#JeSuisAhmed: The World That Fears Muslims

Ahmed Merabet Charlie Hebdo Terrorism Kouachi brothers

A couple of days ago, I decided that my reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack would be to share the covers that had those journalists killed. I didn’t say whether I agreed with their content because that wasn’t the point at the time, and freedom of speech, to me, was absolute, with satire at its heart, as it aims to reconcile reason with power. Enforcing limitations puts us on a slippery slope until Paris on January 7th becomes conceivable. The world isn’t where it is today because visionaries cowered from challenging their dogmas.

In today’s world, however, freedom of speech is a reflection of the hypocritical scope with which we view things. In this relative specter, even satire becomes cruel when it’s aimed at the weak who aren’t allowed to answer back. Two days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, this is our chance to sit down and talk.

Everyone’s up in flames over how Muslims aren’t condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks enough. Over how they haven’t condemned ISIS enough. Over how they aren’t condemning themselves enough. Well, they have over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

Where have you been throughout all of this? Thinking Muslim was a member of a small village of 1.57 billion where everyone’s alike: a terrorist, a pest, an apostate to modern values in need of serious reconsideration of his religious views. But never a person who could be a victim and who is, in fact, innocent  – at least until proven guilty.

And then you call them off when they actually do what you’re asking of them.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.11.12 PM

The victims of every attack carried out by extremists are not just those who died and whose memory perseveres in us, the media and then, when the calamity subsides, every bigot who uses their name to propagate their own version of extremism that is as toxic, but less deadly, perched on top of podiums, preaching about liberties while advocating for many to be denied of them.

The victims of the Paris attacks are that Muslim, whose kebab shop and Mosque were burned, who had absolutely nothing to do with the attack except in some amalgamation of Ahmad and terrorist.

They’re that Muslim who was afraid of going to the vigils to honor the dead of a publication that offended again and again, who was petrified at how people would view her hijab or his beard now, terrified at what it would mean to be on January 8th, 2015.

They’re that Muslim who watched in horror as the news of Paris unfolded, who gasped at the video showing the Muslim cop Ahmed Merabet being shot to death, told his children to go into their room to prevent them from seeing what he was seeing on TV and is worried daily at the poison they’re getting exposed to.

They’re the Muslim who has nothing to do with France but is told he is responsible for the actions of some French Muslims. They’re your Muslim friend at whom you looked with different sight today.

They’re that Muslim that is slowly being driven over the edge and who will come to endorse – nay, want to participate – one day in actions like those that took place in Paris yesterday.

They’re that foreign student who is now worried about what this means to his future. They’re that person trying to seek a better life for his family, whose chances are now completely in tatters.

What we demand of every single one of those Muslims is to condemn, apologize, and shout from every minaret how they are against what some of their lot are doing today, because if they don’t, then they are terrorists too.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.16.10 PM

Defending free speech by telling someone exactly what to say. Isn’t that ironic given that whole shenanigan involving sin and first stone to be cast?

In today’s world, I – born Christian, now who cares – am never lumped with the Christians who have caused two world wars, a holocaust, several other wars, the endless support for the state of Israel and the massacre of Palestinians, the endless encroachment over the riches of Africa, the rise of Neo-Nazi parties across Europe and the many attacks they have been committed in my name.

I am never asked to condemn en masse those protests in Germany where it was called for the expulsion of impure breeds, whose religion is not original to Europe – ironic as that is – and whose skin color is not as fair.

I am also never faced with existential questions about Christianity when those Neo-Nazis kill for their brand of extremism, as has happened in Norway in 2011, an assault which ended the life of 77 people.

I am never asked to apologize for Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary, to assess Christianity’s potential for the modern world after the 1 million in Iraq that died, because of a war that is there to defend my freedom, my rights, my security, my Jesus-given right for oil.

I am never considered as violent for contributing to the instability of Pakistan and leading to the loss of 140+ of its children in Peshawar. Those are just Muslims killing other Muslims.

