Why MTV’s “Banana Song” To Increase Culture In Lebanon Is A Big Failure

The only banana picture worth sharing

The only banana picture worth sharing

I was asked last week why I didn’t address the “banana song” that everyone was talking about. My answer was simple: it was something I didn’t feel should be propagated. Any kind of publicity is publicity, and I wasn’t going to be yet another blog exposing it to more people, not that it needed my help in doing so. Blog clicks and views be damned.

Yesterday, MTV announced that the whole thing was a marketing ploy orchestrated in collaboration with Impact BBDO to highlight how easily Lebanese fall for such flashy headlines and brainless news content instead of pursuing “culture.”

Certainly, the cause behind the mortifying song is noble, and kudos to those behind it for managing something that got almost everyone talking, even if it were to bash or criticize or to share it among friends for finding it hilarious.

But having everyone talk about it doesn’t mean the purpose of the campaign was successful. The campaign’s goal, to boost culture among the Lebanese populace, feels empty and hollow. I mean, isn’t MTV one of the leading Lebanese TV stations promoting lack of culture and decadence?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about 14 pictures about the content that MTV has been advertising on its channels for the past 4 days?

I don’t know about you but news about selfies and skin products don’t qualify as propagating culture in my book.

MTV’s lack of “culture propagation” also extends to their shows: when has Adel Karam hosted an artist on his show that promotes culture? His most successful episode was with Haifa Wehbe.

What was MTV’s attempt at keeping you glued to your TV sets on a Saturday night? Maya Diab in barely-there clothing singing karaoke.

How did MTV try to sell Dancing With The Stars in its first season? By using May Hariri.

Of course, MTV isn’t alone in this practice of culture-lacking Lebanese media approach. Here are some screenshots thanks to LBCI, OTV and Al-Jadeed:

Isn’t it ironic that the same TV station wanting to fight decadence has been actively promoting it for months and years based on the rule that “الجمهور عايز كده?”

Do they even know that people massively clicking on a link isn’t indicative of its quality and that people tuning into a TV show doesn’t mean that said TV show is of decent quality?

Does MTV also think that the people who shared the video and who are targeted by the campaign would suddenly wake up and find themselves needing to pursue some Picasso instead of a Miss Lebanon selfie and some Beethoven instead of Haifa, especially that there’s absolutely no Lebanese TV stations that serves such a level of “culture” to begin with, in a country where such a thing isn’t remotely primed in the first place?

The Lebanese population is being actively dumbed down by TV stations who then come sweeping in with a marketing ploy to show us that we easily fall prey to gimmicks, while doing absolutely nothing about the problem in the first place. Don’t ridicule people with a silly “music” video when your TV station makes absolutely no effort at advocating for the campaign you’re supposedly championing.

If you want to fight decadence and promote culture, then do it, don’t preach it. Offer some culture to your viewers that isn’t gimmicky. Educate them. Give them news articles that would stimulate their minds, that don’t start with a  “بالصور ” or ” بالفيديو ” headline.

Don’t expose the music of the highest bidder when there’s so much better pieces floating around the Lebanese scene but without the needed money to give them airtime. Don’t give acting roles to models when there are countless theatre students in the country who can’t make a living.

If you want to promote culture, don’t shy away from investigative journalism that could highlight and maybe change a lot of what’s happening in this country just because a politician owns shares in your establishment. How many issues has MTV and other Lebanese TV stations forcefully ignored because they’re not “catchy” enough, because they deem aren’t newsworthy enough, because they want to kill them upon arrival for a reason or another? How can you promote culture if you’re deciding what is cultural and what isn’t?

The simplest analogy to this whole issue that I can think of is the following: MTV promoting culture is akin to Al Manar promoting secularism or Tele Lumiere promoting atheism. In other words, it’s bullshit. In a week or so, when people get over bananas, MTV will go back to what it does best and it will all be “بالصور ” or ” بالفيديو .”

