For Omran

Omran Daqneesh

I see you sitting there, at an age where your biggest woe should be whether your little toy car would beat your friend’s in an artificial race, your tiny legs barely extending beyond the ambulance seat, and you break every piece of my heart in doing so. There’s nothing more I want to see you do than sit in a swing set, using those small legs to kick the ground with all the strength you could muster to go as high as you possibly could.

With your eyes transfixed on a childhood that has been long-stolen from you, you’ve reminded the world that the war that’s becoming synonymous with your upbringing involves people too, that those numbers they see ticking up in their news feeds are not mere figures, but people who are someone’s entire world.

In that moment when you were shell-shocked at everything you’ve lost, you also shocked the world. There has been no stronger emotion. But emotions are fleeting, and they rarely cause change. You and Aylan Kurdi will become symbols, and once they move away from you, once you stop bringing them the hits, you will only remain engrained in the memory of those who care beyond the span of a news cycle.

I’m sorry you grew up Arab. I’m sorry you grew up in a region that has only known conflict, that your childhood is that of war, like the childhoods of all of your people, where you are nothing more than a number, where your tragedy and worth are only as important as the viral picture that emanates from them.

I’m sorry you grew up knowing nothing more than fragility of a status quo, where one moment everything you know is the completeness of your family, and the next everything that you know is buried in rubble, and you’re in the back of an ambulance with the only common denominator is you being alive.

I’m sorry that many only see you as a potential threat, unaware that the horrors you’re going through will leave a scar lasting beyond the attention they bestow upon you, as they go back to the confines of their safe bubble, pointing fingers at your kind, while their children are safe and sound, and will hopefully always be as such, never knowing the meaning of what it is to be in your shoes that are buried under the rubble of everything that you once knew was home.

I’m sorry you have nowhere to go. I’m sorry the places where you’d be safe are places whose people don’t want you, afraid of you talking to their children, going to their schools, breathing their air, drinking their water. I’m sorry that you’re damned if you stay, and damned if you leave. I’m sorry you live in a world where justice is as fictive as books about magic, witches and wizards.

I’m sorry that to them you’re nothing more than a meaningless pawn in their chess game.

Omran - Aylan

Because there are no words in any language that can portray the heartbreak that you’ve witnessed, as a picture of you in sheer shock makes headlines, only to get people like me shaken for a minute or two before they go about their normal daily life, and you go back to yours where you might have a second or third of fourth or thirteenth photo-op but no one to see your shell-shocked face.

Because we have failed you. As a human being, I have failed you. As human species, we have all failed you. As countries around the world, we’ve failed you.

Because you’re not supposed to be sitting in the back of an ambulance, blood streaking down one side of your face, covered in dust, not aware that in that moment you were forever changed, instead of playing with little toy guns with your siblings, in a playground somewhere, like kids your age should be doing.

Because you’re not supposed to be going viral for being traumatized and because your trauma is not supposed to be a discussion topic for us today.

Because I couldn’t hold back my tears when I saw your face while you never did.You’re precious, beautiful, important, loved and this is for you.

To The Lebanese & Arabs Mocking The Siege On Madaya And Its Starving People

Huddled in the Anti-Lebanon mountains, Madaya is a Syrian village housing tens of thousands of innocent people who are being starved to death at the hand of a siege enforced by the Lebanese allies of the Syrian regime. Their strife is not new. They’ve been going through hell for months, eating whatever they can get: leaves, dirt, cats, dogs. International aid groups are calling the famine there the tip of the iceberg of the crisis taking place in that village of 40,000 people, and no one has been able as of now to fully grasp the picture of the human tragedy taking place there.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Forgive the shock value of the following pictures, but the victims in Madaya deserve to have their voices heard on top of those belittling them for being forced to protractedly die.

Today, some Lebanese and other Arabs are pioneering once again.

I didn’t think that there was potential for some aspects of my country to sink any lower, but color me surprised because not only have we done that, no, we have set the standards on how low you can go. Starting now, I beseech the entire world to consider us as a standard for being despicable, inhumane and revolting because it can’t get worse than this, because there can’t be people who are worse than those about whom I’m writing now.

As the news about Madaya’s humanity crisis broke, some people in my country and the region had the audacity not only to stand with the siege, but to mock the dying people of Madaya. Behold a few samples:

 

I don’t know if these creatures are people, because people cannot be so lacking of compassion, of humanity and of any ounce of civility to actually think that their own political agenda is worth advancing by useless social media posts over the frail, cachectic bodies of men, women and children.