Jews are never faced with retribution for their continuous slaughter of Palestinians, the last of which was in Gaza this past summer, where 600 Palestinian children died. They are never asked to apologize for their constant rape of Palestinian land, for never-ending settlements, for their constant erosion of the rights of the people with whom they are forcibly sharing the land.

In today’s world, that same Muslim we are more than willing to burn at the stake is never allowed to be offended or else he’s deemed an extremist as the world-given badge of modernity gets taken away.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.09.22 PM

 

Meanwhile, holocaust portrayals can cause uproars; Charlie Hebdo in 2009 fired and had that same artist sued for hate speech for drawing a Jewish caricature of Sarkozy, and even Christians are allowed to be offended by portrayals of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

We think so little of the world’s Muslims that their deaths are a natural event, never worth a discussion. We think so low of them that we believe it’s unfathomable for them to comprehend our cherished values of freedom, democracy, and autonomy, despite those concepts – in the same context of worldwide hypocrisy – being relative: only given to those who can afford them, to those powerful enough to claim them.

How can we explain, for instance, to the Muslim Palestinian in Gaza what human rights are or what freedom is, while that same Palestinian is genuinly expected to wholly understand how it is to be a French free man in France?

How can we explain to the Muslim women of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf that they can do whatever they want with their bodies when their own governments that keep on oppressing them are maintained by the same countries where women are, in theory, liberated, open, sexual, and can drive?

How can we explain to that Saudi blogger who is now facing 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes for speaking up what freedom of speech actually means?

How can we explain what freedom is to Muslims living in dictatorships, under systems that are kept there by the same countries demanding of those same Muslims to be free and worldly and Western?

We are so blinded by prejudice and hate that we can’t see who actually benefits from the attacks in Paris on January 7th.

Those are people like Marine Le Pen, who doesn’t see how the construct of modern French society has a lot to do with why January 7th happened, whose message of hate will now resonate clearer in the minds of the French and who will spear-head a regression of the theoretical values of the French state. She has already started sharpening her harpoon.

They’re people like the far-right in every corner of the world whose flags might as well be those of ISIS with inverted colors. They’re people like Netenyahu whose own brand of terrorism is never labeled as such and who will use the attacks in Paris to further advocate for the need of escalation in his terror.

They’re heads of nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia who proclaim moderation for the world to be fooled, and spread hatred wherever they go, as they buy their way to a majority share in the European continent.

Imagine for a moment that this had been a parallel world, where we are an impoverished minority, whose countries are taken up for their natural resources, whose heads are so blinded by wealth and power they can’t see themselves being manipulated, whose poor are among the poorest of the world, whose children die of famine and war, whose lives are not judged in absolute value, whose lands are a matter of debate, whose opinions are not free, would we be asked to condemn too?

I do not understand Islam nor do I pretend to do so. I don’t know what true Islam is, the same way I don’t know what true Christianity or true Judaism are, and I don’t believe anyone truly knows – all three remain ideological constructs that are open to interpretation within frames that are entirely individualistic. Hence,  I cannot defend religions as a dogma nor am I doing so.

We say that we can root out Muslim extremism by force: by forcing them to be apologetic, by forcing ourselves over their homes, by launching missiles, armies, and rockets. That is not the case. The only way to weed out the Islamists, extremists and terrorists is to empower those Muslims who are being killed by those same extremists when they speak up, whose voices are being silenced by the mainstream voices around the world that refuse to listen, and who are not allowed to fill the vacuum in their reputation as it’s slowly eaten away by the mole in their midst. We empower them by listening, by not taking away the stability in their countries, by not making sure their countries, communities and societies never amount to anything, and by not believing the cause of their hardship is the religion they worship.