 

What’s Worse Than Lebanon’s Lawmakers Stealing Our Right To Vote

June 20th, 2017. Save the date, for it will be the time Lebanon’s current parliament extends its mandate for the third time in a row. Some people like the taste of power. Those who like power in Lebanon can’t get enough of it.

Apart from the ramifications of the extension, many of which you will probably be hearing about until elections happen in who-knows-when, here are a few observations about myself amidst this political fuckery:

  • I’m a soon-to-be 25 year old who, according to our laws and regulations, is basically equipped with full legal responsibilities and whatnot, but I’ve never – ever – voted for anything, and by the looks of it will never do.

Contrast this with my American cousins whose ages range from 20 to 26 and who have voted at least twice so far in the past 2 years alone, the last of which was yesterday. Those Americans… they fight ISIS here, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and they still manage to hold elections every other two years. Teach our politicians, why don’t you?

  • By extending its mandate till 2017, Lebanon’s lawmakers have made sure that I, along with a substantial portion of Lebanon’s youth, will never – ever – get to have a say in who becomes a parliament member.

I will immigrate and be out of the country by 2016. Ironically, I will most likely be attending (but sadly not participating) in the American presidential elections that year, but at least I’ll be able to say that the past 6 years, in which I should have witnessed, in theory, a presidential election, two parliamentary elections and municipality elections, haven’t been election-less, although I have witnessed the Syrian presidential elections on my territory; I guess the situation wasn’t bad enough for that not to happen.

Most of the people I know are against parliament’s mandate extension, and so am I. But somehow, after thinking about this for about the fifteen minutes that it deserves amidst this country’s sewage-like level of politics, I realized that the bigger travesty of this parliament’s extension is that our MPs, or all 95 of them who attended, were so full of themselves that they didn’t see anything wrong with extending their mandate for an extra two years and seven months.

The biggest and sadder travesty that occurred today is also the fact that those same parliament members who have failed to ensure quorum since that first round of presidential elections way back when, have found quorum for the sole purpose of ensuring they can fail to gather quorum for the next two years and seven months, while getting fully paid for their lack of services.

The saddest aspect of today is that there are still Lebanese out there who can’t think for themselves and who think that their politicians of choice were correct in voting the way they voted today or in not attending today’s session, as if those voting for the extension did so unpredictably and those who didn’t attend, while being in the government and making sure none of the regulations needed to make sure parliamentary elections take place are passed, have also effectively supported the extension from the get-go and were searching for the best way to go around mass Lebanese (Christians mainly) scrutiny.

Ironically fitting for Mr. Bassil and his party's MPs to "want to fight the power from inside," don't you think?

Ironically fitting for Mr. Bassil and his party’s MPs to “want to fight the power from inside,” don’t you think?

Today has also revealed exactly how silly, stupid, ridiculous and retarded this whole debacle is with the realization that there are Lebanese people who will actually be voting for parliament members in Kuwait on November 7th (this Friday) and in Sydney, Australia on November 9th (this Sunday) because, as of now, we are all still voters who are supposed to vote for parliament soon, pending the publication of today’s decision in the Official Gazette. What will the votes of those Lebanese amount to? The answer is exactly the same as all our votes: toilet paper for our MP’s behinds.

IMG_8187

But I digress. There are, believe it or not, worse things taking place today thanks to those very lawmakers that should be noted, especially today:

1 – Presidential Elections:

Get this: 97 MPs gathered in parliament today, making up more than 2/3 majority required to vote on major bills, in order to extend their mandate. Those MPs voted 95-2 on the bill in question. However, for the past 6 months, those same MPs have not only failed to gather quorum for presidential electives, many of them have actively campaigned against ensuring such a quorum. By ensuring no president is elected, those MPs have made a nice bundled argument for themselves on the necessity of another mandate extension is required to avoid that dreaded void. If you think about it, it’s a nice little Lebanese catch 22. It’s not that they’re too smart; it’s that they’ve become so accustomed at fooling everyone that they make it seem like what they do is for the best of the Lebanese population they’re busy screwing over day in, day out.

It’s okay, though, who needs a president anyway.