I don’t know if these creatures are of the required intellect to be aware of the horror of watching your child die in front of you because you are not able to feed them.

I don’t know if these creatures grasp how horrifying it is to watch your parents waste away in front of you, and you in front of them, because all of you are not allowed to eat.

These creatures are savages whose existence is an abomination, who are not worthy of the air they breathe, the food they eat, the space their bodies are wasting by merely existing.

Ladies and gentlemen, we share the country with entities who cannot rise above their demented, twisted politics even when it’s as clear as the dying body of a child who has lost all color in their face and all the life out of their cheeks. They cannot grasp the notion that there are things in life far worthier than defending what you know at all costs.

Ladies and gentlemen, we live with beings who can fathom making fun of people who are being starved to death just for the sake of being funny.

It’s one thing to be apathetic to the plight of the people in Madaya, but to actively wish them further harm, to actively make fun of them is something beyond words.

I want to never wish them the hunger that the people of Madaya are feeling. I want to never wish them seeing their loved ones waste away in front of them not because of disease, but because of lack of food. I want to never wish them to see their pets being turned to stew. I want to never wish them what they are wishing to the people of Madaya. But I can’t, so here are their names, and their faces.

Do with them as you please. I may not believe, but I believe those people will one day face their reckoning: اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ.

 

 

Dear Donald Trump, Meet My Very Scary Muslim Friends

Donald Trump does not want Muslims to enter America, at least until he can be sure what those Muslims are planning. You know, all 1.5 billion plus of those Muslims. Yes, all of them must be in on that very scary Muslim plan that they conceived one scary afternoon when no one was looking, as they all huddled together and decided that the only thing they’d want to do in their lifetime is not survive because most Muslims are not really living, not make ends meet, not finish school and find a job and try to better themselves, not to build families and communities, not to just pray 5 times a day to Allah and fast Ramadan and be good people just because they should be.

Nope.

What those Muslims have planned is something much scarier. If only anyone knew what that plan is. So Donald Trump, let us meet my very scary Muslim friends together.

This is Oula, on the far left, with her beautiful family.

Oula

Oula is a 24 year old newly graduated doctor, and a hell of a good one at that. She can handle the best of emergencies efficiently. She can save lives effortlessly, and if it comes down to it, she would also save yours in a heartbeat because that’s the kind of people she is. And look at her celebrating Christmas with her family. Do you think that’s part of the plan, too?

This is Mostapha, with his wife Dima.

Mostapha

Mostapha is also a doctor. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders every single day. He worries  about his friends more than they worry about themselves. Mostapha is not only the most selfless person I know, he would probably define the word selfless in a dictionary. He just returned from giving blood to my grandfather, who happens to be Christian. Do you think that’s part of the plan? Infusing their blood into the unknowing masses?

This is Zaher.

Zaher

Zaher helps run one of my country’s most established and known sweets-factories. He’ll send a few kilos of those absolutely delicious Arabian sweets, poison free I promise. Zaher is a father of two adorable little girls, but his main concern nowadays is that the new Star Wars movie be up to scratch.

This is Hiba.

Hiba

Hiba is a dentist, and also the mother of the most adorable two year old you will meet whose name is Sacha. It’s pronounced Sasha, but written with a C. Don’t ask. Hiba’s friends are from all kinds of kinds. She was raised on tolerance, and like her sister Hala, who is also a doctor, practice tolerance in all that they do. I can’t say the same about you.

This is Ahmad with his wife Anya.

Ahmad

Ahmad is a physiotherapist. And he’d probably done one hell of a good work on his back if you asked him to, or probably not. She’s Romanian, so you probably wouldn’t have a problem with her. His main care in the world is providing for his family, in a country where his profession is a cut-throat competition. But you know nothing about living a tough life now, do you?

These are the Syrian refugees your country is receiving in spite of what you want, and they are all my friends too.

They’ve been to hell and back, not only at the hands of the hellish regime in their country and the terrorist forces pillaging their homes and their lives, but also in the bureaucratic process required for them to be granted entry into your borders. You’d do well read their stories on “Humans of New York” except you’re not human, so you wouldn’t understand.

This is Aylan Kurdi. And he too was my friend.

Aylan Kurdi f

As his body adorned the ruthless shores of Turkey, did your conscience budge in the tiniest bit Mr. Trump? Did you think, just for a second, that this was a human being worth of your sentiment and not of your judgment? Or was he just another Muslim, who was in on that big hellish Muslim plan?

