Roy Hamouche’s Murder Is Horrific, But Calling For The Death Penalty Isn’t The Answer

 

The barbaric murder, at the hands of Mohammad Ahmar and this two friends, of Roy Hamouch, a 24 year old architect, has quickly trumped all other discussions taking place in the country as the entire nation reels from the state of lawlessness we’ve reached. The sad reality is that Roy’s murder isn’t the lone event we all want it to be. It’s become part of a pattern we have in this country, with lack of gun regulations and unbreakable wastas.

With some people being always above the law, and helping those that propagate their agenda be above the law with them, can we truly hope for justice to be served in any of these murders that are becoming more frequently?

As I said in my blog post on the issue yesterday:

In this land they call a country, rule of law does not exist. Some people here can do whatever they want – even kill – and still get away with it through the help of the many Lebanese that are always above the law, on whom there’s no accountability, who never face consequences for their actions.

How many times is the exact same scenario supposed to be repeated before we realize that the way they’re forcing us to live in this jungle is not acceptable anymore, that our lives are not at the mercy of airheads who are bolstered by the power of their wasta and the barrel of their gun.

As such, the more people talked about the horrific killing of Roy Hamouch, the more I’ve seen people demand for the death penalty to be reinstated in Lebanon. So I asked the following question, with a poll, on Twitter and – so far – I’m surprised to find that over 60% of people approve of the death penalty in Lebanon:

The main justification I got for people voting “yes” was that in this lawless nation, the only way to make sure Roy’s killers receive the punishment they deserve is through capital punishment. Some are even calling for reinstitution of public executions. But is calling for a death penalty when emotions are high and reason put on the back-burner the answer to such scenarios?

I’d be lying if I said that question hasn’t conflicted me. You see, my family was touched more than 18 years ago in a murder in the vein of Roy’s, which was all over the news for 3 days, and had everyone talking and coming up with all different kinds of conclusions.

While on a hunting excursion in my hometown, my uncle and his friend encountered an acquaintance of theirs who got out of his house and opened fire on them both. What followed was a night-long stand off with the Lebanese army, the Red Cross unable to collect the bodies of my uncle and his friend, and – ultimately – a call from then president Emile Lahoud to kill the man because capturing him had proved to be immensely difficult due to his Civil War training with a Northern Lebanese political party.

I’d like to think that if my uncle’s murderer hadn’t been killed back then, I wouldn’t want him to receive the death penalty today. Partly because I think death is the “easy” way out for people like him, and partly because I firmly believe that death penalty is a political ploy that serves no purpose and wouldn’t have brought my family closure.

To say the death penalty is a fair and unbiased punishment is delusional. For context, the last time an execution happened in Lebanon was in 1997, and even then the three men who received the death penalty were divided according to sectarian lines: one of them was Maronite, another was Sunni, and the third was Shiite. This is to say that even in such matters of punishment, our sectarian system interferes to make sure that sects don’t feel particularly targeted. Does that translate in a fair punishment when those who receive death are chosen based on how they pray?

The fact of the matter is, unpopular an opinion as it is, the murderers of Roy Hamouch are also victims of the Lebanese condition, as we all are: a country ruled by warlords who propagate this tribalism through allowing people like those who killed Roy to do what they do, and be protected in the process. They keep them poor, uneducated and helpless, with the only hope of a “decent” future for them being them under the wings of some patron as they do his bidding.

The simplest example to that is that Mohammad Hassan Ahmar, the murderer of Roy, being from a poor village in the Baalbak caza named Iaat. He has been in and out of the Roumieh prison before, and has a few more warrants against him. Our system has failed Mohammad. He is a victim of his own conditions, not that that justifies what he did in any way.

We can’t hope for a developed and civil country when we’re advocating for horrific punishments for equally horrific crimes. It’s hypocritical of us to complain about Lebanon not being “civilized” enough when we’re calling for “uncivilized” punishments.

