Lebanon: A State of Sectarianophobia

Two Lebanese go out together to have dinner. They had never met before. They know nothing about each other.
The first looks at the second and asks: “what’s your name?”
The second glares and replies: “why do you want to know? You want to know my sect, don’t you?”
The first is perplexed. Wasn’t someone’s name part of the natural process of knowing that someone? Or asking about their hometown?
How can you know someone if you don’t know a minimum of their basic information?
Well for many Lebanese, if you ask these questions then you’re automatically labeled as sectarian filth.

Our society has gotten so afraid of the idea of sects that we tend to see sects everywhere and cower away from them. No, when someone asks you their name, they don’t always seek out to know know your sect. When someone asks you where you come from, their intention is not to always know your sect. Get over yourself.

Our fear from sects doesn’t stop at that. We also have our stereotypes that we associate with every person, depending on their answer to the previously mentioned questions. A Maroun from Mount Lebanon? He must be one of those people who think France should have stayed here. A Hussein from the South? Hezbollah galore right there. A Omar from Tripoli? Saad, Saad, Saad, Saad, Saad.

We ask ourselves not to be limited by our sects and yet, when it comes to it, we limit each other immediately based on our preconceptions. Have you ever tried to have a heated political debate with a Lebanese who drastically disagrees with you and somehow they ended up blaming your sect for your opinion? It has actually happened to me more than once. Somehow, for many people, the idea of thoughts and a mind independent of your sect does not exist. How could it, right? Sects are to blame for everything in the country.

There’s traffic? Blame the sectarian system. There’s electricity outages? Blame the sectarian system. There’s water shortage? The sects must be overly drinking. We are so hell-bent on finding a scapegoat to blame for everything that we have managed to turn sects into monsters hurting our society like nothing else has.

Perhaps our main problem as a society is that we are so afraid of the idea of sects that we see it a monstrous thing that needs to be abolished.
At the end of the day, if me asking for your name makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If me asking for your last name makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If me asking for your hometown makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If me not thinking sects are monsters makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If having political ideas that fit with your sectarian stereotype makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If me not panicking about the mere mention of sects makes me sectarian, then yes I am.
If my ideology being too extreme for you makes me sectarian, then yes I am.

Yes, I am sectarian. But I’ve got news for you… so are you.


Harry Potter e-books Now Available

Rejoice Harry Potter fans. Your favorite book series is now available for your reading pleasure as e-books, which work on any device you own: iPad, iPhone, Kindle, etc….

The news was announced via Pottermore after many surveys for the website’s users asking them about their opinion regarding Harry Potter e-books.
The first three Harry Potter books: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets & Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are priced at $7.96 each. The subsequent four installments: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince & Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are priced at $11.15 each.

The whole collection can be purchased at a 10% introductory discount for $61.65 from the Pottermore shop.

You can also get the books from Amazon for $7.99 for the first three and $9.99 for the rest, but not from Apple’s iBookstore. They probably couldn’t reach a deal with J.K. Rowling regarding shares.

Why is buying the series as soft copies a good idea?
I was the most skeptical about e-books. But when I started reading on my iPad, I found out the experience to be as engaging, if not more, than reading on paper. You can highlight sentences you like, bookmark pages and passages – you can really make the book your own, which is something that I don’t like to do with a paper copy, wanting to keep it in a pristine condition.

At a time when e-books are on the rise, Harry Potter is now catering to the growing market: he future of reading is in soft copies that can be downloaded to your personal device in less than a minute. Those who haven’t read the books, this is your chance to hop on the bandwagon of this cultural phenomenon. You won’t be disappointed.
For those who have read the books, perhaps coughing up $60 for the books is a little unnecessary at this time, but if you feel like you need to own a soft copy of them, then why not, I guess?

Moussa el Sader is Dead. Officially?

For years, supporters of Shiite imam Moussa el Sader had hoped he’d still be alive more than thirty three years after he went missing in Libya on August 31st, 1978.
Al Akhbar is reporting today that documents received by Lebanese government from Libya confirm that Moussa el Sader had died at the beginning of the previous decade due to diabetes complications.

In more details, the imam was taken to the Abou Slim prison in 1997 where he was put in solitary confinement. He started experiencing ailments because of his diabetes but his guards refused to give him treatment. As a result, the imam died soon after.

