AUB’s “Insight Club” Promotes Homophobia, Wants An Islamic Curriculum & Warns Men From Being Touched By Women

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Earlier this week, AUB’s Islamist club which called itself “Insight”, but it ironically lacks any, was supposed to hold an event to discuss homosexuality featuring two Islamist speakers who advocate, in 2017, for electrical conversion therapy as a possible way to “cure” homosexuality, among other things.

The American University of Beirut should have known better not to let a club foster borderline hate-speech, rooted in all the non-science possible, from two “scientists” going against everything that acknowledged scientific facts stand for. But I’ve learned not to hope for much from a university who’s more worried about its bottom line, than the protection of minorities in its campus and preventing the perpetuation of horrifying dogma that has no place inside its campus.

The outcry was deafening, leading to the club to cancel the event under the guise of them “receiving threats.” Yeah, right.

Except AUB’s Insight Club didn’t stop there, releasing a video earlier this week as well that wants men not to be “ashamed” of telling their female friends not to touch them. Because, clearly, the problem in our societies is that men are being touched by women without their consent. I mean, it’s common knowledge that those women force themselves on men all the time, isn’t it Insight club? So much Insight, I can’t even.

The video, 40 seconds long, features a boy named Karim who has been best friends with Reem since their first day at AUB, except Reem – THAT SLUT – has become so comfortable around Karim that – THE SCANDAL – she’s used to holding his hand sometimes.

But Karim – THE SAINT – knows that he should stop this. Keep in mind, Karim is “open mind.” He wears a NYC shirt. I mean, has Karim ever been in NYC? One wonders. I would bet he hasn’t, because his brain would have been fried by the amount of SIN – Allah have mercy – that is present in that city. I mean, gay people can hold hands. Straight people can hold hands. Transgender people can hold hands. Women can even legally walk the street without a shirt or a bra.

Anyway, Karim is conflicted. He wants to tell Reem that he doesn’t want her to touch him anymore, but she’s the problem. Every time he takes away his hand, she forces herself on him. What a problematic woman. And then when he thinks about talking to her about it, Karim decides to go all Lebanese ghetto with his “man” and “bro.”

This is the video:

It wasn’t even the only video they’ve had. In another one, they are criticizing the curriculum of the university as being critical of their religion. This time, it’s Toufic who does all the wondering:

It’s AUB’s Islamist club’s right to exercise their free speech. But it comes at a point where one wonders: if you’re this annoyed by secularism and progressive values (with a slight tear being shed at progressive designating a man and a woman interacting), then why the hell are you a student at the American University of Beirut, an institution that is as far away from being a religious institution as it goes – the Bible verse on its main gate and its Christian history aside?

If you want Islamic values to be taught in the classroom, go to one of Lebanon’s Islamic universities and indulge yourself. If you want extreme Islam to be your way of life, then I’m sorry to inform you that you chose the wrong university, bro.

The above video is spreading a radical agenda. It’s not even how most Lebanese Muslims go about their lives, as they tend to be on the more moderate side of the spectrum. The problem here is that the American University of Beirut, fresh from its $700,000 settlement with the U.S. government,  has its name affixed to such a video, spreading such a message, and to a club who’s doing its best to decimate all the values that AUB stands for.

Should AUB close them down? That would be a limitation of their freedom of speech, even if their speech is worthy of being propagated as the insight-lacking Insight club is offering nothing new, apart from being backward, ridiculous, and radical.

Since when are openly religious clubs, spreading radical religious agenda allowed at the American University of Beirut? What’s next, having a club call itself Crusaders take place in the university calling for it to go back to its Protestant past?

AUB, if you keep allowing such clubs to fester on your premises, you risk your entire secular reputation that you’ve worked years on trying to maintain. It’s horrifying that a time when clubs such as AUB’s secular club give hope in what this country could be one day, the university allows this to happen.