2 – Elections Law

When those 128MPs got to power in 2009, they all agreed that a new electoral law was a necessity to be done in those 4 years during which they would serve their country and citizens. The reality was a vacation for the first two years, a wake up call on year 3, a few months of hectic sprints in year 4, jumping from one absurd law to another more absurd law (you do remember the Orthodox proposal, of course, however long ago that seems right now) until they realized that the whole issue was too tiring and decided to postpone for themselves the first time, saying that they will use those extended 18 months to work on a new law.

How many hours have those MPs spent in those 18 months working on a new electoral law? Approximately 0.

In fact, not only is the lack of an electoral law after more than five and a half years a tragedy, but any electoral law that will arise from this parliament in question will be tailor-made to please everyone and, effectively, keep the status quo as is. Do you really think they’d agree to what’s fair if fairness meant they’d be kicked out of Nejmeh Square?

3 – What If Elections Happened On November 16th?

Let’s assume, however, that our parliament decided that the democratic process was, contrary to actuality, important. Let’s assume that they swallowed their overgrown prides and decided to campaign for our votes in about 11 days and try out for the Guinness World Record for shortest election delay ever. Now that’s something we can teach those Americans. Let me give you an example of the broad array of candidates that I could have voted for in Batroun:

2014

2014

 

The names sound familiar? That’s because you know them all. Gebran Bassil (name #2) is THE Gebran Bassil. Boutros Harb (name #4) is my current MP and the minister of telecom. Antoine Zahra (last name) is the LF-go-to-spokesperson for fiery speeches and my other MP.

Now contrast the above list with that of those who were running for elections before parliament underwent its first extension in June 2013:

2013

2013

I would advise a game of “spot the difference,” but it’d be essentially futile as there are basically none. If elections were to happen on November 16th, our tax money would be spent to make sure that those same MPs, across all Lebanese districts, get not a two year and seven months mandate that is illegal, but a four year mandate that is legal. It’s not just because they made sure we vote based on a law that preferred them, but because we are left without a choice and because the bulk of those who vote, as in the people that exist outside of Twitter and Facebook (they exist!), do not vote the same way we do. And, because who the hell are we kidding, many of us as well would vote for the same people again, just because of familiarity.

4 – They’re Working Overtime

So what has our parliament done in the 18 months of its first extension? They worked of course. Overtime. They worked to ensure that a president is not elected (read point #1). They worked to make sure that the workers’ benefits and whatnot are not voted on, that a quorum is never reached. They worked overtime to make sure that Lebanese students who presented their official exams this year never get results and end up with certificates of passing, the tales of which our parents had told us back when they were going through school during the times of the Civil War.

They worked overtime to make sure a proper bill protecting women from domestic abuse isn’t passed. What we got instead was a maimed piece of legislation, aimed to please this religious leader or that, but still managing to keep our women under the thumbs of their husbands or partners.

They worked overtime not to work on an electoral law, not to legislate a stance from the Syrian war, not to basically do anything except get paid for doing no work in overtime.

5 – The Divide Is Christian/Muslim, not M14/M8

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the past several months on the Lebanese scene is the fact that the game has changed from being a March 14 versus a March 8 game, to becoming full blown Christian blocs versus Muslim blocs over the essential issues in the country, at a time when the Christian-Muslim divide, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is at an all time high.

As Ramez Dagher, on his blog Moulahazat, put it:

What is scary here isn’t that Lebanese politicians lie and steal and deceive and postpone elections. That, we already know. What is truly scary here is that 25 years after Taef, we are starting to witness an obvious rapprochement between the Christian parties while a rivalry between the Muslim blocs and the major Christian ones is becoming more apparent by the day. Every time there’s an important law debated in parliament – Such as the electoral law or the extension law – the rift is yet again Christian/Muslim instead of M8/M14: 10 years after the creation of these alliances , it seems that they were more based on an electoral than ideological ground.

If there was one beautiful thing about the March 8 and 14 alliances, it was that they were religiously diverse. And now – with ISIS on our gates and with vacancy and dysfunction everywhere in the political establishment – is literally the worst time to lose that.