There are three ways this can deconstruct. We can either maintain things as they are, ignore any lesson Paris is trying to teach us, and carry on. We can make things worse, lump 1.57 billion Muslim with ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Taliban and assume that they’re all out there to assassinate freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Or you can ignore the hate speech, tell that terrified Muslim that there’s someone who gets it, doesn’t require him to condemn, doesn’t attribute 1.57 billions to the actions of one and understands that the actions of that one are more related to societal constructs than to religion, who knows that he too has autonomy, and needs freedom, and seeks a better life for his children, and that praying while looking at Mecca and kneeling down is essentially the same as looking at an altar and standing up, and that this world is very cruel to anyone who is different from the norms, and that it is okay to be angry and not to be okay with how things are, that you should be Charlie, and Ahmed and all shades in between, and that it is okay to be a human who just happens to be Muslim.

The Charlie Hebdo Covers The Terrorists Don’t Want You To See

This is to those who think honor is killing someone who offends you.

This is to those who think killing someone who expresses his basic freedom of speech can be rationalized, those people who are the worst kinds of the kinds, the people who are even more dangerous than the terrorists who actually kill.

This is to those whose skin is so paper-thin a joke proves to be too much for them to handle.

This is to those who think their religion tells them they should kill, who think they have the right to take a human life.

Because no one should die for drawing a picture,

Because no one should die for writing a page,

Because no one should die for freedom of expression.

We may be used to death and horror where we live, but that’s no excuse not to feel disgusted and horrified at what happened in Paris today.

Because the best thing we can do now is to express ourselves unlimitedly, and because publications in my country may prove to be too cowardly to publish these, I present the many covers that got narrow-minded bigoted cunts to kill 12 innocent souls in France today.

From Beirut, this is Charlie Hebdo.

1 – Mahomet Débordé (2006):

Mahomet Deborde - 2006In 2006, following the uproar over the Danish caricature of the Prophet Mohammad, Charlie Hebdo republished the pictures in an issue, to the outcry of many, and to the lawsuits of others.

2 – Oui A La Burqa (2010):

Oui A La Burqa - 2010

Following the ban of the Burqa in France in 2010, Charlie Hebdo came out in support of the decision. In case people thought their title of this issue was open to interpretation, they illustrated it very clearly.

3 – Charia Hebdo (2011):

Charia Hebdo - 2011

In November 2011, to “celebrate” the victory of the Islamists in Tunisian elections, Charlie Hebdo renamed their issue to “Charia Hebdo”, a play on the French world for “Sharia,” and featured the Prophet Mohammad as a guest editor. A molotov cocktail was subsequently thrown into their offices, destroying everything, and their website was hacked to only show the phrase: “There is no God but Allah.”

4 – Intouchables 2 (2012)

charlie-hebdo-anti islam Muhammad cover

 

In 2012, following the release of “The Innocence of Muslims,” Charlie Hebdo released this spin over the then-widely popular French movie “Intouchables.” The issue also had several caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in various compromising positions. Needless to say, threats against them and against many French embassies rose to stratospheric heights. As a result, French embassies and cultural centers in many countries were forced to close.

5 – Le Coran C’est De La Merde (2013):

Le Coran C'est de la Merde - 2013

 

In 2013, to comment on the crackdown on Islamists in Egypt, Charlie Hebdo wrote an issue in which they made fun of those Islamists for finding the Quran not to be as “bullet-proof” as they once thought.

6 – Si Mahomet Revenait (2014):

Si Mahomet Revenait - 2014In October 2014, to comment on the rise of ISIS and their video-taped public executions of many foreigners and locals alike, Charlie Hebdo published a cover depicting what most people around the world know about the terrorists: that they have nothing to do with Islam. Of course, everyone knows this but the terrorists themselves.

7 – En 2022, Je Fais Ramadan (2015):

En 2022, Je Fais Ramadan - 2015

 

To comment on the rise of Islam in France, Charlie Hebdo’s first issue of 2015 was a satire on how come year 2022, France will start observing Ramadan as a regularity. I suppose this didn’t such very well with some of the masses.

To those who think the publication is also only anti-Muslim, here are two covers that are anti-Christian:

May all the artists and visionaries at Charlie Hebdo who lost their lives today rest in peace. The world will remember them forevermore as the brave people who drew their pen to those who drew a weapon at them. And there’s no better memory to leave to an unjust world like ours today.

