The Lebanese Anti-Syrian “Racism”

“I am apprehensive about the situation of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.”

The aforementioned sentence is enough to get a baggage of racism be thrown on your shoulder by people who believe you are not allowed to address the refugee issue in any way whatsoever unless it is to say they are more than welcome here without anything affixed to that.

The recent surge against all those racist Lebanese comes after an online Annahar video which you can watch here:

The report is very poorly done. Are they seriously filming a ten year old and asking him what he thinks of the Syrian refugees in the country and taking what he said as relevant enough to actually be included?

The way many of the people in the above video formulated their opinion regarding the refugees is unacceptable. But what is also unacceptable is for others to say that the concerns these people tried to convey are 1) racist and 2) invalid. Because, you know, Lebanon is very new to refugees. Those Syrians are obviously the first people we host and their problems are so new we cannot even begin to think dealing with them because of their novelty factor.

It is not only normal to have concerns regarding the refugee situation in Lebanon, it is, in my opinion, the sane thing to do. We cannot keep pretending that 1,000,000 Syrians in the country (Or 300,000 according to UN) is a walk in the park, with no prospective effects and no current effects in any way.

If you mention the Lebanese people who lost their rented homes because their landlords got better offers from Syrians, you are racist. If you mention the jobs that skillful Syrian physicians, accountants, architects and whatnot took out of Lebanese people, you are racist. The list goes on. It is obviously not the Syrians’ fault but it is an effect that some people don’t want to allow us to discuss. Because racism, racism everywhere.

When does this categorization of Lebanese who are critical of the current situation stop?

On the other hand, the categorization against the Syrians is unacceptable as well. Our country’s problems are not dependent on them and them alone. Not feeling safe while walking on a street is not because of the Syrians but because Lebanon is not a safe country with or without them. You can read this story that a friend of mine had to go through while walking in Gemmayze (link). The economical situation in the country is less the fault of the refugees and more the fault of politicians who are perpetuating the current political instability.

The borders should not and will not be closed for they are non existent and it would be grossly inhumane. The Syrians don’t want to come here. They are forced to come here. There is no way to regulate their influx as I had said before (link). They are here knocking at our doors with a riffle in their backs. If we don’t let them in, they get shot. There is no Syrian civilian entry to Lebanon that is not an emergency. The only thing that we, as Lebanese, can do regarding the refugees is have discussions.

The Syrians hosted some of our people in 2006. Of course they did. And we are thankful. But them hosting us back then is akin to a billionaire giving a poor person $100 and asking him to be eternally grateful for that. They were able to handle the thousands of Lebanese that entered their territory for a period of about three weeks.

Lebanon, a country that can’t even handle someone like Ahmad el Assir or even the poverty of people in places like Bab el Tebbane and Akkar and the South, cannot handle one million extra person who need help.

It is a Lebanese’s right to be wary and worried and apprehensive. The way that worried Lebanese formulates his or her worry and apprehension may differ and it may be unacceptable but those who don’t feel this way are similar to an ostrich with its head so far down the sand it can’t even manage to get it out anymore.

Now cue in those will call me racist. They wish….

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22 thoughts on “The Lebanese Anti-Syrian “Racism”

  1. You are putting words in the anti-racism activists mouths that they have no said themselves ( at least most of those I spoke with )

    They are not fighting the concerns of people, most of the activists themselves have tons of concerns about how to best handle the influx of refugees. They are fighting the racist words and solutions that people suggest to dealing with the problem.

    I mean it is not racist to say ” the influx of refugees might create socio-economical problems and we have to figure out how to deal with that “, but it is racist to say ” therefor we should close off our border ” ( not caring that this will probably mean they might die form the conflict ).

    > When does this categorization of Lebanese who are critical of the current situation stop?

    When those Lebanese, among other things, stop suggesting we close the border and let refugees deal with it in their own country (which is exactly the kind of racist solution you did not give).

    my 2 cents.