Al Qaddafi refused to have him buried. So he turned his cell into a fridge, akin to the one used in morgues, and guards were set up for the cell for more than a decade – until the recent Libyan revolution started.
On August 22nd, 2011 when Tripoli fell to the rebels, the Abou Slim prison was heavily bombarded. Moussa el Sader’s cell was destroyed as a result of the bombing and his body was subsequently taken out, along with the other dead people.
Some had reported seeing a man’s body with a cloak and turban being taken out of the premises.

Current efforts to search for the body are underway. The most plausible of scenarios is that the bodies taken out of the Abou Slim prison were buried at known locations due to their rapid decomposition. These sites will be soon excavated to maybe find the body of the imam and return it to Lebanon.

Moussa el Sader founded the political movement “Amal.” He was known for his calls for interfaith dialogue and his constant championing for co-existence among all Lebanese factions.
It’s sad to see his ideology so distorted by the current form of the political movement he started.

Many of us were more than certain the imam was dead. But it is only natural for people to seek closure. Hopefully the certainty of his death brings that to those who need it.

Catching Fire (Book 2 in The Hunger Games) [Book Review] – Suzanne Collins

Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has come out triumphant from the Hunger Games. But at a price. Her last attempt at bringing Peeta and herself out of the arena alive was seen as an act of defiance by the Capitol. And they cannot remain silent.

Going back to her home district, life for Katniss is not easy. Gale, her best friend, keeps her at ice-cold distance. Peeta has also turned his back on her. It is then that President Snow drops her a visit to tell her than on the Victors’ Tour, she needs to convince all the districts of Panem, the dystopian country they live in, that her act to save both her life and Peeta’s was nothing more than an act of love – maybe it could help quench the fires of a rebellion starting to spread across Panem, a rebellion that Katniss isn’t sure she wants to quench.

But there’s a twist. Creeping up on Panem is the 75th Hunger Games, which would be made special by introducing new rules. What could those rules be? How will it affect Katniss and Peeta? And what could the 75th hunger games mean for Panem?

If you thought The Hunger Games, the first book in the trilogy, was addictive, then Catching Fire will get your heart to catch fire as it races through the pages. It is a unique and engrossing storyline; the characters you met an installment ago change as your hands flip through the pages. You cannot but feel the need to root for them. The descriptions are exquisite, thorough and gut-wrenchingly real.

The setting, similar to the the first book, is both real, fantastical and sad. The mood for this book is even darker than The Hunger Games. It is also more concise and poignant. Catching Fire has action, romance, hope, despair and, most importantly, humanity. Political themes are the underlying current of the book but they’re not flagrantly in your face, making it a dense read for adults whose imaginations want to wander off and a light read for teenagers who take it at face value.

With Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins has met the expectations she created for herself with The Hunger Games. The plot is unpredictable in many circumstances and is energetic throughout. In fact, the energy and pace keep on building right to the ending which creates a cliffhanger that will leave you shocked and searching for book three.

The main purpose of Catching Fire is to serve as a transitory bridge between The Hunger Games and Mockinjay, the third book in the series. And it does so perfectly by gradually changing the frame from the first book and creating a new dimension for the author to base the final installment in. Some might feel such transitions do not make great books. I beg to differ. You cannot read Catching Fire just to finish it. You can’t but read it to know what happens.

Within its few hundred pages, Catching Fire has, like its predecessor, humor, treason, death, love, life, loss, pain. “Girl on fire, I’m still betting on you….” How could you not?


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 – Trailer: Bella as a Vampire

Here you go:

It looks like they’re toning down the “love story” approach for the promotion of this final movie and moving more into “Bella is now a vampire” realms.

Perhaps this is the smarter way to approach the final (and most useless) installment in the Twilight story. The final book, to begin with, has nothing going on. It’s a brick (about 800 pages) where Edward and Bella get married and have sex. She gets pregnant and delivers after a record-speed pregnancy during which she almost dies so he turns her. When she wakes up, they have more sex. The baby is thought to be a baby vampire and the rest of the movie is them preparing for a battle… that doesn’t happen. Diplomacy for the win!

Sorry for ruining it for you. Not really.

No, I won’t be watching it when it comes out.

No, it won’t be a good movie.

No, the trailer is not representative of the content of the movie.

Yes, it will make a lot of money.

In a nutshell, watching this movie will hurt your eyes and ears. Caution is advised.