The students who left their conflict-torn home in Syria to come get the best education in the region at AUB never thought they’d be silenced in a country which sports itself to be the beacon of free speech in the Near East at a university whose charter boasts about the importance of freedom especially that of speech.
Some AUB students gathered on Monday in support for the Palestinians of Gaza. The sit-in was organized by the Secular Club, the Palestinian Club and the Civil Welfare Club, which is the club of the SSNP at AUB. The protesters were joined by Syrian students from the AUB community who wanted to express their sympathy towards Gaza. A lot of them also happen to be members of the Secular Club.
The protestors held up banners. They shouted against the atrocities taking place in that sector of living hell. They shouted for ears that will not listen, hoping in vain that they do. “The people want freedom.” The students were talking about the freedom of the people in Gaza.
But it wasn’t understood that way.
The freedom that those students sought in AUB and which they thought they had was narrowed down by the narrow-minded hypocrisy of some of AUB’s political parties, representing the agenda of their national bigger heads, to what they believe speech should be about.
Some SSNP students, who were part of the protest, took it upon them when they saw the posters that those Syrian students held to make sure they were silenced for drawing similarities between their struggles as Syrians and the struggles of the people in Gaza… because the posters offended them. “Freedom blowing from Houran to Gaza” offended them. A poster from Deir el Zour offended them. Mentioning the Palestinians of Syria’s refugee camps bothered them. So they tore the posters off. And they beat up one guy and threatened others and ganged a professor whom they knew was with the Syrian revolution because they saw them as a provocation.
Some of the students are still receiving threats today. The same people who threatened a friend yesterday followed him around AUB today… up to the cab that was taking him home where they started shouting and tried to assault him. How longer should AUB students be forced to tolerate the hypocritical stupidity of others who believe only their version of the truth goes?
I don’t know the absolute truth about the politics of it all. I don’t pretend to. But neither do they. I do not think about zionist plans for the region when I think about the situation in Syria. But I don’t mind if they do. I do mind though that they have no problem with people getting killed when it works with their political agenda but have no issue whatsoever with others getting killed just because it serves a purpose they believe is righteous.
Those students seem more knowledgeable about the struggles of the Syrians than the Syrians and they sure as hell know more about the daily struggles of Palestinians than the Palestinians themselves.
Syrians at AUB today are not allowed to speak about the atrocities taking place in their own home without a Lebanese silencing them. They are not allowed to express sympathy stemming from their own struggles towards a place that they can identify with more than others.
Some people may not agree with what those Syrians and Palestinians have to say but they have every right as people first and foremost and as AUB students second to say it especially inside their own campus.
The security personnel at AUB, which is usually very active in stopping such quarrels, didn’t bother. The IDs of students, typically taken in similar scenarios, were never demanded here. The AUB administration which approved the rally that took place within its campus has to take disciplinary measures against those who believe they are above reproach. It is beyond vital for those who think they can silence others this way to face consequences for their mindless actions. It is beyond important for the AUB administration to let the students who were silenced that they care about restoring their voices.
A girl (who is an acquaintance of my friend) took her banner away from her riend and tore it. Forget political affiliations, you don’t do that to a fellow student and especially to someone you know.
True but I wouldn’t do it even if that person was not my friend.
Didn’t the students talk to the administration immediately after this? This is unacceptable!
They did. The dean of student affairs said he will “look into it.”
I find it funny that they were all in the same rally until the attackers saw the banners
Yeah it’s because they didn’t agree with content. Therefore, we attack 😛
The current student affairs administration has no balls to stop this shit…they afraid from SSNP’s influence…i guess this should be raised to the BOT directly…
Dont stand and blame others! its your mistake that u ddnt do anything.. why are u afraid? ORGANIZE A SIT IN FOR SYRIA for instance or back urselves by ure lebanese allies..
the SSNP is a small minority in Lebanon and represented by 2/128 council members.. why the hell are u giving them such importance ? :S + i dont remember someone being beaten up and those being stalked should tell that to their friends or to 14 march people in the uni IF the administration doesnt do anything
No one was beaten. There were 2 quarrels, one almost at the beginning of the sit-in and one at the end.
And concerning what you said, no one would have said anything if it were a sit-in for Syria but it was for Gaza. A lot of my friends who are in the Syrian opposition were also against what happened and all those slogans that deviated the true purpose of the sit-in. When there is a sit-in for Gaza, all are unified to call against the horrors and murders of the Israelis. All are one and all were one before these slogans began.
First, for some to say they were “quarrels” is to make an underlying statement that the two sides of the “quarrel” were equally at fault. No.
What I saw at the sit-in was one large portion of the sit-in carrying banners showing solidarity from Syria with the people of Gaza (like the Lebanese students who were carrying banners of solidarity from Beirut and the South, Syrian students were carrying banners of solidarity from Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, and Deir ez-Zour) and another side that was confiscating them, ripping them, shouting at the students carrying them, and even pushing/shoving these students around. Some students were carrying banners that claimed that their solidarity today was with all Palestinian people, those in Gaza and its camps being murdered by the Zionist murderers, and those in the Yarmouk refugee camp (and other camps in Syria and the Arab world) being killed by the Regime murderers. I believe they have every right in the world to demonstrate their opinion publicly, wherever they were and whoever was organizing, and for the record, those who were organizing the event and prepared the Palestinian flag to be held up were students from the Palestinian Cultural Club and the Secular Club, who had no problem whatsoever with any slogan at all that was being held up because, clearly, both these clubs have no problem with freedom of speech.
Unlike the CWL at AUB (and what it has become – it wasn’t always like this – a cell for the pro-Assad Hamra thugs of Asaad Hardan at AUB that takes directs orders from outside), a club which clearly demonstrated that it does not have an ounce of respect for freedom of thought and expression, one of the main pillars of the AUB. And this includes one of its members who is also the Arabic editor-in-chief of Outlook and is truly a disgrace for this position since she personally took it upon herself to confiscate a poster held by a student because she saw it fit. She clearly believes in freedom of speech. Talk about fascists.
Second (and this argument is being reiterated by those who clearly don’t attend much sit-ins) to claim that the slogans “deviated” the “true purpose” of the sit-in is again to make a big mistake. The sit-in was an open invitation by several clubs at AUB for a stand of solidarity with the Palestinian people in light of recent atrocities in Gaza. Any slogan that was going to be chanted was going to be political – this is a political (as well as of course humanitarian) issue. Some students chanted slogans against Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. Others chanted slogans about George Habash and the PFLP. In short, you could’ve chanted any slogan in the world in that protest, with or against a lot of policies/figures/groups but to even dare to mention what is now the taboo of Bashar al-Assad was the only problem.
Let’s say we were in the same situation but the students were Jordanian students and they were carrying slogans against the King of Jordan for his mistreatment of Palestinians in Jordan. Would it have been a problem? Of course not. It is simply about those that want to defend Bashar al-Assad and maintain this barrier of fear for anyone who dares speak out.
The issue is about speaking out against a taboo. The issue is about freedom of speech. That’s it at the end of the day. The students who couldn’t handle the Syrian students’ solidarity with the Palestinians and calling Bashar al-Assad a murderer for his murder of Palestinians as well should’ve taken it up with the Dean of Students and not taken matters into their own hands. They unmasked themselves for the thugs that they really are.