    Reply
    • Syrians hosted some of our people in 2006 because they have VAST lands the country can handle, we CANNOT handle anymore refugees security wise and they r like half of the lebanese population including palestinians
      other countries have MUCH less than we have here and they can handle MORE than we do yet they started to worry about it
      y ONLY us who have to worry about them ? when other countries worry abt it they r not called racists but if we do, what a mess lebanese r racists!! right ?

      Reply
      • Yeah that’s the idea I was trying to illustrate. We are all compassionate with the refugee situation but comparing the 2006 situation to the 2013 one is invalid and non-representative.

        Reply
        • > comparing the 2006 situation to the 2013 one is invalid
          Of course it is invalid.

          We should not be racist even if we did not have a war in 2006, that’s just basic human decency regardless of what happened in 2006.

          Reply
      • I am sure part of the point is lost on me :s
        I really don’t understand what you mean when you say ” when other countries worry abt it they r not called racists but if we do, what a mess lebanese r racists! ”

        *Of course* when other countries do it it is still as racists. Lebanese activists just don’t live in turkey, and don’t vote for turkish deputees and they can’t influence turkish decision and opinion! Lebanese activists will complain when racism happen in Lebanon and anti-racism activists in Turkey are doing the same in their own country!

        I can’t see the world working in any other way.

        Are you suggesting the Lebanese activists should monitor the turkish media (instead of otv and annahar) for racist comments/videos and complain when that happens?

        Reply
        • No I didn’t mean that our activists – bless them – should become activists in Turkey and Jordan.

          I meant that it is a country’s legal right to close off its borders when it feels a certain situation is getting out of hand. We are the only place where things getting of hand is like an elastic rubber. There will be a point when it breaks.

          Reply
    • Seeing as I was merely paraphrasing what I heard people say regarding those “racist” Lebanese, I wouldn’t say I’m putting words in anyone’s mouth. Not all anti-racism activists are saying this as are not all anti-refugees Lebanese racist.

      Based on what I saw from people you are not allowed to address the refugee issue without falling into something such as politics or racism. If you are apprehensive, you automatically support the regime and/or are racist. I haven’t seen any of those people who keep shoving racism down everyone’s throat offer their 2 cents on the refugee situation apart from the typical: “it’s not their fault, let them come.”

      Closing our borders is impossible because we don’t even have those demarcated and, as I said, it would be inhumane. But it wouldn’t be racism if the option was on the table because the socio-economic repercussions that you mentioned would have that item as part of a plan that could tackle them, regardless of whether it’s the best option or not.

      The “racist” Lebanese I was talking about are not all suggesting we close off our borders. They are the people who, like me, believe that the situation as it stands is unacceptable. There’s also a 30 year history between Syria and Lebanon that people cannot disregard just because it’s the politically correct thing to do.

      The solution which I illustrated in a previous post that I wrote back in January (hyperlinked in this piece) is to have neighboring countries assume responsibility as well. Jordan and Turkey have had their borders closed off last time I checked and it’s no big deal – except for Lebanon where all hell turns loose while Jordan and Turkey can give those refugees better conditions than we could ever dream. I suggest you read that one as an attachment to this.

      Reply
      • You are right, it would be perfect, and great and amazing if other people and other countries took care of this problem, unfortunately we have zero influence over what other countries do.

        Again, in my opinion, also regarding your previous article, saying ” all bordering countries must man up and take in some refuges to prevent a human catastrophe ” is right. But saying ” since they are not doing that we should close the border and it is not our problem either ” , is wrong.

        In my limited knowledge, all online accusations of racism by most activists have been towards people saying anti humanitarian things like the second argument, (close the border / no foreigners are allowed out after 8 pm…)

        And you are also right about the poisoned history, because of the history between Lebanon and Syria it is easier for some Lebanese to be racist, but understanding the reason of something does it make it automatically ok, and is no excuse to let it slide without being pointed out.

        Sorry if I have taken too much space on your blog. Won’t be bugging you much on this post anymore 🙂

        Reply
        • I didn’t say the border should be closed. I mean, the border isn’t even demarcated for that to be a remote possibility.

