There’s plenty that MTV could have covered in their news: A failed 25th attempt at electing a president, more debate and analysis over the Roumieh torture videos, SaudiLeaks cables, etc… The same applies to any Lebanese TV station, clearly.
Instead of covering what actually matters, however, MTV decides to be offended by a Ramadan series aired on its rival LBC. Why? Because, and I quote MTV, “it’s showing Lebanese in a wrong light by portraying them as racist towards Syrians.”
I’ve watched the video over and over again. I honestly have no idea what that TV station is smoking or what that reporter is drinking or what country Naccache is located in because it sure doesn’t feel like the country I’m in.
This is the report currently making rounds, and which will make your blood boil for its sheer narrow-mindedness, lala landness and utter ridiculousness:
I don’t know about MTV, but let me talk about the Lebanon I come from.
1) A few months ago, my hometown decided to enforce a curfew on Syrians. Because that wasn’t enough, some men decided they wanted to form night guard duties, weapons and all, against those Syrians. It wasn’t even a hidden thing. It was a Ebrine normality. In between their “guard” duties, some of those men physically assaulted many Syrians simply because they existed outside of their rooms beyond their forced curfew. A pregnant Syrian woman had to take permission to go out of her house to the hospital to give birth. And the examples are ever-flowing. You can read this article for more info (link).
2) A couple of years ago, Annahar decided to go around Beirut and ask a few Lebanese what they thought of the Syrian refugee presence in their countries. The result was the following video:
I’m particularly interested how someone saying, and I quote, “there are so many Syrians here we might as well call it Syria,” qualifies as tolerance. Or how “I’m afraid of walking on the streets now because there are more Syrians than Lebanese” is a sign of progressiveness. I digress. Let’s proceed.
3) Since MTV was beyond pissed about how that TV show portrayed Achrafieh, let’s see what was all around Achrafieh just a year ago. Luckily, the internet is a beautiful thing, so pictures are aplenty and here are pictures to you:
Again, I’m trying to see how such signs, years after the withdrawal of Syrian troops and a clear manifestation of Christian xenophobia in a heavily Christian region are an indication of how tolerant and open minded we are as Lebanese.
4) With the influx of Syrians into the country, many municipalities, like mine, decided to start curfews for Syrians. Many took this a step further as well. Some places had political parties also come up with posters for the purpose of doubling down on the increasing Syrian presence in Lebanon:
The posters translate into the following: “No Syrian is allowed in this area starting this date or they’ll be insulted, beaten along with whoever’s helping them.” Another one says: “Boycott illegal labor. Hire Lebanese.”
Nothing was done about this back then. Few were the voices that called these as they were, racist and degrading. But we went about our days normally. Have a TV series give the narrative to a Syrian FICTIVE character? Oh Lord no, our Lebanese oversensitive pride won’t have that.
5) It’s been only two days that the following picture made the rounds on social media. An AUB student took a picture of Syrians and captioned it, on Instagram with filters and all: “Many heads, but no brains. #Syrians.” The outrage at that student was entirely political. I’m willing to bet most of those outraged at him were so simply because his political background serves as fuel to their own political hatred, more so than for them being caring about Syrians per se. But still, it clearly shows that such mentalities exist today and are aplenty.
6) Now that we’ve established that MTV lives in a separate realm of existence (let them talk to Stephen Hawking, he’d be interested), let’s go over a quick survey of the many things we’ve all heard about Syrians and Syria, among people that we all know: Oh look, a Syrian. Oh, there are too many Syrians, be careful. The best thing to come out of Syria is “el festo2 el 7alabi.” And let’s not start with all the homsi jokes, which is when we are taught to be racist towards Syrians the moment we become aware.
But dear MTV, many Lebanese are not racist towards Syrians only. They’re also racist to those of nationalities they deem lesser.
Don’t you remember the guy who wouldn’t shake hands with people who are black?
Don’t you remember that Mothers’ Day ad about special offers on maids?
Don’t you remember the countless MEA reports about racism aboard their airlines?
Don’t you remember the many maids that lost their lives to abusive employers and have no laws to protect them?
Don’t you remember that picture of the purse getting a seat while the maid remains standing as her family has lunch?
We’re not only racist towards other nationalities. We’re also racist to each other. If you walk around MTV’s beloved Achrafieh, you are bound to find plenty of “Ra7 Tdall Jrasna Tde2” graffiti plastered around red crosses. Those newly coated with paint to keep their memory as fresh as their color. Who do you think they’re targeted to? Let’s just say it’s not someone who worships the Cross. For reference, I also have this to look at every morning:
People in Keserwan have endless stories about them chastising “el gharib.” The people of Tripoli are ridiculed by many because of the situation in their city. I have friends from Tripoli who changed their city on their CV because they know it decreases their chances to get hired. But please, tell me more about how we are not racist.
This isn’t to say that every single Lebanese is racist. There are many movements across the country to combat such mentalities. There are many people who are as far from racism as MTV is from being an objective and decent news outlet. The inherent problem isn’t only racism, it’s us pretending that there isn’t such a problem to begin with, it’s outlets like MTV – with substantial power and reach – engorging the ever-growing Lebanese ego, tapping it on the back, and telling it that there’s nothing wrong with you.
Fixing the problem starts with acknowledging it, not being offended by its existence. This is just shameful.
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The Lebanese are so racist toward the Syrians that the latter have made Lebanon their top emigration choice among all neighboring countries 🙂
Some writers don’t have the IQ to cover a story from all sides, or mention the conditions when this racism spiked. No mention of the assaults, theft, rapes…which spiked as more and more Syrians fled to Lebanon with no jobs or money. It’s irresponsible people like this that really piss me off.
If you were in the place of a Syrian who can’t afford to go to any country other than Lebanon or is allowed to, would you rather die at war or go to Lebanon and suffer racist insults?
So well said.
But also, what is wrong with our media? How can anyone be calling for censorship?
That’s really dangerous, that is saying that censorship is good and protects us!!
The media is really getting out of hand and should be stopped, like right now.
And in what world is it an argument that a character in a tv show doesn’t like Fairuz?….I mean lou2lou2it el char’ el awsat and all, but hey..is it an insult not to like her??
Of course we’re racist people..no question. And we’re also people who don’t think and the biggest proof is what can pass on our tv’s. Nothing short of normalized fascism.
racism is a master component of lebanese culture, no doubt about that!!!
You are right at some point but you have to take into consideration the danger that might come with these Syrians.
I am Lebanese and i have Syrian friends but in my point of view the situation in the middle east is not safe and terrorists are coming from Syria( not the Syrian but as ISIS etc..) we have to be careful in order to protect our self and as for refugees the country is way too small to support all of them we already have Palestinians refugees.
But unfortunately the government is not doing its job properly to act with the procedure to help refugees and to take care of them. But in the same time our government is not capable of doing so.
And don’t forget when they first came into the country as refugees multiple bombing and clashes happened this is only a way of self defense maybe because of the minority of “bad” Syrians the majority is suffering but in the end it’s either that or chaos. Since they are a great number.
We might be seen as racist but we must not forget that 10 years ago the Syrians left Lebanon and they weren’t treating us in a civilized manner, and the it’s too early for the injury to seal, for the population and especially for the older generation.
PS: Don’t judge the whole Lebanese because of some paintings on the wall it could have been a 15 years old who just finished watching kingdom of heaven and couldn’t hold his testosterone.
I agree, but I’m not sure “racist” is the word you’d want to use here. “Bigoted” might be more appropriate since biogry is blind, ignorant hatred that transcends skin color