10897737_895608000472422_3514591476168462957_n

 

Pictures of Lebanon from the International Space Station

On Christmas Day, the International Space Station (ISS) wanted to show a different side of the region where Christmas came to be. For a place known to be war-torn, with blood-filled conflicts taking place every day, the astronauts at ISS wanted to show the world exactly how peaceful we looked from up there on a day that is all about peace, a time that is about anything but.

The pictures in question have been around for days now but they haven’t made the round yet. One explanation could be the caption with which they shared the pictures was the following:

Israel – completely clear – on Christmas morning from the International Space Station. Astronaut Barry Wilmore woke up early on Christmas to reflect upon the beauty of the Earth and snap some images to share with the world.

Obviously, that’s a big no-no around these parts. But seeing as how small the region is, a picture of space cannot contain one country alone, and I thought the way Lebanon looked on Christmas day from space, peaceful as it it, is always something nice to look at, which is quite is ironic given the situation and the additional rage we got from hellish traffic during that period.

For those who aren’t familiar with Lebanese geography, in order to find Lebanon just spot the snowy mountains. We are the only country in the region to have them. Those are the Cedar mountains in the North of the country. I’ve said over and over again that our best winter resorts are up there, but Beirutis just don’t believe me. Now you have proof.

Our country is the area around those mountains, with the very crooked coastline, from the Akkar in the North to the Naqoura tip in the South. The Eastern part is tougher to delineate.

You can also see Palestine, the Dead Sea, as well as parts of Syria.

The ISS has made it a habit of sharing wonderful pictures of Earth from space. A few weeks ago, upon a request from a Lebanese Twitter user, the ISS shared with him a picture of Beirut from space:

Beirut from ISS

You can check out pictures of other places on Earth on their Facebook page.

Hijabi Porn and National Anthem Pride: Lebanon’s New Joy, #1 Porn Star Mia Khalifa

Being the Switzerland and Paris of the Middle East, it is our duty to prove that we are open minded and not as wretched as the region we are in. Therefore, it is with blinding enthusiasm that Lebanese have jumped on the enticing bandwagon of having a girl of Lebanese origins named the #1 porn star of the moment by Pornhub.

Pornhub Mia Khalifa

Ironically, the same person that blasted Myriam Klink last year  was quick to chat up Mia on Twitter and try to schedule a “meeting.”

Nemr Bou Nassar, Mia Khalifa

And then there were those spear-heading Mia’s right to do whatever she wants with her body and to the penises of countless men around the Earth. Porn is porn. It is expression. It is freedom. It is our God-given right. Isn’t this the same as Jackie Chamoun last year?

Except it’s not quite the same. Jackie Chamoun wasn’t a porn star. Her career didn’t revolve around how many moans and orgasms she could fake per minute. Her rise to fame was not because she made it with porn, and the aftermath of Jackie Chamoun was one of the more interesting debates in the country of the past year.

When it comes to Mia Khalife, the only thing people are capable of discussing at this point are three things:

  1. How big her breasts are and either that is a turn on or turn off,
  2. How many times they’ve masturbated to videos of her already, shouting “GO LEBANON” with each orgasm,
  3. How awesome it is to see her screw with that Lebanese tattoo on her left arm. You don’t believe me? Here’s a NSFW picture:
Tam tarummmm, tam tarum....

Tam tarummmm, tam tarum….

There’s obviously something to be proud of about someone taking our national anthem all the way to American porn history galore, embodying precisely what the anthem is all about: We are all for country, for heights, for the flag. Oh Mia, oh Mia, oh Mia.

And then there’s of course that bit where Lebanon’s very own pride and joy Mia Khalife decided to do a porn video in a hijab, from “acting” along with a hijabi mother who doesn’t approve of her boyfriend – how cliche – and is worried about how her father – Muslim mentality and all – would react. So exciting. To both mother and daughter blowing the guy in their hijab before proceeding to sleep with him on the couch. Riveting.