I honestly and from the deepest parts of my heart wish on you, Mr. Trump, never to be subjected to what these people had to go through: I hope you never know what it is to see your loved ones die in front of you. I hope you never know what it is to see your home destroyed as you drive away from it. I hope you never know what it is to be stuck in limbo, not knowing how to move on with your life or what to do. I hope you never have your worth as a human be valued by how much you can contribute to a society. I hope you never have to be labeled as a terrorist until proven otherwise when you are ALWAYS a perpetual victim. I hope you never have to deal with the likes of you.

These are the more than a billion Muslim in the world, Mr. Trump, who live in hellish conditions, whose lives are always contingent upon powers higher up doing whatever they please with their homes simply because they exist on profitable lands, and whose worth as human beings is always dependent on the net price of the oil barrel.

These are the more than a billion Muslim in the world who scare you but are incapable of doing any harm to you, while you get people to hate them, to draw weapons at them for simply existing, for believing that they are worthless.

Except you are not a hater of all Muslims, isn’t that right? Or is it that you only love those rich Muslims who build golf courses in your name and whose name you can use to say that you have “some Muslims who agree with you” akin to those people who have “gay friends” who agree with them that gay marriage is an abomination.

Isn’t that you with Hussain Sajwani, head of Dubai’s DAMAC group?

Trump Damac

Entertain me for a moment, Mr. Trump, and answer this: How is it that you will screen for Muslims entering your beloved country on its path to greatness? Is their a Muslim gene you isolated? Will you get them to recite Quran verses? Where would that place me, a non-Muslim, who knows quite a few of Quran verses? Do you need me to recite them now or would that scare you?

What you’re saying Donald Trump is not scary. Let me call it what it is, because most American journalists are somehow still shying away from using the word with you: it’s disgusting, revolting, bigoted, racist, Nazi-like and inhumane. Is your middle name Adolf? If not, I suggest you change it to that because the last time someone had such a message broadcast in such a way was post WWI in Germany and we all know how that turned out to be.

The scary part, Mr. Trump, is that there are people paying to hear you, itching to shout your name, holding it on signs to proclaim they want their country to be great again.

I doubt that those people rooting for you know what greatness means. It is not to be a racist, which you are. It is not to be a bigot, which you are. It is not to be despicable, which those people are channeling every time they answer a poll proclaiming you as their choice. It is to be wholesome, accepting, tolerant, encompassing of change and of others who are different and who can induce change. Being great is not to be so politically dim-witted as to jump on whichever messages offends people enough to grab headlines, but to know that cause and effect, in politics, do not have a causal relationship.

To the people supporting Donald Trump, I say this: may you never be in need, in full blown despair, not knowing where tomorrow would lead you or how you are going to make it through the night, and then have someone just like you stand and say: you deserve it.

America being great again is not America refusing to be what it has always been: a country of immigrants. A country that is so afraid of what it is cannot simply be, and this is coming from someone who lives in a country that has simply been, despite all odds, and will be, in spite of them.

In a world where you are lumping an entire religion into one basket, you have to be thankful no one is lumping all Americans into yours. People applauding you does not mean what you’re saying is worth anything. It means that in that circle of jokers and jesters, you are the biggest clown.

From Beirut, This Is Paris: In A World That Doesn’t Care About Arab Lives 


When a friend told me past midnight to check the news about Paris, I had no idea that I would be looking at a map of a city I love, delineating locations undergoing terrorist attacks simultaneously. I zoomed in on that map closer; one of the locations was right to where I had stayed when I was there in 2013, down that same boulevard.

The more I read, the higher the number of fatalities went. It was horrible; it was dehumanizing; it was utterly and irrevocably hopeless: 2015 was ending the way it started – with terrorists attacks occuring in Lebanon and France almost at the same time, in the same context of demented creatures spreading hate and fear and death wherever they went.

I woke up this morning to two broken cities. My friends in Paris who only yesterday were asking what was happening in Beirut were now on the opposite side of the line. Both our capitals were broken and scarred, old news to us perhaps but foreign territory to them.

Today, 128 innocent civilians in Paris are no longer with us. Yesterday, 45 innocent civilians in Beirut were no longer with us. The death tolls keep rising, but we never seem to learn.

Amid the chaos and tragedy of it all, one nagging thought wouldn’t leave my head. It’s the same thought that echoes inside my skull at every single one of these events, which are becoming sadly very recurrent: we don’t really matter.

When my people were blown to pieces on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, the headlines read: explosion in Hezbollah stronghold, as if delineating the political background of a heavily urban area somehow placed the terrorism in context.

