followers:

   1. the Intellectual type; usually educated and smart. He will defend his stand using big words and     examples. The conversation will flow nicely and chance of an understanding are high (safe to carry on the debate)

   





2. The lost angry type; Usually Lebanese who has not lived in Lebanon his entire life, comes with a mix of liberalism and conservatism. Both hates Lebanon and loves it, hates politicians and loves them. Usually very emotional (high tendency to tear up or cry if drinking while debating), takes a stand but the longer the debate, the more likely he will give in to fit in Lebanese society. (Safe to carry on however if tearing is detected, just propose shots or appeal to his patriotic side by saying "kess Lebnen')

  


 3. The hardcore type; this is the most dangerous type, always Lebanese, lived / fought or has family who fought / died during the war or events in Lebanon. try to detect the signs early on to avoid trouble ,he will cut you off while you are talking, tell you that you don't understand anything and begins to relate everything to his personal experience. (If you detect this, end the conversation immediately, talk about ANYTHING else to avoid getting stabbed or beaten)   

Create 

A good way to have the debate spiral into a full blown argument is to be bias, instead try Creating an objective atmosphere rather than subjective. Point out the good (yes there is always good) before you mention the bad or less appealing.
Acknowledge

Building on being objective, Acknowledge that every one has made mistakes or handled himself wrongly. Begin by pointing it out from your point or perspective. Once you have shown this and acknowledged that even the person / party you support has made mistakes, your counterpart will let his defenses down and listen to you when you show that even his party / person has messed up in someway.

Develop

After having done all four steps above, the last one should be easy. this is where you Develop your point and use strong examples (be it national or international) to support your claim. However make sure you have created the correct atmosphere for this.


There you have it, 5 steps to going through or completing a political debate in Lebanon. these might be harder in practice at first, but the more you use them, the easier it will be.

Always remember though spot the Hardcore type early on, the later you spot him, the more likely things will end up badly! 

Good luck....you will need it

(Weird how the 5 steps spell out FACAD or corruption in Arabic)
Check out the kind of an infographic here

Monday, 26 March 2012

Taking over a Country 101

Back in the day, all you needed was an army and one could theoretically control a country. I mean treaties were respected, defeated armies would stand down and the population would accept their fate. However in the modern age, things are not as simple. No one respects treaties, armies may stand down but guerrilla groups will fight on and the population will not bow down.

So with this in mind, how does one take over a country these days?

Welcome to 'taking over a country 101':

First we need to break down the important parts which need direct control :

The Government:
  1. Council of Minister (Army and Police)
  2. Parliament (Laws and decrees)
The press:
  1. Print 
  2. Television 
  3. Internet 
Yes i know what you are thinking, that it can't be that easy but in reality it is. Controlling these 2 branches and sub-branches will give the controller enough power to control all aspects of daily life.

They will use governments to pass favorable laws and appoint friendly candidates while using the media to slowly get citizens to accept the changes and new laws. All this is done under the premiss that there exists an unstoppable 'evil' who lurks in the shadows never missing a chance to hurt the country.

Put all these together and what you have here is hellofaproblem!
For arguments sake, let us say that this is happening in Lebanon, that there is one group trying to take control of everything. Lets have a virtual checklist :

Government and sub branches (CHECK)
Press:
Print (Check)
Television (Check)
Internet (nay)

Ok so this is good then, the internet is still free from government censorship and control. But for how long, the next step is to actively censor the internet. Blocking the last medium of free communication will allow 'the controllers' to create news, change facts and the level of bias would be unimaginable.

Hopefully no one in Lebanon will ever try to propose any kind of law which will set any regulations to the internet. So until that day we can relax a little and still enjoy Lebanon the way it was meant to be; free.

But hypothetically lets say this does happen, are you willing to do anything about it? Or are you fine with the way things are going and always hope that another person will step in and fight for your rights?

Please reader, i want to hear your input, what do you think?