I guess the most appropriate response is:

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Minister Of Culture Allows Demolition of Beirut’s Iconic “The Red House” & Destruction Is Already Underway

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Almost a year ago, the story of Beirut’s “Red House,” near Bliss in Hamra, was spreading like wild-fire. Most of us had taken the place’s existence for granted, as we walked by it on our way to university or on our excursions around the area.

But back then, the iconic “Red House,” which housed Ras Beirut’s Rebeiz family for generations, was under threat from some parts of that same family who had inherited the house and wanted to use the plot on which it existed to build yet another high-rise.

Luckily for us, the Ministry of Culture, through former minister Rony Araygi, responded to the pleas of those who advocated for the house to be preserved for its cultural value and placed the location on its list of protected sites around Beirut.

That changed in February.

For absolutely no justifiable reason whatsoever, new Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury decided that the house wasn’t worth being a protected site in Beirut and, through the strike of a pen, removed it from the list of protected buildings around the capital with decree #32 on February 3rd, 2017, with it becoming valid when it was published in Lebanon’s Official Gazette on March 16th.

I wonder, who are we supposed to entrust with our culture and heritage if the Ministry of Culture couldn’t care less about the history of the country it’s supposed to be preserving? I mean, if a house that is as old and as preserved as the Red House can’t find its way onto a governmental protected list, then what’s left for sites whose history can’t advocate for them as much?

Is it maybe because the current owners are probably friends with PM Hariri and lobbied him into getting his Minister of Culture to do this?

As a reminder, the “Red House” is more than 300 years old. It was the beacon of one of Ras Beirut’s main matriarchs throughout the 19th and 20th century. It had a pivotal role in the politics of the area for more than 5 decades. It was the house of Ras Beirut’s mokhtar for over 50 years. It was where Louis Armstrong had dropped by for a visit during his Beirut stay.

The owners cite family feuds in the struggle over the “Red House.” But the truth is they don’t want to take over the property simply to kick out their family member who was living there, which is something they’ve accomplished months ago. They simply want to destroy the property.

In fact, Michel Rebeiz, now 94, who grew up there and whose mother was one of the more important matriarchs of Ras Beirut, still goes there every morning to check on his childhood home before it is no more. Neighbors around the area tell of him leaving with his eyes swollen as he laments what all of his history is turning into.

The truth is, however, that the “Red House” was never protected. Even when the Ministry of Culture labeled it as a protected site, sources say that attempts to demolish it were still underway. In fact, the following pictures were reportedly taken BEFORE the new minister had allowed the demolition but before:

So much for governmental protection.

Following its designation as a protected site, police officers from the Hbeich precinct did a surveil of the place. Their report is invaluable to show the illegal activities that have taken place on the property even when it was under governmental protection. Unfortunately, as regular citizens we cannot access such information.

The good news is that it’s not too late, yet. We can still get our Ministry of Culture to overturn their updated decision and to protect the “Red House” once again. The collective history of our capital and the landmarks that still stand testimony to it is more important than the money some people can make through backroom deals and under-the-table agreements.

Beirut is being destroyed every single day by contractors and politicians as well as people who couldn’t care less about anything other than their bottom line. The solution for such entities is a strong governance that puts them in their spot. It’s high time we get that, and the city we deserve. The “Red House” is our history. It’s horrible that even our history can’t survive our current corruption.

The Very Scandalous Things On Our Middle Eastern Laptops and Tablets: A List To Help The U.S. and U.K. Governments

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The American and British governments have decided overnight to not allow passengers boarding airlines flying directly to their countries from Middle Eastern and some African countries from carrying on them ANY electronic that isn’t a phone or medical equipment.

The countries affected are: Lebanon, KSA, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, among others.

So to make the work of those countries easier, I figured I’d compile a (non-comprehensive) list of all the very scandalous things they will find on our laptops and iPads.

1. A poorly deleted porn browsing history.

2. 23 different google searches for “is this mole on my chest cancer?”