When my people died on the streets of Beirut on November 12th, world leaders did not rise in condemnation. There were no statements expressing sympathy with the Lebanese people. There was no global outrage that innocent people whose only fault was being somewhere at the wrong place and time should never have to go that way or that their families should never be broken that way or that someone’s sect or political background should never be a hyphen before feeling horrified at how their corpses burned on cement. Obama did not issue a statement about how their death was a crime against humanity; after all what is humanity but a subjective term delineating the worth of the human being meant by it?

What happened instead was an American senator wannabe proclaiming how happy he was that my people died, that my country’s capital was being shattered, that innocents were losing their lives and that the casualties included people of all kinds of kinds.

 

When my people died, no country bothered to lit up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. Even Facebook didn’t bother with making sure my people were marked safe, trivial as it may be. So here’s your Facebook safety check: we’ve, as of now, survived all of Beirut’s terrorist attacks.

 

When my people died, they did not send the world in mourning. Their death was but an irrelevant fleck along the international news cycle, something that happens in those parts of the world.

And you know what, I’m fine with all of it. Over the past year or so, I’ve come to terms with being one of those whose lives don’t matter. I’ve come to accept it and live with it.

Expect the next few days to exhibit yet another rise of Islamophobia around the world. Expect pieces about how extremism has no religion and about how the members of ISIS are not true Muslims, and they sure are not, because no person with any inkling of morality would do such things. ISIS plans for Islamophobic backlashes so it can use the backlash to point its hellish finger and tell any susceptible mind that listens: look, they hate you.

And few are those who are able to rise above.

Expect the next few days to have Europe try and cope with a growing popular backlash against the refugees flowing into its lands, pointing its fingers at them and accusing them of causing the night of November 13th in Paris. If only Europe knew, though, that the night of November 13 in Paris has been every single night of the life of those refugees for the past two years. But sleepless nights only matter when your country can get the whole world to light up in its flag color.

The more horrifying part of the reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks, however, is that some Arabs and Lebanese were more saddened by what was taking place there than what took place yesterday or the day before in their own backyards. Even among my people, there is a sense that we are not as important, that our lives are not as worthy and that, even as little as it may be, we do not deserve to have our dead collectively mourned and prayed for.

It makes sense, perhaps, in the grand sense of a Lebanese population that’s more likely to visit Paris than Dahyeh to care more about the former than about the latter, but many of the people I know who are utterly devastated by the Parisian mayhem couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what took place at a location 15 minutes away from where they lived, to people they probably encountered one day as they walked down familiar streets.

We can ask for the world to think Beirut is as important as Paris, or for Facebook to add a “safety check” button for us to use daily, or for people to care about us. But the truth of the matter is, we are a people that doesn’t care about itself to begin. We call it habituation, but it’s really not. We call it the new normal, but if this normality then let it go to hell.

In the world that doesn’t care about Arab lives, Arabs lead the front lines.

 

To Aylan Kurdi & Syria’s Children, I Am Sorry

Aylan Kurdi -

The most heartwarming story of recent days was when Abdul-Halim Attar had his entire future changed because of one picture. He was carrying his sleeping daughter on his back across the streets of Beirut as he tried to provide to her by selling BIC pens. His picture caught the world’s attention, but it was fleeting and momentary, like everything that catches the world’s attention these days.

Why Abdul-Halim Attar needed to go viral to make ends meet was never the issue. Viral pictures should not be how the Syrian refugee crisis gets handled, but this is how it’s becoming.

Abdul-Halim Attar Syrian Refugee BuyPens -

To Syria’s children, I’m terribly sorry it has come to this. I’m terribly sorry you need to be photographed in pictures sleeping on your fathers’ shoulders for someone to care. I’m terribly sorry you need to be photographed dead at a beach for people to feel sorry.

Aylan Kurdi f

I’m sorry you were born Arab.

I’m sorry that you were born into a region that doesn’t remotely care about you outside of the necessary formalities, where countries chastise others for not taking you in as their quota of you is still a big round zero.

I’m sorry that you have to die because of the hypocrisy of those Muslims who cry in the name of Islam at useless cartoons but fail to apply their own religion when it’s absolutely needed, when you are dying at the shores of Libya, of Turkey, of Greece.

I’m sorry you were born in a sea of leaders who care more about having their vacation in the South of France cut short because their once-public-turned-private beach wasn’t available anymore, and who care more about their shopping in SoHo, than about you having food once a week, or sleeping one night not to the sounds of bombs, or having a smile on your face that is not because your parents gave you the illusion of safety.