There’s obviously something to be proud of about a Lebanese who takes a symbol of one of the country’s leading religions and desecrates it in the way that she did. I’m all for whatever expression people like to give their 21st century neo-liberal ideas nowadays, but being proud of someone who fucked her way to the top in a hijab is something I can’t spin into favorable light. In fact, the reason she’s becoming big now is this hijabi porn video:

Mia Khalifa Hijab Porn

There are many Lebanese to be proud of. I even made a list, just in case. But it is in my opinion that there should be a limit to what someone can do – Lebanese or not – before we turn them into the frontrunners of the fights against Da’esh and censorship. Mia Khalife is doing nothing of the sort.

Mia Khalife may look more Lebanese than a lot of Lebanese girls in Lebanon, but a national hero she is not. Is she free to do whatever she feels like? Of course she is. Should we make into more than it is: a silly porn? No. Whatever you do, however, please don’t strip for her. She already did that plenty for you.

13 Lebanese That Made It Big In 2014

2014 has been a pretty messed up year on the Lebanese scale, but amidst all of it, there were a few Lebanese whose news served as a diversion from all the mayhem. Their accomplishments made us happy, even if they didn’t pertain to us directly. As we saw some of them make it big on an international level, we were maybe reminded of our own hidden potential over here. Others caused ripples right at home. To those Lebanese, I came up with this to salute them.

This list is without any order.

1 – Fadel Adib

Fadel Adib

This 25 year old from Tripoli made it to MIT’s list of 35 innovators under 35. His innovation? A system that uses wifi signals in order to track people, their vital signs and other important components. The applications are limitless: from tracking elderly who are prone to falls, to new radiology methods in medicine to police application in criminal activity monitoring….

2 – Hind Hobeika

Hind_Hobeika

Hind was one of the most influential women of 2014 according to the BBC. She invented the Instabeat Goggles, a swimming monitor that tracks heart rate to offer real-time feedback. The device mounts on the straps of any swimming goggles, and reads the heart rate from the temporal artery.

3 – Mohammad El Mir

Mohammad el Mir

This 11 year old from Tripoli won a competition in Germany earlier in the year that found him being named the world’s junior genius. He beat out participants from 40 other countries. He deserves more recognition than what he got, but the future looks bright for him either way.

4 – Amal Alamuddin

Amal Alamuddin

She was the most ubiquitous Lebanese around the globe this year. As far as the globe is concerned, it’s all because Amal now has Clooney as her last name. But Amal is one of the world’s most brilliant lawyers. Her list of client includes people like Julien Assange and former Ukrainian PM Yulia Tymoshenko. She has also lately been chosen to represent Armenia in the European Court of Human Rights. She has charmed people across the world, standing not only as equal to Clooney, but sometimes being the more interesting of the two.

5 – Aya Bdeir

Ayah Bdeir

She was also on MIT’s 35 innovators under 35 list. Her invention is LittleBits, a library of modular electronic units that can be connected to build many different things ranging from a sound machine, a night light, or even a lifelike robotic hand. She has sold hundreds of thousands of units so far in over 80 countries. And I bet she’s not stopping anytime soon.

6 – Rand Hindi

Rand Hindi

He was named by MIT as one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 for his work in a company he founded called Snips, which analyzes data in hopes of making city living more efficient. To put that into effect, Snips partnered with the SNCF to create an app that predicts three days in advance how crowded trains would be on a certain day. In a world that’s increasingly built on algorithms, data, and numbers, analyzing such input is becoming not only essential, but vital.

7 – Jackie Chamoun

Jackie Chamoun

It all started when Jackie’s photoshoot for a calendar surfaced through a video that showed her nude. The news passed under the radar, until Sports Minister Karami saw her behavior as “insulting.” All online hell broke loose. From “I’m Not Naked,” to “#StripForJackie,” the country saw a tangible liberal movement rooting itself in the collective mindset of everyone. Debates about women, feminism, body image and sex became the talk of the moment. Jackie didn’t end up winning an Olympic medal, but she became a household name almost overnight.