Conclusion:

Too long, didn’t read – the summary to you is as follows: Living in Lebanon is living in shit, but at least we have the biggest platter of hummus, fattouch, lemonade cup, biggest burger, longest falafel sandwich and we’ve officially wed George Clooney to one of our daughters. You’re welcome for the realization.

Lebanese Propaganda 101: Sa7eb Mabda2

Lebanese highways change a lot in the space of a week. Not the roads, obviously, but all those billboards overflowing on their sides sure do.

While going back home North yesterday, one particular billboard caught my attention: sa7eb mabda2, with Samir Geagea looking pensively at his shoe.

You’ll notice the first of those in Dbayyeh with others sprinkled from there onwards to Batroun, each bigger than the one before it. I haven’t gone past Batroun but I’m assuming they should, theoretically, round up the Lebanese geographical bible belt.

Here’s the billboard in question:

Sa7eb Mabda2

The businessman in question, Ibrahim El Saker, is obviously vying for some political power through his politician of choice. Forming our new government is in progress, as I last heard, and many cabinets are up for grabs. Why not him?

In case you don’t recall, he’s the same businessman who also flooded the highways pre-theoretical parliamentary elections last year with billboards declaring that same politician as the savior of Lebanese Christian. I always thought that guy was Jesus.

Of course, with everything that’s happening in Lebanon lately (can you imagine they’re banning alcohol-mixed energy drinks?), such posters are very low on the importance scale. But it’s the concept behind them that’s sad: the fact that some people have a need to show their undying devotion to their politician by spending a ton of money on flashy billboards; the fact that such billboards are actually allowed to grace our highways; the fact that the entirety of the situation we’re in hasn’t deterred people from actually viewing our politicians as men of principles.

It’s silly, I guess, to assume that we could have regulations to counter such propaganda, especially given that such regulations would be put in forth by those who are served by this propaganda. It’s even sillier to assume that those with money and decent enough means won’t do such things to try and get positions of power. It’s their country, we just live in it. They don’t even care about the unnecessary provocation that such campaigns entail at a time when such provocation is the last thing we need. Of course, the people behind such billboards and messages probably couldn’t care less since they are immune to whatever might happen subsequently to their schmoozing.

In another world, I’d have liked to believe our politicians are beyond such petty, silly and immature tactics. But our experience with them over the past few years has proven that they are not beyond such childish games. It’ll only be a matter of time before the next one comes up with flashier and bigger slogans while we observe and watch as they play their little “mine is more popular than yours” game as the country burns.

This isn’t about Samir Geagea and his poster. It’s not about him being a man of principle or not. Any Lebanese politician could have such propaganda take place any time, any day. I’m not venturing out around Beirut and the country much but I would assume each specific region’s politician of choice has his own set of billboards proclaiming him as the next coming of the Messiah, proclaiming their turf and making you feel like an outsider in the process.

Of course, our politicians and their posters are getting increasingly irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Their supposed “principles” – whether in action or on billboards – aren’t translating to our political and social realities in any way whatsoever, leaving the country in limbo, on the precipice of collapse and the people in it on guard all the time, at the ready to latch at each other’s throats when the green light is given. What principles are we talking about here? I guess the first one that comes to mind is “all flashiness and no substance.” Now how about you print that on a billboard with all their smiling faces?

 

The Lebanese Government Doesn’t Want You To Get iPhones

iPhone 5C and 5S

It wasn’t enough for Lebanon’s iPhone users had to deal with the device not being officially released by Apple in the country yet with exorbitant prices and no customer service for their device. Starting in June, regulations have made getting their device into the country harder than ever.

The iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C were released recently around the world to massive customer reception. Their prices in Lebanon, however, are about $1100 for the 16GB version of the iPhone 5S and $720 for the 16GB version of the 5C. To compare, the 16GB version of the iPhone 5S in the United States is $649 whilst the same version of the 5C retails at $549.