3. The discography of some pop diva we would never admit listening to unless waterboarded.

4. Game of Thrones and everything related to it.

5. Bookmarked BuzzFeed quizzes in order to determine how our life will be.

6. Compromising photographs we thought we had deleted but which have never truly disappeared.

7. The entirety of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Will & Grace, and Seinfeld.

8. Two hundred and ninety four cat doing cute things videos.

9. Thirteen cat doing extremely cute things videos.

10. The occasional video about puppies.

11. A folder for memes.

12. A folder for gifs.

13. Entire convo threads about how bitchy our boss or our colleagues are.

14. Family WhatsApp groups filled with “jokes” in Arabic. PS: those are not religious verses.

15. A ton of screenshots of Instagram posts of people we hate/are jealous of.

16. A ton of screenshots from conversation with friends that we sent to other friends for gossiping
purposes.

17. Selfies. A lot of selfies.

18. Plenty of blocked Facebook games.

19. 12 Facebook friend lists to sort our messy social presence.

20. More muted people on Twitter than we’d like to admit.

21. Google searches about how screwed we are now that Trump has happened.

22. Google searches about whether those Google searches might get us in trouble.

23. Saved restaurants on Zomato we’ve always intended to try but will probably never do.

24. Wikipedia search results about almost everything pertaining to our university degrees.

25. Motivational posters we’ve saved that we share among close friends, but never to the masses.

26. Plenty of tweets about how said motivational posters are silly. #HypocrisyWho?

27. Subscriptions to the YouTube channels of John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Ellen, and Trevor Noah.

28. Plenty of LebanonFiles (or other news websites visits) to ascertain how messed up our countries are,
and how to adjust our “don’t-give-a-shit”-meter accordingly.

29. WebMd queries about whether one could die from some random thing we felt once upon a time.

30. More selfies.

31. Essays about the plastic surgeries that Lebanese female singers have underwent.

32. Rants about how messed up things are to share with our people.

33. Magnum Opuses about how wonderful things are here for others.

34. Saved images of places we think are here but are probably not.

35. Series we will never admit to have or would watch. That’s one secret I’ll never tell.

36. Dissertations about the series finale of LOST.

37. More than enough to last a lifetime for Harry Potter fan theories.

38. Pinterest boards for ideas we will never see to fruition.

39. Searches of how to become rich?

40. Searches of how to make do with $2 till the rest of the month when it’s still the tenth.

41. A lot of wondering about immigration possibilities.

42. Pirated software because who’d wanna pay $200 for Microsoft Office? WTF?

43. A lot of subscriptions to Western publications that utterly mess up our social media networks’
algorithm.

44. Searches about which countries we can go to without visas.

45. Textbooks we’ve never read and PDF lecture presentations with heavy annotations that helped us get
our degrees.

46. A porn stash we think no one will find.

47. “Lyrics of….”

48. Plenty of “forgot password” links.

49. Photos we took that we think make us photographers.

50. A lot of wondering about why you hate us this much and how further you wanna walk all over us for the fun of it.

John Saad: The Lebanese Filth Whose Favorite Hobby Is To Kick Helpless Cats For Fun

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A few days ago, a video surfaced online of a man luring a poor kitten with some food before he proceeded to kick her across a ledge. With that disgusting excuse of a human being’s act being shared left and right and causing outrage that even our taxes did not cause, he decided he liked the attention, so he shared another video of him doing the same thing again, but this time he showed his face.

I will not share the videos. Someone like this abomination do not deserve any form of attention except to have their faces plastered across the blogosphere to show the world how disgusting their minds and behaviors are.

This man is John Saad. People like him are the embodiment of those in society who trample on those who are weaker than them in order to express their testosterone surges, thinking what they’re doing is a manifestation of them being all macho and powerful. What they don’t know is that this behavior shows them to be what they are: bullies, cowards, lifeless scumbags who should never be interacting with any living creature, apart from themselves, behind bars, somewhere deep and dark.