8 – Yasmine Hamdan

Yasmine Hamdan

She first became known with Soapkills. Today, however, Yasmine Hamdan is on a whole other trajectory of success, having made it to Hollywood all by herself through her music. On “Only Lovers Left Alive,” she sings the song “Hal.” That song is on a shortlist to the Oscars this year.

9 – The People Behind Sakker El Dekkene

Sakker El Dekkene

They were the country’s first NGO to truly break into the mainstream when it the issue of corruption. For that, they devised an app that lets people pinpoint where they saw a corrupt act taking place and report it. They also set up base at various locations around the country to raise awareness. In a country where almost anything is at a price, shedding a light on this cancerous aspect of our society is very important.

10 – Bushra El Turk

Bushra El Turk

This Lebanese composer was featured by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential women of 2014 for her music. Her compositions have been played by orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Opera House, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, among many others.

11 – Manale Daou

Manale Daou

Most of you know her as the clerk that MP Nicolas Fattouch attacked for telling him to stand in line. Soon enough, she was spear-heading a campaign against Fattouch, who had managed to weasel his way out of every tough spot in his career. But not this time. The Beirut Law Syndicate decided to disbar him soon after he got caught up in another scandal. Daou filed a lawsuit against him. Who knows where all of this will lead, but at least she was able to do something.

12 – Bahia Chehab

Bahia Chehab

She’s an associate professor of practice of art at The American University in Cairo, and was featured by the BBC as one of the 100 most influential women in the world for the past year. Her influence comes from her tangible work in the Egyptian revolution(s), by orchestrating the most widely used graffiti consisting of the Arabic word “No.” She explains it all in her widely popular Ted Talk.

13 – Wael Abou Faour

Wael Abou Faour

At a time when his predecessors did nothing of the sort, him doing his job becomes big news. His methods may be unorthodox – announcing restaurants in a weekly Star Academy-like nominee style is odd, and open to much criticism, but his work in the late months of 2014 on food safety in the country has shaken establishments.

Tripoli’s Fayha Choir: An Absolutely Majestic Experience

I guess you can say I was super lucky to have been in Tripoli this past Friday. I was out and about with a friend in a city that is slowly but surely celebrating Christmas: trees, decorations, traffic, bustling people everywhere. What only Tripoli offers Lebanon in form of our national Christmas spirit is their very own Fayha Choir, named after the city from which they emanated. The choir in question usually holds recitals in some of Tripoli’s churches, as well as other places in the country, to celebrate the occasion. They have also been on international tours, received international recognition for what they do, and reached the semi-finals of Arabs Got Talent 3 years ago.

It so happened that they had a recital that very day. It was only evident that we go.

To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

Founded in 2003, the choir started as an 8-people unit until it expanded into the 40+ phenomenon that it is today. They are conducted by Barkev Taslakian, a very impressive person who has shaped the choir into the form it is in today.

I daresay it’s not only Lebanon’s leading a-cappella choir, it’s the region’s by far.

I was told that this blog has recently turned into an obituary. Tripoli’s Fayha Choir have blown me away so much that I am writing my first full on positive entry in a long time just to shed a spotlight on this wonderful collection of Lebanese talent. No buts.

Christmas spirit isn’t about flashy, expensive and gifts under a tree. True Christmas spirit is about giving and sharing. The Fayha Choir is sharing with us their voices. That choir, which holds people of different sects and following, in a city that has – for the past several years – been told that such joyful moments should not be in its destiny, is reaching out to each other and to us, uniting their voices to sing for unity, for peace, for what religions call for but very few actually implement.

I wish them nothing but success. This past Friday, they made me proud because they are making it against all odds. They are making me proud because they have Muslims singing for the Son of Man and Christians chanting all the names of Allah. They are making me proud because for the first time in a long time I’ve seen people do something not because it brings them money or fame or recognition, but just because they are madly in love with what they do and it shows in every single flawless note they utter. And that is the best kind.