Many Lebanese, like yours truly, refuse to succumb to these black market prices and a government which couldn’t give a rat’s ass as long as it’s making enough money for the people running it to remain afloat but still convince everyone that their beloved regulations are in our best interest. Therefore, we buy our devices from abroad and wait for someone to bring them into the country.

Prior to June 2013, that process was as simple as it gets. The phone would come in, we’d unbox it, put it our simcards and we’d be up in running in no time. Today, getting the phone into a state of functionality means getting it registered by a procedure that is retarded but still somehow makes sense for those in governance. Why so? Because they want to take back the millions lost through phone smugglings. How so? By screwing every Lebanese over in the process both bureaucratically and financially.

According to Twitter user Wissam Chidiak, @Fletchergull, the iPhones 5S and 5C don’t get the same treatment that other phones in the market do. Their price tag wasn’t enough, so our government is making it even harder to get an iPhone in Lebanon.

Say you got an iPhone 5S from the United States and wanted to bring it into Lebanon, your passport must not have any other phone registered to it in the past 6 months in order to get the phone working on Lebanese networks. The iPhone 5S or 5C, in order to be registered, take up all 3 phone spots that you are allowed on your passport for a 6 months duration. You won’t be allowed to bring in any other phone to the country if you’ve traveled within that timezone.

Furthermore, the passport being used to get the phone up and running on Lebanese networks must not have entered the country prior to September 24th. The iPhone 5S and 5C were launched on September 20th. Technically, a Lebanese could have had them in the country by the 21st. He wouldn’t have been able to get them registered, however, because that’s what our telecom ministry wants.

Mr. Chidiac has contacted both alfa and Touch, Lebanon’s only telecom operators, who confirmed on separate occasions that the aforementioned regulations are, indeed, true. They were adamant, however, that those regulations are not operator-based and are entirely enforced by the telecom ministry. Chidiac has also tried to contact minister Sehnaoui on Twitter via direct messages, which the minister couldn’t not have read, public mentions of those direct messages which anyone could read. The minister has failed to reply.

You could say that these regulations are in place given that the devices are new and all. But even that argument runs moot with our government because other newer devices do not suffer from the same treatment. Samsung’s Note 3, which was released on September 25th – 5 days after the new iPhones, can be registered with passports that have entered the country prior to the phone’s release. It also takes up only one phone slot out of the three you are allowed. Perhaps our telecom ministry wants to gradually but surely enforce one brand upon the Lebanese population simply due to availability and ease of access?

Our telecom ministry is proud of the advancements that have taken place recently, as is their right, despite some of those achievements having a big “however” plastered all across them – the 4G network comes to mind. At the rate we’re going however, I’m longing for the day when I was able to simply pop in a sim, get it to work then remove it and have my phone “liberated” as is, when my  freedom as a customer to buy whatever I wanted from wherever I wanted, within Lebanese law, was still cherished and not subject to demented, silly and retarded regulations that only serve to inflate the pockets of those benefiting from them. Those regulations, Mr. Sehnaoui, not the 4G network, will be your legacy when you’re a minister of telecom no more.

Spotted in Harissa: Labbayka Nasrallah

I guess it must be completely natural for religious people to go to Harissa. Even I feel like going there sometimes. There’s just something about the serenity of that place.

I also guess it must be completely natural for religious people to bring their political zeal with them to churches and mosques. Checking such stuff at home is way too mainstream lately.

It must be completely normal also to bring sharpies, permanent markers and express such political ideologies on the walls of religious establishments because a support for a politician cannot be sufficient except when it’s coupled with graffiti.

The following was spotted at Harissa:

Harissa Nasrallah

Picture via @JessyGeagea

And to think those prayers were the worst thing being written on the walls of Harissa.

 

How Can I Get Credible News in Lebanon?

Q: How do you know a person’s political/sectarian/whatever affiliation?

A: Just look at the news they read/watch/get exposed to.

With near 12 hour shifts at the hospital, I’m having less and less time to be exposed to all different news sources in order to get the gist of what’s happening in this country. For a while, this didn’t bother me. I figured the less I know about current politics, the better. My parents were also happy I wasn’t going to get myself in trouble.