I’m sorry you are born to a leader who’d rather see you dead than to abdicate his inherited throne, and that you were born at times where your lives don’t geopolitically matter and where this very same statement will have people shake their heads in disapproval.

AYlan Kurdi  Syria Refugees Arabs

I’m sorry Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pre-occupied with always building bigger, brighter, flashier, but never in doing something actually worthwhile.

I’m sorry you are not financially important enough for Arabs to care.

I’m sorry little Aylan that there are Arabs who think your death is warranted because you’re Kurdi.

I’m sorry for Europe.

I’m sorry Europe views you as lesser than animals as it barricades its borders in walls to keep you at bay, in lands torn apart by war, where you await your turn to die, like lambs waiting to be slaughtered.

I’m sorry Europe is so xenophobic that that it doesn’t see you as innocent beings trying to live, but as social burdens who should be stopped at whatever cost.

I’m sorry Europe is so Islamophobic it sees you as nothing more than a growing infestation of a religious following that they deem foreign to their land, a presence that should be contained.

I’m sorry Europe’s own politicians and their policies that got you to where you are today are the same people making sure you die.

I’m sorry Europe doesn’t see you as people fighting for a life that is worth living.

I’m sorry that your skin just so happens not to be white enough to matter.

I’m sorry for the world.

I’m sorry you are not as important as Cecil the Lion or some whale stranded on a beach somewhere.

I’m sorry that news of Apple’s upcoming iPhone are more important than your death.

I’m sorry that Donald Trump’s racism is more relevant than our drowning.

I’m sorry for my country.

I’m sorry that we can’t do more.

I’m sorry that my country is so messed up that we can’t remotely provide the basics that any person should have. I’m sorry that my country can’t even provide for its own people.

I’m sorry for the racism, for the curfews, for the xenophobia, for the Islamophobia even at the hands of my country’s Muslims.

I’m sorry for my country’s politicians using you as fuel to spark sectarian hate, and then use the pictures of your dying children to spread fear on what could have been hadn’t they been in power.

Aylan Kurdi

I’m sorry that we can’t fully let go of how your political establishment treated us, that we can’t separate person and politics and that we can’t just see you as people trying to live.

I’m sorry that I can only be sorry, that I can only write a few words that verge on sentimentalism, trespass on sensationalism be it in empathy or in utter horror, words that are not actually meant to you but to those who can read them and who can understand them and who can hopefully do something so you don’t end up drowning, face down, in the sands of a beach in Turkey, so you can end up more than just a viral picture.

People are more than internet sensations. Humanitarian crises are worth more than viral pictures.

This is because people need to see themselves in those parents’ shoes and because those children, drowning on beaches and forever lost under water, can be their children too.

 

 

Shame On LBCI and Lebanese Authorities For Cleaning Fadel Shaker’s Image

I don't usually use the acronym "LOL" but I feel it's entirely appropriate to the use of the word "قضية."

I don’t usually use the acronym “LOL” but I feel it’s entirely appropriate to the use of the word “قضية.”

Fadel Shaker is the Islamist who cried wolf.

It’s difficult to imagine Shaker as anything other than the bearded Islamist who did a 180 degrees flip from a blasphemous man living in the sin of his songs to one who suddenly saw the light and only wanted to sing to Allah, the one imprinted in our collective memory as Lebanon, who’s been present for only 3 years.

History goes back to 2012 when Shaker popped up in Downtown Beirut at a rally for Assir’s Islamists, harmless and fluffy as they were at the time. I remember how outraged people were at the time: what had he done? Why was he doing that to himself? I even did a meme (link).

Kiss Ahmad el Assir on the forehead he did, bringing Assir into the forefront of the Lebanese news cycle in the process. The rest is history. Flashforward 3 years later and Fadel Shaker is reborn. Do you think his middle name is now Jesus (Or Issa as he’d rather be known I’m sure)?

The beard is gone. The clothes have been replaced with a suit. The shabby looking man of 2012-2014 has suddenly reverted back to his state of pre-2012. How do we know all of this? Because Lebanon’s prime TV station, LBCI, secured a super exclusive interview with Fadel Shaker in which he tried to do the following:

  1. Claim his innocence,
  2. Claim his involvement with Al Assir was simple “sympathy,”
  3. Claim that his relationship with Assir was strained,
  4. Claim that it wasn’t him who killed Lebanese army soldiers,
  5. Essentially kiss Bahia Hariri’s behind, calling her their “big sister” and commanding her efforts into preventing further decompensation of the situation.