I’m ashamed to say this filth comes from the same region as me, Batroun. He was a Computer Sciences student at the University of Balamand before dropping out and leaving the university. According to officials there, he has also changed his contact information. Since being unveiled as the psychopath in the videos, John Saad has changed his name and accounts on social medias to someone named Toufic for fear of retribution, before deleting his social media accounts altogether, but he does not know that screenshots are there forever:

John Saad and people like him should be punished. He should not get away with what he’s doing in the slightest. He should be the example to those who think what he did was funny or who support what he did in order for them not to ever think of doing anything of the sort to a helpless creature ever in their lives.

It’s unfortunate that Lebanon does not have animal cruelty laws that could throw this filth in jail. If we were a modern country, this man would be serving years in jail, with a $10,000 fine at the minimum for doing what he did.

But until we feign modernity, which will never happen if we think its only manifestation is Beirut giving the world good food or some of our models doing sexy music videos, name and shame people like John Saad. Tfeh.

Lebanese Politicians Don’t Care About Increasing Taxes:  They Know We’re Voting For Them Anyway & We Won’t Budge As Long As WhatsApp & Arguileh Are Untouched 

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VAT is now 11%. Our parliament is blazing through approving the 22 new taxes and increases that I wrote about a few days ago. Check them out here (click).

Among the other taxes being passed are those affecting alcohol, numerous stamps which increase bill prices, etc.

Among what is remaining unchanged is the salaries and benefits that current and previous MPs and ministers receive, as well as the shitload of money they get from all the deals they make by being part of government. Hurray!

Things are so messed up in parliament that:

• We can’t know exactly what is taking place at the session discussing the tax increase because it is not recorded nor televized,
• We cannot know which MPs voted for which taxes because Samer Saadeh’s request to have that be made available was denied.

The system is so corrupt that our politicians can screw us over as citizens with tax increased while providing nothing in services rendered, making sure the infrastructure we have remains horrible, and our basic rights stripped away.

Have you ever wondered if our politicians pay taxes? Have you asked yourselves why aren’t Lebanese politicians seeking office required to show us their tax returns as is the case in other countries?

Have you ever wondered why our politicians are not required to declare about their conflict of interests going into office? They literally are “voted” into their seats and find themselves rolling in the deep riches, fueling their personal businesses from tax evasion to directing governmental tenders their way. The examples are endless.

And yet, despite this all the level of apathy remains at an all time level and it is across the board.

Our politicians don’t give a shit because we’ve allowed them to be as relaxed as they are. They’ve drowned us in garbage and gotten away with it. They’ve robbed us of our election rights two times, with the third on the way, and they’ve gotten away with it. They make us live in no electricity, horrible internet and barely any running water and get away with it. They threaten our lives with having their goons do whatever they want and run unchecked, and they get away with that too. Taxes are another manifestation, and they are getting away with it too.

Just look at any poll for the fictional upcoming parliamentary elections. The same MPs that are currently representing a given caza are those leading in any done poll. Christians are happy because “bay el kell” is now in charge. Sunnis are happy because Hariri is back. The Shia are happy because no one dares tell their parties off, and the Druze are the Druze.

The Lebanese people have gotten to a “don’t give a shit” point that tax increases don’t get the same level of attention as a sexist list of reasons why you should date them, or a one year old news about their capital’s food. It shows in how our students vote in university elections, how we voted in municipal elections, how it’s still easier for us to be upset online than to do anything about it.

If only they’d taxed WhatsApp and Shisha, then something would have happened.

Lebanese Government Launches Program Allowing Anyone With Lebanese Heritage To Claim Nationality, But Not The Children Of A Lebanese Woman

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Over the past few days, and in their attempt to reconnect the massive diaspora which has any relation to Lebanon back to their great-great-great grandfather’s home country, Lebanon’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants launched a new website (and an app) that allows anyone with a Lebanese forefather anywhere around the world to reclaim the Lebanese nationality.