The sentiment didn’t last long. You just can’t logically remain disconnected from what’s happening here. Many Lebanese people are in the same boat: they don’t have time to read different sources and settle for one.

It was either I settle for the rhetoric that I enjoyed the most and made me sleep better at night, like a lot of people out there, or I simply don’t. I chose the latter. So I subscribed to a bunch of news services that sent me daily bulletins. Some send these bulletins several times per day as an agglomeration of articles from different sources. It eventually became a habit of mine to click on the flashy headlines, read the first few sentences and try to guess the source. I have an accuracy rate north of 95%. Move over Layla Abdul Latif. Is that how it’s supposed to be?

The other day, a friend of mine sent me something he figured I should write about: a former MP cutting down parts of the Cedar forest for his son’s wedding. I scanned through the article and then checked the source. It was Al-Akhbar, a newspaper that had that very same day turned a “scoop” they got of Samir and Sethrida Geagea allegedly divorcing into one of the worst articles I have ever read.  I immediately dismissed the news. I wasn’t going to touch that with a ten foot pole. The following day, the news turned out to be true because it was reported with pictures by several other sources.

Our news services rehash news in different ways when it’s a slow day and they’re bored. On August 4th, MTV reported on a “quarrel” in Tripoli during a public iftar at Al-Nour roundabout using the same material they used in a report from March 12th of that same year.

When it comes to  Tripoli, our news reporting was as horrible as it goes as well. When the fights were new, they were all over them. Then they got bored – and they figured everyone else should be bored as well. So they stopped reporting. Despite nights during which 1000s of mortar shells were dropped on the city, our media remained silent.  My friends had thought the worst thing happening in the country at that time was the electoral law debate. And, in the off-chance that they actually report something, they make it sound like the city is the Lebanese brand of Kandahar, in its own mood of civil war.

On April 1st, MTV ran with some news that was their take on April Fools. Other news services in the country didn’t bother double-checking and simply jumped on the story. As their attempt to save face later on, they said they contacted several entities in order to double check and whatnot. Odds are they didn’t. But who cares? There’s no accountability when it comes to our news anyway.

How does MTV report oil prices going up? “Gebran Bassil has raised oil prices.” How do they report them going down? “Oil prices have gone down.”

How does OTV report the same thing? “Oil prices have gone up; Gebran Bassil has brought oil prices down.”

How does Future TV refer the Syrian regime? “Shabbi7at el Assad.

How does Al-Manar address the Free Syrian Army? They are eaters of hearts, brains and other body parts.

How does a newspaper like Al-Diyar still exist? I don’t know.

How can I get the news without doubting every single sentence that I read? How can I get the non-editorialized and sensationalized version of all the pieces that should inform me about what’s happening in this country? How can I get news intros that are not written in an Arabic language whose words hold twenty five different meanings in each letter?

I can’t.

Lebanon Is Not Egypt

The title is stating the obvious. Sadly, it’s not that apparent.

It was 2011. The Egyptians took it to the streets. They removed Mubarak. A sense of pride swept around the Middle East. The “Arab Spring” they called it. Freedom this way comes. Everyone wanted to be Egyptian. Everyone was proud of Egypt.

But none so more than Lebanese.

We felt more involved in what was happening in Egypt than whatever was happening back home. Fun fact: January 2011 was our own mini coup happened. Many Lebanese wished they could become Egyptian – patriotic opioids sure run across borders.

A few months later, as the events in Syria raged and the promise of an “Arab Spring” started quickly running down wintery lanes, Egypt disappointed as well. The Lebanese sentiment quickly turned to “Morsi” et au revoir. We had gotten over it.