Rumors about him trying to secure a deal to get out of the Palestinian camp of Ain el Helwe have been swirling for months through negotiations via intermediaries with the Lebanese authorities to secure his safe passage in return of him leaving his Islamist present behind.

In July 2014, he gave an interview to Lebanon24 (link) in which he essentially said almost verbatim what he told the LBC reporter who strung a report that turned Fadel Shaker from the Islamist to a pop star ready to take the microphone and sing next to Yara (if that’s not haram, I wouldn’t know).

The details of Fadel Shaker’s deal, according to Al Akhbar (link), are as follows:

  • He’s been trying to sort his situation ever since he ended up in Ain El Helwe in 2013,
  • His situation became increasingly difficult as he ran out of cash and his wife controlled his assets,
  • His “difficult situation” forced him into compromises,
  • Through a concert contractor called Imad Qanso, Fadel Shaker got into contact with Walid Ben Talal as well as Layal Al Solh who became his intermediaries with the government,
  • Layla Al Solh managed to get Shaker a deal with the Lebanese army that requires him to 1) return to his basic form and stop the fiery speeches against the army, 2) hire a lawyer to help him in his upcoming “trial” and 3) publicly cut all ties with Al Assir,
  • He got a lawyer called May Alkhansa, close to Hezbollah, after promising her “he hadn’t spilled one drop of blood,”
  • LBC was agreed upon to be the TV station to handle his rebirth, through a pre-prepared interview.

And despite all of this, I don’t blame Fadel Shaker for saying what he did. I don’t even blame Layla Al Solh and Walid Ben Talal for trying to get him off the hook. The latter is Saudi, so what did you expect? And his aunt is nothing more than his voice box, sadly.

The entities to blame here are 1) LBCI who, in typical Lebanese fashion, put the exclusivity of a news scoop ahead of what that scoop means, although in LBCI’s defense no Lebanese TV station would have said no, and 2) Lebanese authorities who are actually going through with such a deal.

By doing that report, LBCI – with all its influence – became nothing more than a mailbox to months long negotiations taking place behind closed doors between Shaker and Lebanese authorities in order to seal the deal and make sure Fadel Shaker turns out unscathed.

That report, being a rehash of a 2014 interview and with Fadel Shaker being prepped for the questions for weeks now, shows that there’s no substance to the content and no attempt at confronting Shaker regarding the terrible things that he did. LBCI shouldn’t have let him use their station to pass his agenda unchallenged, and contemplate the potential of him filling stadiums with fans again.

On the other hand, Fadel Shaker possibly facing trial means nothing. How long did Bilal Deqmaq stay in prison? How long did any of the Islamists caught up with Al Assir stay in prison? Will a few days in prison be enough? No.

By going into these negotiations with a terrorist just because “he saw the light,” our army and whichever authorities involved are saying that the blood of our army members is useless, that calling them pigs is okay and that all can be forgiven if you’re important enough to get away with it. Typical Lebanon.

Shame on Lebanese authorities who are ready to ignore everything just to come about to some deal.

How dim-witted do they think we are not to remember what he has done?

This is him calling the Lebanese army pigs and bragging that his gang killed two and wounded four:

This is him declaring jihad in Syria:

This is what he said of Ahmad el Assir:

“But then there was the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, with four Hezbollah militants accused by the international prosecutors. In May 2008 Hezbollah militias attacked Sunni Muslims in Beirut. To crown it all, they support [Syria’s president] Bashar al-Assad. Sunnis feel frustrated and they have no one to protect them. The sheikh [Assir] speaks the truth.” (link).

This is what he said of Lebanon (and the world’s) Shiites:

“In Syria they kill our Sunni brothers and destroy our mosques. They are prepared to kill all the Sunnis, all the way to the Gulf. They’re infidels, not Muslims. It’s not true the Qur’an is their book. They’re liars, they say one thing and do another.” (link).

This is what he said of his 2012-2015 path:

“That wasn’t my true calling. Thanks to the almighty, I now lead a religious life. I’m at peace. But I have no regrets about the past. It’s my duty to combat oppression and defend people who share my faith.” (link).

This is him in various loving positions with Ahmad el Assir and other terrorists:

Fadel Shaker is a 46 year old man without any disabilities who took decisions of which he was whole-heartedly convinced. If this had been a non-famous person, he would’ve been convicted and thrown in jail. He may have not killed (no one can know) but that doesn’t make him any less of a criminal.