It’s estimated that the diaspora with Lebanese origins includes approximately 7 million people in Brazil, 1.5 million in Argentina, half a million people in the United States and Colombia, among other countries.

If you go to the website (click), you’ll be greeted with all the hopeful messages about the high worth that the Lebanese citizenship bestows upon someone whose grandfather to the nth degree was Lebanese. Some random person “[remembers their] grandfather’s stories about Lebanon in the  summer – sunny days, warm nights family gatherings, singing, laughing…” because nothing says the right for nationality than to have someone enjoy a midsummer Lebanese night in Faraya.

The website is admittedly appealingly-built. You scroll down for 3 seconds and encounter a button to check whether you’re eligible or not. The eligibility criteria are as follows:

To the backdrop of a picture of a woman, you are told that you need to have a male relative be of Lebanese origins or be the wife of a Lebanese man.

In fact, to make it easier for foreigners to be tempted into trying out their luck, there’s a page which you can check to send in a request for the government to assess whether you’re eligible for the citizenship or not. In that page you’ll find requests for information going back to a great-great-great grandfather and some random uncle that you have. Grandfathers, not grandmothers. Uncles, not aunts. You’re also allowed to upload any data for further relations going way more back than that:

Of course, if you’re a woman of Lebanese heritage that doesn’t fit the patriarchal criteria, your best bet is to find a Lebanese man to marry. As you know, there are a ton of benefits involved in the Lebanese citizenship as detailed by that website.

I mean, they want to guarantee you your political rights, except you can’t vote because they won’t hold elections. They want you to be sure you can own as much land as possible, except you won’t be able to because of all the taxes they’ll throw your way. They want you to be sure you have the right for social security and benefits, except those barely work most of the time, and the list goes on.

To be honest, the only reason the Ministry wants you to become Lebanese again is to increase the number of Christians in the country and stabilize the demographic ratios again. They might as well just add a requirement for your religious background in there to stop fooling anyone.

It’s horrifying that a great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather is more relevant for someone’s nationality claim here than their actual Lebanese mother. Someone who’s a 10th generation Brazilian who has a grandfather from his father’s side who happened to be Lebanese has a claim to become a citizen, but not the children of any Lebanese woman if she marries a foreigner. Someone who has no idea where Lebanon is on a map but who happens to have a Lebanese great-great grandfather can now become a Lebanese citizen, but not the children of a woman who is an actual Lebanese woman.

I’m all for someone who has a rightful claim for the Lebanese citizenship to get it back. It is their constitutional right, after all. But what kind of rights are we talking about here when more half of our country can’t even be included in it? I didn’t know Lebanese nationalities were encoded in the genetic makeup of sperms but not ova.

This program isn’t a disgrace in itself. Our nationality laws are, and it’s high time they change – especially now that there’s a few million Brazilians, Columbians, Argentinians, and what have you, who have no clue what Lebanon is that can suddenly find themselves becoming Lebanese.

Lebanon’s Government Is Adding 22 Taxes To Fund The National Budget, Politicians Are Keeping Their Salaries & Benefits Unchanged

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Lebanon hasn’t had a national budget since 2005. That is our country has been run totally à la laisser faire for the past 12 years. And then comes 2017, when out of all years, our politicians decide they absolutely must pass a national budget when they should be passing an electoral law first.

Part of the national budget to be passed is the wage raise that has been demanded by multiple sectors of the workforce for years. It was promised to them a few years ago when the protests and strikes first began. And even though it’s been years since that promise was made, a huge portion of Lebanon’s workforce still didn’t get what was promised to it.

So in order to fund the wage increase, our government needs further sources of income which can only be through forcing more taxes on the Lebanese citizen. As reported by Lebanon 24, there will be 22 taxes to be added in the national budget of which these are the most prominent:

  1. Increasing VTA from 10% to 11%, which adds 300 billion LL in revenue,
  2. Increasing the price of stamps on phone bills to 2500LL lira which provides 60 billion LL in revenue,
  3. Increasing the price of stamps on judicial records from 2000LL to 4000LL which provides 1.2 billion LL.
  4. Increasing the price of stamps on receipts from 100LL to 250LL which provides 45 billion LL.
  5. Doubling the fees of public notaries, which adds 30 billion LL.
  6. Increasing taxes on cement production which adds 50 billion LL.
  7. Modifying taxes on income and revenues to add 60 billion LL.
  8. Increasing taxes on alcohol to add 60 billion LL.
  9. Adding a 1.5% tax on construction licenses to add 100 billion LL.
  10. Enforcing taxes on passengers leaving the country, whether through land or sea or air, to add 125 billion LL.

In fact, that last tax will also be proportional to your travel class. For anyone traveling more than 1250km to their final destination, a tax will be enforced as follows:

  • 75,000LL for every passenger in economy class,
  • 110,000LL for every passenger in business class,
  • 150,000LL for every passenger in first class,
  • 400,000LL for every passenger in a private plane.

Will that private plane tax apply to our politicians who use their private jets for transport? Let’s wait and see. In fact, how does it even make sense that an economy passenger is going to pay nearly the same tax as a person in business class and only half of the tax that a passenger in first class pays?

It seems even our travels, which cost us a lot more than they should in visa fees because of the horrendous state of our passports, are open season for our government to make it even more expensive and harder for us to leave. $50 is not a joke for frequent travelers or for anyone who had to save up everything that they could to afford ticket prices in a country where that very government has made sure the market is monopolized by one airline carrier.

In fact, while our government passes taxes left and right, on top of new traffic fines, to fund its budget, one thing remains constant, if not increasing: how much our politicians are benefitting from all of this.

Instead of looking inwards at current entities that are government-owned and which could end up generating a ton of money, the Lebanese government looked outward towards its citizens instead. A few weeks ago, MTV Lebanon reported on the current state of Beirut’s Duty free, from which the government only made $20 million over the past decade. The contract in question was with a company owned by a former prime minister. The potential money that the government could have made had the contract for the duty free been fair would’ve been more than what it will make because of the tax increases.

In fact, despite the government needing astronomical amounts of money to fund the wage increase, our politicians are not touching their wages and increases. When other countries such as Greece or Jordan faced similar economical predicaments, their politicians took a wage and benefits cut to help.

Meanwhile, in the land of the Cedars, this is how much money our politicians get in monthly salaries:

  • The president: monthly salary of 18,750,000 Lebanese Liras (LL) ($12,500) –> LL 225,000,000 $150,000 annually.
  • The parliamentary speaker and prime minister: LL 17,737,000 ($11,824) a month –> LL212,844,000 million – $141,896 annually.
  • Each minister: LL12,937,000 ($8,625) a month —> (LL212,844,000 – $103,496 annually).
  • Each MP: LL12,750,000 ($8,500) a month —> (LL153,000,000 – $102,000).

That means our parliament and government costs us $16 million per year in salaries alone. On top of that $16 million figure is a $12 million figure, at the most conservative of estimates, in benefits, for a total of $28 million.

The money waste for our politicians not to do their job doesn’t stop there. A former MP receives 50% of his salary AND benefits for life if he serves one term. If he serves two terms, he gets 60% of that figure for life, and 75% if he serves 3 terms are more. The money that that translates to is about $20 million yearly.

In summary, that’s almost $50 million yearly that we’re already paying for politicians who don’t want it to be affected in any way whatsoever, while they make life for every Lebanese harder than it already is. That money is untouchable.

Keep in mind that the $50 million figure does not include what they make through all the ways they can use their governmental clout to make money via their private business, starting from running governmental run agencies like Beirut Airport’s Duty Free, to many other things.

The state of Lebanese complacency is reaching all-time highs: politicians can rob us of our money, provide nothing in return, rob us of our right to vote because they’re incompetent, and still be sure they’re going to be voted in whenever they let the people vote again.

Read the full new tax law here.