The death penalty has been proven not to deter from horrific crimes, but is actually a tool used by governments to oppress. You can be certain that any Lebanese who receives it is one who doesn’t have a strong enough wasta to protect him from being hanged or shot or receive a lethal injection. Can you imagine the son or daughter of a politician who does as horrific a crime as the murder of Roy Hamouche receiving it?

Calling for death sentences means that we think the people in question are non-redeemable human beings who are not worth being given a chance at trying to better themselves – even if that occurs in a life sentence without parole. This is why reforming our prison system is paramount to enable people, like Mohammad, who have been incarcerated before to actually have a shot at rectifying their lives when they’re released, and not fall back on the only thing they know: being criminals.

Nothing can give back Roy’s family the precious person they lost. The death of my uncle’s killer wasn’t the healing closure that you’d expect in mending the gaping wound that his horrific death left in our family. We need to be more humane humans for us to maybe start healing.

Until then, rest in peace Roy Hamouche. May your parents find solace in you becoming a part of every Lebanese household, and touching the hearts of everyone in this country.

Advertisements

Justice for Roy: When Lebanon Is A Full Blown Jungle, Not A Country

Welcome to the jungle, where you can die because some brainless goon, empowered by his wasta and the guns he has around his waist and in the trunk of his can, will shoot you for upsetting him or for talking down to him. Today Roy Hamouche was that jungle’s latest victim.

Picture this. Roy, an architect, had just finished celebrating his 24th birthday with his friends when he got into an altercation with 3 guys in a windows-tinted BMW. When the immediate altercation ended, those 3 criminals chased Roy and his friends around Beirut until they surrounded their car and forced Roy out.

One of them held out his gun, pointed it to Roy’s head and shot him dead. They tried to shoot Roy’s friend, Johnny Nassar, who managed to narrowly escape them and get wounded in the process.

Today, Lebanon adds yet another victim to the growing list of innocent civilians who are being killed by the horrible state of lawlessness that our politicians have permitted to infest, prosper and permeate in all facets of our society.

It hasn’t been a month yet since Sara Sleiman was the victim of a stray bullet because a known criminal, and a henchman of a very influential Lebanese political party, couldn’t take being stuck because of a car-accident outside a pub in Zahleh.

It hasn’t even been two years since Georges El Rif was chased down by one of the bodyguards of one of Lebanon’s most important banks, and knifed in broad daylight in the middle of Achrafieh. The politician who hired that bodyguard is currently working on acquiring a bank in the United States.

And it’s been slightly more than two years since Yves Nawfal was shot dead by Charbel Khalil, after a similar altercation in Faraya, right after Yves’ 26th birthday. Khalil was also protected by one of Keserwan’s prominent politicians, and was arrested after the immense outrage following Yves’ death forced that politician to relinquish his attempts at protecting the criminal.

The common denominator to all of these murders and horrific acts is one: we live in a country where the people who killed Georges El Rif, Yves Nawfal, Sara Sleiman, Roy Hamouche and many others can do so freely because they are protected by the same establishment whose job is to make sure that Georges, Yves, Sara and Roy can go home safely or celebrate their birthdays and be certain that party won’t be their last or even cut off someone on the road and not find themselves in coffins, their names in a hashtag being circulated across the country.

What’s certain is this: those criminals that chased down Roy, forced him out of his car and shot him in the head are empowered by their wasta that allows them to parade around in an illegal car, filled with firing power, to kill whoever pisses them off in whatever processing power their tiny brain can muster.

Roy Hamouche is not a victim because he got into a fight with the wrong people. He is a victim because our country allows those people to exist, and because if we don’t turn every single horrific murder like Roy’s into a matter of national emergency those very same criminals will soon be forgotten, as whichever politician protecting them goes back to doing what he does best, and they become free to kill and terrorize other people again.

In this land they call a country, rule of law does not exist. Some people here can do whatever they want – even kill – and still get away with it through the help of the many Lebanese that are always above the law, on whom there’s no accountability, who never face consequences for their actions.