The king of romance is planning a comeback. It’s no longer his “duty to combat oppression and defend people who share his faith,” everyone else be damned. And Lebanon’s very own LBCI is spear-heading that comeback. Perhaps they are dying for another Elissa duet?

The fact of the matter is the only romance he should be singing is to his cell mates in Roumieh, bending over, calling them allah. But that’s not what LBCI or the Lebanese authorities want. In Lebanon, justice is served only to those who are weak enough not to challenge it.

#JeSuisAhmed: The World That Fears Muslims

Ahmed Merabet Charlie Hebdo Terrorism Kouachi brothers

A couple of days ago, I decided that my reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack would be to share the covers that had those journalists killed. I didn’t say whether I agreed with their content because that wasn’t the point at the time, and freedom of speech, to me, was absolute, with satire at its heart, as it aims to reconcile reason with power. Enforcing limitations puts us on a slippery slope until Paris on January 7th becomes conceivable. The world isn’t where it is today because visionaries cowered from challenging their dogmas.

In today’s world, however, freedom of speech is a reflection of the hypocritical scope with which we view things. In this relative specter, even satire becomes cruel when it’s aimed at the weak who aren’t allowed to answer back. Two days after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, this is our chance to sit down and talk.

Everyone’s up in flames over how Muslims aren’t condemning the Charlie Hebdo attacks enough. Over how they haven’t condemned ISIS enough. Over how they aren’t condemning themselves enough. Well, they have over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

Where have you been throughout all of this? Thinking Muslim was a member of a small village of 1.57 billion where everyone’s alike: a terrorist, a pest, an apostate to modern values in need of serious reconsideration of his religious views. But never a person who could be a victim and who is, in fact, innocent  – at least until proven guilty.

And then you call them off when they actually do what you’re asking of them.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.11.12 PM

The victims of every attack carried out by extremists are not just those who died and whose memory perseveres in us, the media and then, when the calamity subsides, every bigot who uses their name to propagate their own version of extremism that is as toxic, but less deadly, perched on top of podiums, preaching about liberties while advocating for many to be denied of them.

The victims of the Paris attacks are that Muslim, whose kebab shop and Mosque were burned, who had absolutely nothing to do with the attack except in some amalgamation of Ahmad and terrorist.

They’re that Muslim who was afraid of going to the vigils to honor the dead of a publication that offended again and again, who was petrified at how people would view her hijab or his beard now, terrified at what it would mean to be on January 8th, 2015.

They’re that Muslim who watched in horror as the news of Paris unfolded, who gasped at the video showing the Muslim cop Ahmed Merabet being shot to death, told his children to go into their room to prevent them from seeing what he was seeing on TV and is worried daily at the poison they’re getting exposed to.

They’re the Muslim who has nothing to do with France but is told he is responsible for the actions of some French Muslims. They’re your Muslim friend at whom you looked with different sight today.

They’re that Muslim that is slowly being driven over the edge and who will come to endorse – nay, want to participate – one day in actions like those that took place in Paris yesterday.

They’re that foreign student who is now worried about what this means to his future. They’re that person trying to seek a better life for his family, whose chances are now completely in tatters.

What we demand of every single one of those Muslims is to condemn, apologize, and shout from every minaret how they are against what some of their lot are doing today, because if they don’t, then they are terrorists too.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.16.10 PM

Defending free speech by telling someone exactly what to say. Isn’t that ironic given that whole shenanigan involving sin and first stone to be cast?

In today’s world, I – born Christian, now who cares – am never lumped with the Christians who have caused two world wars, a holocaust, several other wars, the endless support for the state of Israel and the massacre of Palestinians, the endless encroachment over the riches of Africa, the rise of Neo-Nazi parties across Europe and the many attacks they have been committed in my name.

I am never asked to condemn en masse those protests in Germany where it was called for the expulsion of impure breeds, whose religion is not original to Europe – ironic as that is – and whose skin color is not as fair.

I am also never faced with existential questions about Christianity when those Neo-Nazis kill for their brand of extremism, as has happened in Norway in 2011, an assault which ended the life of 77 people.

I am never asked to apologize for Aurora, Sandy Hook Elementary, to assess Christianity’s potential for the modern world after the 1 million in Iraq that died, because of a war that is there to defend my freedom, my rights, my security, my Jesus-given right for oil.

I am never considered as violent for contributing to the instability of Pakistan and leading to the loss of 140+ of its children in Peshawar. Those are just Muslims killing other Muslims.