It is now 2013. The Egyptians took it to the streets again. They were protesting the Egyptian “winter” they had voted their country into. And Lebanon was involved anew. Nothing was wrong here at the time again. Fun fact 2.0: The army was fighting Al Assir only a few days ago and Hezbollah is still fighting in Syria. Morsi was uprooted very fast, with the help of the Egyptian army. And fireworks erupt in Lebanon in celebration. The same sentiments of people who wish to be Egyptian rose to the surface. Egypt, the beacon of democracy. Egypt, the torch of hope. Egypt, making us proud. Bigadd kan el manzar mofre7 awi awi. 

Then, naturally, you get those many, many people who want whatever happened in Egypt to happen here. If they did it, why can’t we?

Well, here’s why.

Egypt is 100 times Lebanon’s size. It has 20 times its population. That population in question is divided in the following way: 90% is Muslim and 10% is Christian. Official positions in Egypt are not divided according to sectarian lines. The president, for instance, doesn’t need to be Muslim. He just happens to be every time by power of probability and mentalities.

The recent events in Egypt were bolstered by a catalyst that sped up the process remarkably: the Egyptian army. Roadmap or whatnot, it is the presence of a strong army with centralized military power that helped the 30 million or so Egyptians who protested get to where we want. Which army will help us in Lebanon if we were to have similar coups? The Lebanese army with its 60,000 personnel many of whom have ammo-less weapons while militias roam the country freely, protected by their weapons and popular support?

Moreover, I don’t believe the issues in Egypt are as politicized as they are over here. Case in point? Let’s examine the following scenarios:

What do you want to protest about in Lebanon? Electricity? I’ve just made the issue political right there. Half of the Lebanese population won’t go to my protest, even if the demands are true, simply because they’ll see it as a protest against their poster child. Let’s say I want to protest against slow internet. That same 50% of the Lebanese population will turn a blind eye to my protest for those same reasons. Now let’s say I want to protest against people like Ahmad el Assir. I’ll be joined by that same 50% which boycotted my last 2 protests while the people that attended the first two will not. In case my protest doesn’t have some undertone supported by one of the main camps of the country, good luck finding ten people to attend it – regardless of what the activists that pop up right before elections every four years say. And God forbid I try to protest against militias and arms that exist outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese state, which brings me to my next point.

There are no issues in this country upon which enough Lebanese agree in order to cause change. Hezbollah’s weapons? Half of the country hates them. The other half adores them. The weapons stay. It’s that simple. The regime? the governing half doesn’t want it changed because the people it likes are in power. The other half wants it changed just because the people it likes are not. What alternative regime do we want? I’m willing to bet I can’t find a sizable portion of this country that can agree on a format. You only need to go back to the electoral law discussions and how very, very few Lebanese branched out from the rhetoric being spewed by their political party of choice (especially Christian parties) when it comes to the electoral law they see best. Party say, person do.

Egypt not being as divided on sectarian lines as Lebanon means the sectarian sentiment that is overflowing here doesn’t exist as much there. Sure, many Egyptian Muslims hate the Copts (and vice versa) but the same exists in droves over here while we pretend otherwise. The sectarian sentiment overload doesn’t only cloud people’s judgement regarding so many things in the country, it also limits whatever actions they would be willing to do to what’s best for their sect. Sect say, person do. Case in point: the amount of non-religious Christians who wanted the Orthodox law, of non-religious Sunnis who believe their sect is being threatened and of non-religious Shia who’d be the first to take weapons if you approach Hezbollah.

Moreover, many of those same people who want Lebanon to become Egypt would, in case elections happened next week, vote for the same people all over again. I’m not saying they shouldn’t vote for whoever they want to vote for. It’s their vote, their choice, they can do whatever they want with it. But it is downright hypocritical to preach for change and not act out on it when the going gets tough just because some people cannot fathom not voting for the people they’ve liked for years.

What I thought people learned back in 2011 is that the models of the countries in which revolutions happened cannot be applied here: you cannot extrapolate Egypt onto Lebanon. And yet people seem to want to do it anyway. The fact that Egypt and Lebanon are incompatible doesn’t mean one is better than the other. It simply means that if any change were to be done in this country, we need to find our own formula. As of now, we have none. Lebanon is not Egypt and I, for one, don’t want it to ever be.