          But other countries talking the talk and throwing everything on Lebanon regarding this matter and expecting everyone to take it like scripture is not acceptable, in my opinion.

          We can’t influence other countries because other countries are happy to have the whole ordeal remain over here.

          No worries. You are free to comment whenever you feel like it.

          Reply
        • I understand what you mean, but maybe I have not been clear enough….

          I do *not* think what *you* have said in either articles is Xenophobic or racist. You have discussed the issue and advocated non racist solutions in my opinion.

          All what I was trying to say is that your concerns are valid and what you are saying in not racist but when others start with the same valid concern *they* are ending up with racist solutions and they are being called out.

          Peace out.

          Reply
    • There are economic reasons with jobs, rent, tourism, etc..,
      There are also social and demographic reasons and the history between both people that isn’t exactly exemplary.

      Reply
  2. The relative amount of refugees is astounding compared to Lebanon’s total population. I cannot think of any examples in post-WW2 Europe, save the war in the Balkans. I would be concerned if hundreds of thousands of people showed up here even though we probably have more material and logistical means to support them than Lebanon. If such concerns are legitimate then I cannot see how that is racist. Turkey and some Arab countries should support Lebanon financially. Better yet they ought to take in these refugees, though that may not be realistic. After all, they have thrown their weight behind the rebels and not in all cases is their support limited to diplomacy. See how tolerant Europeans respond(ed) to the refugee crisis in southern Italy (Lampedusa), a situation which – by all criteria – pales in comparison to what’s going on in your country. Unfortunately I cannot see how these people would go anywhere because regardless of what happens Syria is destroyed and who will return to a destroyed country?

    Should Assad fall I really hope for you the new Syrian government is willing to properly demarcate the border. To me this situation just sounds like a great way for a bigger country to exercise bullying tactics. I guess you choose your house but not your neighbors…

    Meanwhile about a 100 of my fellow passport holders went to Syria to fight. I’d understand it if they are Syrians who want to protect their families but something tells me not all of them are there for just those reasons.

    Reply
    • Exactly! The concerns are more than legitimate and our refugee history is a big enough lesson for concern. The way some people formulate those concerns is not as acceptable as the way you just did but that’s really the point they are trying to get across.
      The response they get is of them being labeled racists. I’m sure someone out there reading this has said the same thing about me because of this.

      Lebanon is not a country which can handle all these refugees on every single level imaginable from demographics to the economy. But we’re not allowed to complain.

      Dutch people have gone to Syria? Why,

      Reply
      • Some people have gone on Jihad holiday before. Yemen, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Somalia have all been destinations. Our intelligence agency estimates around a 100 of (Islamic) Dutch citizens are in Syria. They are largely poorly educated and unemployed. It’s a very, very small percentage of all Muslims, of course. I could cynically say I don’t really care whether such jihadi types get killed by Russian special forces, an American drone, an Israeli commando or even by the SAA. But it’s worrying enough some people get influenced to take such radical steps, and it’s even more worrying what ideological luggage they’ll take back “home”. And like I said I don’t think they went to Syria just to defend family members. They are probably not all Syrians.

        Then again, despite not condoning targeting civilians it sure is ironic to see the Syrian government having to deal with terrorists/freedom fighters/mercenaries. I’d say amusing if it wasn’t for the terrible human tragedy of this conflict. Assad is crazy. Too bad for him there is no Gulf War around to make a fancy deal with the Americans.

        Reply
        • Even in Netherlands! Makes me feel better about my country even though those going from here are not without repercussions 😛
          The exact same “description” of those who are going from your country over to Syria applies here. Except we have much more of them, obviously. The conflict in Syria has become less about liberation and more about sects with the Islamists basically hijacking the entire conflict and changing its color. And when it comes to sects, people who are weak-minded are easily manipulated.
          I mean, imagine yourself as a less educated, more gullible, less rich Protestant and have someone tell you that your “kin” somewhere far away are being killed by big bad Catholics.

          Yeah it is ironic that a terrorist regime would have to deal with terrorism. What goes around comes around I guess.

          Reply

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