Jews are never faced with retribution for their continuous slaughter of Palestinians, the last of which was in Gaza this past summer, where 600 Palestinian children died. They are never asked to apologize for their constant rape of Palestinian land, for never-ending settlements, for their constant erosion of the rights of the people with whom they are forcibly sharing the land.

In today’s world, that same Muslim we are more than willing to burn at the stake is never allowed to be offended or else he’s deemed an extremist as the world-given badge of modernity gets taken away.

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 5.09.22 PM

 

Meanwhile, holocaust portrayals can cause uproars; Charlie Hebdo in 2009 fired and had that same artist sued for hate speech for drawing a Jewish caricature of Sarkozy, and even Christians are allowed to be offended by portrayals of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

We think so little of the world’s Muslims that their deaths are a natural event, never worth a discussion. We think so low of them that we believe it’s unfathomable for them to comprehend our cherished values of freedom, democracy, and autonomy, despite those concepts – in the same context of worldwide hypocrisy – being relative: only given to those who can afford them, to those powerful enough to claim them.

How can we explain, for instance, to the Muslim Palestinian in Gaza what human rights are or what freedom is, while that same Palestinian is genuinly expected to wholly understand how it is to be a French free man in France?

How can we explain to the Muslim women of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf that they can do whatever they want with their bodies when their own governments that keep on oppressing them are maintained by the same countries where women are, in theory, liberated, open, sexual, and can drive?

How can we explain to that Saudi blogger who is now facing 10 years in jail and 1000 lashes for speaking up what freedom of speech actually means?

How can we explain what freedom is to Muslims living in dictatorships, under systems that are kept there by the same countries demanding of those same Muslims to be free and worldly and Western?

We are so blinded by prejudice and hate that we can’t see who actually benefits from the attacks in Paris on January 7th.

Those are people like Marine Le Pen, who doesn’t see how the construct of modern French society has a lot to do with why January 7th happened, whose message of hate will now resonate clearer in the minds of the French and who will spear-head a regression of the theoretical values of the French state. She has already started sharpening her harpoon.

They’re people like the far-right in every corner of the world whose flags might as well be those of ISIS with inverted colors. They’re people like Netenyahu whose own brand of terrorism is never labeled as such and who will use the attacks in Paris to further advocate for the need of escalation in his terror.

They’re heads of nations like Qatar and Saudi Arabia who proclaim moderation for the world to be fooled, and spread hatred wherever they go, as they buy their way to a majority share in the European continent.

Imagine for a moment that this had been a parallel world, where we are an impoverished minority, whose countries are taken up for their natural resources, whose heads are so blinded by wealth and power they can’t see themselves being manipulated, whose poor are among the poorest of the world, whose children die of famine and war, whose lives are not judged in absolute value, whose lands are a matter of debate, whose opinions are not free, would we be asked to condemn too?

I do not understand Islam nor do I pretend to do so. I don’t know what true Islam is, the same way I don’t know what true Christianity or true Judaism are, and I don’t believe anyone truly knows – all three remain ideological constructs that are open to interpretation within frames that are entirely individualistic. Hence,  I cannot defend religions as a dogma nor am I doing so.

We say that we can root out Muslim extremism by force: by forcing them to be apologetic, by forcing ourselves over their homes, by launching missiles, armies, and rockets. That is not the case. The only way to weed out the Islamists, extremists and terrorists is to empower those Muslims who are being killed by those same extremists when they speak up, whose voices are being silenced by the mainstream voices around the world that refuse to listen, and who are not allowed to fill the vacuum in their reputation as it’s slowly eaten away by the mole in their midst. We empower them by listening, by not taking away the stability in their countries, by not making sure their countries, communities and societies never amount to anything, and by not believing the cause of their hardship is the religion they worship.

There are three ways this can deconstruct. We can either maintain things as they are, ignore any lesson Paris is trying to teach us, and carry on. We can make things worse, lump 1.57 billion Muslim with ISIS, Al Qaeda, or Taliban and assume that they’re all out there to assassinate freedom, democracy, and human rights.

Or you can ignore the hate speech, tell that terrified Muslim that there’s someone who gets it, doesn’t require him to condemn, doesn’t attribute 1.57 billions to the actions of one and understands that the actions of that one are more related to societal constructs than to religion, who knows that he too has autonomy, and needs freedom, and seeks a better life for his children, and that praying while looking at Mecca and kneeling down is essentially the same as looking at an altar and standing up, and that this world is very cruel to anyone who is different from the norms, and that it is okay to be angry and not to be okay with how things are, that you should be Charlie, and Ahmed and all shades in between, and that it is okay to be a human who just happens to be Muslim.