How many times is the exact same scenario supposed to be repeated before we realize that the way they’re forcing us to live in this jungle is not acceptable anymore, that our lives are not at the mercy of airheads who are bolstered by the power of their wasta and the barrel of their gun. Many in Lebanon keep weapons and knives in their cars. They roam our streets, threaten our security and our lives, aware that their threats will never be faced with any repercussions. But let our security forces be happy they apprehended someone with a funny license plate, because that’s definitely keeping us safer.

Until then, may Roy Hamouche rest in peace. Yet another person with so much future ahead of him taken way too soon by this lawless land. I hope his family finds solace in having the criminals that took his life be apprehended and dealt the worst of punishments, but NOT the death penalty.

From Halaweh Tarts To Achta & Honey Eclairs: The New Fusion Ramadan Sweets You Can Find In Tripoli

Over the weekend, I ventured out to Akkar’s Ammou3a area for the first time ever with two friends tagging along. After a super long and arduous drive – those roads are horrendous – it only felt fitting to make a pit stop in Tripoli for a much needed food break. Naturally, Hallab is where we went.

Off-topic, but Ammou3a is a very beautiful area to visit and to do some hiking. The drive via the Fnaydeq road is much easier than driving up their through Akkar El 3ati2a, and discovering Akkar is an eye opening experience that every Lebanese should do.

Ammou3a views. #ammouaa #ammou3a #akkar #lebanon #livelovelebanon #nature #landscape #northlebanon.

A post shared by eliefares (@eliefares) on

Anyway, we got those menus and were informed that, exclusively for Ramadan – at least for now – they’re introducing new fusion sweets that they’d recommend we try. The three of us figured that would be more interesting than going for simple ice cream or knefeh, so off to that fridge we went and got an assortment of items, the most expensive of which is $3.

To say we were blown away is an understatement. I don’t even normally blog about food or anything remotely related to it, unless it is to turn it into a “to be or not to be” story of course, but this felt like it needed the exposure.

The amount of creativity in those new Ramadan fusion sweets is amazing, and most of them are based on Ashta, which is a Hallab specialty. As a person who absolutely loves halaweh and will miss it very much when I move to the U.S., the sight of that Halaweh tart was enough for me to foresake all reminders of diet and binge.

To say that tart was heavenly would be an understatement. As my friend put it, the most accurate description is: this is blasphemy.

We also tried the Ashta & honey eclair, and I have to say it was as good as the halaweh tart. The mix between what you’d expect to be a Western delicacy and what is very decidedly oriental works very well. I have to say, it was even better than the normal uneventful eclairs we’re all used to having at the many patisseries around the country.

The selection isn’t only summarized with those two items. There’s also an Apple and ashta tart, a tart with mhallbiyeh, as well as raha. A new maamoul with chocolate ashta, a tart with amareddine and a bunch of other items.

My friend tried the apple and ashta tart and texted – I quote: “The apple ones are orgasmic even after two days in my mom’s tupperware.”

Those items are only available at Tripoli’s Hallab, and trust me they’re worth the drive. In another highlight for the massive creativity, especially when it comes to the culinary field, that exists in Tripoli, there’s nothing I’d love more than to highlight this triumph for everyone’s taste buds that exists up North.

Another reason to make the drive is the possibility to win a suhour at Hallab. All you need to do is to take a picture of one of their ashta items – that Apple tart or eclair come to mind – and Instagram it with the hashtags #RamadanKashta and #HallabAddicts while tagging their Instagram account (@arhallab1881).

 

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post, nor was I given any freebies to write it. 

In The Lebanese Jungle, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab Can Practice “Medicine” … While Laws Look Away

When I graduated from medical school about two years ago, the most important part of the Hyppocratic Oath that we took was to “do no harm.” It’s our moral and legal obligation as doctors to do the most that we can to improve our patients’ health, while making sure that our work does not prove to be at the detriment of their health and, even worse, constitute us taking advantage of them to increase our bottom line.

Farah Kassab was a 32 year old Iraqi-Jordanian mother of two, previously healthy contrary to the rumors trying to defend the surgeon who killed her, who presented to (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s clinic, by virtue of the ads he has inundated the country and its airline carrier with, to do a procedure that would help her lose weight. It wouldn’t have been considered an expensive plastic surgery: an injection to her stomach area that would regulate the amount of food she could eat.