So it is because I am proud that I mention the names of the choir’s members one by one to thank them:

  • Farah Nahhas
  • Aiman Saadieh
  • Fatma Shehadeh
  • Abdallah Adib
  • Ghina Adib
  • Bassem Suleyman
  • Carlo Dawra
  • Ahmad Al Kheir
  • Joanna Asmar
  • Mohammad Abdul Aal
  • Maryam Hamdan
  • Ahmad Darwish
  • Mona el Sheikh
  • Elie Hanna
  • Maya el Sharif
  • Ihab Taha
  • Nadine Finge
  • Hatem Khodr
  • Roula Abou Baker
  • Jack Fallah
  • Negdar Palazian
  • Mahmoud Mawass
  • Mennat Allah
  • Mohammad Mashloush
  • Nour Ziadeh
  • Mubadda Younes
  • Nour Haddad
  • Mustafa Bayrouti
  • Reina Merhebi
  • Mohammad Abou Baker
  • Reem Abdi
  • Panos Keborkian
  • Mouna Ayoubi
  • Sadir Abdul Hadi
  • Alma Yakhni
  • Paul Boulos
  • Shaza Sharif
  • Tarek Abdel Fattah
  • Hala Amin
  • Rami Dandachi
  • Nizar Abdi
  • Taha Ghomrawi
  • Hanadi Amin
  • Rania Habbouchi
  • Oussama Charaf Eddine

Why such talents are not yet a household name in Lebanon is beyond me. Check out their Facebook page for their upcoming perfomances.  You won’t be disappointed.

Hiba Tawaji To Be On France’s The Voice

I thought the 4th season of The Voice France (La Plus Belle Voix) passed by without us noticing because there wasn’t a Lebanese candidate there.

The first season of the show had Johnny Maalouf, who received the least media attention in this home country even though he reached very advanced stages on the show; the second one had Anthony Touma, who reached the semi-finals before losing to the eventual runner up of that season; and last year’s season had Aline Lahoud, daughter of Lebanese late singer Salwa Al Katrib, who auditioned with one of her mother’s most famous songs and made it to the battle stages of the show.

According to LeFigaro, LBC and up and coming Lebanese blog Sharbel Faraj, Hiba Tawaji is set to be the opening talent of the 4th season of The Voice France, set to debut on January 10th, 2015. Judging by the hype that even TF1 is making for her, she has obviously made it through.

TF1 had shared an instagram video 3 days ago for a talent they called Hiba, singing a-capella for the press conference announcing the show. The talent in question starts off singing “Les Moulins De Mon Coeur” before – and you can barely hear this at the end of the video – moves into لا بداية ولا نهاية, Hiba’s Lebanese take on the song.

#TheVoiceisBack A quelques jours de Noël, on vous offre la première voix de la Saison 4 -> #Hiba ! #TheVoice

A video posted by The Voice TF1 (@thevoice_tf1) on

They also tweeted about it on December 17th, but few have failed to notice in this part of the world, as well as posted a vine of a shorter portion of the instagram video you see above:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 2.21.39 PM

I’m sure Hiba Tawaji will do remarkably well on the show. She has the pipes for it. While I’m not a big fan of her music, I can’t but appreciate the magnitude of professionalism and the sheer caliber of her pipes. I daresay, The Voice France has probably never had a singer as talented as she is and they ought to make sure everyone knows that, although I have to wonder if French audiences aren’t sick of having a Lebanese candidate on their show every year.

What I’m less sure of, however, is the need for Hiba Tawaji to go on such a show. She’s already a household name in Lebanon – much more known that last year’s Aline Lahoud. She already has two best-selling albums out, has been in multiple Rahbani plays and can sell out concerts quite easily with the following she has amassed, dedicated to listen to her pristine vocals.

Perhaps the confines of this country have become too narrow and limited for such a talent, perhaps she wants more for herself than to be pigeon-holded into the very narrow-frames that our culture places on female singers. Perhaps she has bigger dreams in mind than selling out Casino Du Liban for a couple of nights.

Good luck to her although I’m sure she doesn’t need it. I mean, can you imagine how gaga those judges and audiences will go if she sings my favorite songs of her?

Or: