Myriam Achkar’s murder earlier this week was truly a horrific crime, the tragedy of which can only be grasped by her family and those who knew her. Earlier in the week, she was a regular 27 year old woman, going about her life normally. She prayed, she partied, she lived her life abundantly.
And then her life was taken away from her by a racist psychopath who happened to be working at the Convent she went to pray at. Very few people can understand losing someone so young so suddenly. But perhaps I can shed a light on that. After losing my uncle to a murder as horrific as this back in 1999, I’ve seen how hard it is for your family to come to grasp with the reality of their loved ones finding this horrible untimely ending, for them to see their body maimed and mutilated almost beyond recognition. Sometimes with death, you find closure in seeing a person’s body be serene and somehow smiling as they pass on. But to know that your daughter’s body has been violated and that her death was not peaceful is something that will haunt Myriam Achkar’s mother and family until the day they join her. And at the end of the day, no condolences can ever be enough.
No, this is not a post to only mourn a person we didn’t know. This is a post by a Christian, who was at times called an angry Christian blogger, to say that Myriam Achkar’s murder was not an act by an anti-Christian Syrian against a Lebanese Christian. Myriam was not killed because she was carrying a rosary and a bible and going to pray. She was murdered because she happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, falling to the hands of a sick predator.
I’ve seen Lebanese media go on and on again about how Myriam Achkar is a new martyr on the altars of Christianity. And while the idea does seem pleasing for many, it will only spring up hate and more sectarian divisions in the lines of a country that has as fragile a unity as it can be. Myriam’s death was that of a woman who fell to the pangs of a rapist. Our media tends to overblow things out of proportion by looking at the background baggage that everyone has.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to lessen her murder. If there’s anything we can take out of this death, it’s not that of a Christian martyr, it’s that of a girl whose life must be a lesson to everyone that our borders, our regulations, our laws cannot be as “open” as they are.
First, why is it that this particular convent in Sahel Alma chose to hire a Syrian to be its keeper of the grounds. Couldn’t they have found a needy Lebanese family that would have gladly taken the job? To say that many Lebanese find it beneath them is, based on many observations, a myth. I’m from small-town Lebanon. I’ve seen small-town Lebanon and it is not as high-class as people think all of the Lebanese are. There are Lebanese women who want to work in houses to clean. There are Lebanese men whom you can hire to work in your land. The difference between those Lebanese and the Syrians? We tend to overlook the Lebanese because they are ask for more expensive fees and because the Syrians are more numerous. But should a Maronite convent even care about finances? I, as a Maronite, would be appalled by my Church if it didn’t help out needy Lebanese families, at the very least, to get a job. Couldn’t they have found someone in the neighboring villages of Keserwein to work as the janitor in the Monastery?
Second, why is it that Syrian workers can come to the country as they please, do what they please and then leave? Why is it that many working visas are rejected for so many applicants from so many different countries and yet Syrians can come to Lebanon, unchecked and start working? Why is it that many foreign friends of mine have to struggle to get their work papers in order while Syrians have to do nothing while Lebanese workers who go to Syria have to go through as much red tape as other foreign workers?
Third, why is it that parts of our government are more readily willing to kill off CIA members than to seek out Syrian intelligence filth that are spread all around our nation, causing us more harm by killing our women and men that the CIA has ever caused?
Why is it that the value of Lebanese youth’s life is so lessend by certain political parties in Lebanon that they’d rather smuggle the Syrian who killed Myriam out of Lebanon than to get him to face his crime?
I do not approve of what the people in Ketermaya did to the Egyptian who killed off a whole family last year, by killing him in front of the whole town to see. I do not approve of civilians taking justice in their own hands, as many are asking regarding Myriam Achkar’s murder. But it’s so hard not to ask for that and say they do have a point when the Syrian Intelligence killer was attempted to be smuggled out of the country. It is very difficult to think that this murderer will get preferential treatment, that the life of Myriam Achkar is useless, that her murderer will never face justice – just because you have people INSIDE Lebanon who care more about the feelings of Bashar Assad’s men than about the lives of their fellow countrymen.
Myriam Achkar is a martyr for Lebanon. She is not just a martyr for women around the region. She is a martyr for every Lebanese and a cautionary tale that we really need to stop giving preferential treatment for certain nationalities just because we are neighboring countries while nationals of that country have caused us so much harm. No, it’s not racism. I’m not calling to ban all foreign workers from coming to the country and taking them out of their houses like the municipalities of Burj Hammoud did. I’m calling for limitations, for reservations and for regulations.
Until then, rest in peace Myriam Achkar. That is all we can say to her. As for everyone else, hopefully some new dawn for Lebanon will be one where the struggles of everyone are seen equally.