Instead, Saab worked at convincing Farah Kassab that she needed to do liposuctions to her entire body in order to reach the figure she wanted, along with an eyebrow lift and a rhinoplasty. Saab took advantage of a woman who sought the care of a physician hoping he had her best interest at heart, and managed to convince her to sign on to a drastic procedure that would cost her north of $50,000 and involve more than 4-5 hours of operational work.

Later on, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab started operating on Farah. 19 injections later, the 32 year old suffered a rare complication that usually occurs when patients suffer fractures in some of their long bones, but has been shown to exist in liposuctions, especially when they’re as massive volume as hers: a fat embolism.

Essentially, fat tissue that gathers together travels through the patient’s vessels and targets multiple organs, the most dangerous of which is the lungs which could lead to death especially when the patient in question is not in an equipped hospital to deal with such things.

Of course, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s hospital was not equipped to deal with any of the complications that arise of his surgeries. His hospital did not have the facilities needed to monitor patients post operation to manage any arising complications. Farah was transferred back to her room. Soon enough, she became a frigid body whose mother had to frantically shout for the medical crew to come give her attention. Farah had passed away.

Instead of taking the blame, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab proceeded to do what he does best: bend the system that he’s been bending for years to his advantage. He contacted his friend who works at Notre Dame du Liban hospital and they agreed to transfer Farah to that hospital and make it look like she died there, while issuing official death certificates with that information.

His friend agreed, but their plan did not go as planned when Farah’s family found out what happened with her forcing the other hospital to admit they received the patient already dead, according to Arabic news site Ammon News.

(El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has since fled to Cyprus, and his hospital has been closed down.

If there’s anything for you to wish in life, especially if you live in Lebanon, it’s for a wasta that’s as strong as consistent as the one (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has enjoyed over the years.

Facing recurrent suspensions from the Lebanese Order of Physicians because of him breaking their law that forbids physicians from advertising for themselves (Al jamal Nader wa Saab), he should have not been legally allowed to practice medicine in the country, especially on such a high level. And yet, he did.

In fact, he faced suspensions from the Lebanese Order of Physicians for the past five years, including one for 6 months, as well as a one month legal ban from pursuing what he calls “medicine.” He was still brought back to the frontline, in the full sight of the Lebanese government, without anyone addressing it, and not even with a higher level of vigilance from concerned authorities.

(El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab has been banned by more than one Arab country already from practicing his brand of medicine there, including the U.A.E, K.S.A and Kuwait. The reason for those bans are not perfectly clear, but even then he was still allowed to practice medicine in Lebanon with full liberty.

Farah Kassab isn’t the first victim of (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab, albeit she’s the first one to have died because of his negligence. The patients we’ve seen who have presented to clinics for other reasons with massively botched operations at his hands are recurrent, and have always found deaf ears in any governmental function they pursued. Refer to the insurmountable wasta that allows him to do so. He has already harmed a Jordanian woman before as he operated on one in his hotel room in Amman. He was still allowed to practice here afterwards.

For a hospital doing such high level surgeries, the Lebanese government, especially through the Ministry of Health, should have made sure that the minimum required facilities to monitor patients post-op and to manage any arising complications that occur is there. How could they allow operations with general anesthesia to occur without high level of pre and post op monitoring?

With (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab’s hospital, high profile as it is, they did not. In fact, his center getting the hospital label occurred through a governmental decree without passing through the necessary regulatory bodies, as per LBC, and without it being part of the Lebanese syndicate of hospitals which would have oversight over regulation.

Of course, his hospital is not the only lacking one in the country, but his hospital is not one that exists in the middle of nowhere and whose shortage in facilities is because our government doesn’t have the capacity to provide them. A physician such as him was allowed to operate a plastic surgery hospital without the minimum requirements to operate it in in the first place in full sight of the law.

How can a hospital based on surgical procedures not have any post-op monitoring? How is this severe lack of oversight even allowed? Or is our government only capable of banning movies? With no decent hospital, no legal basis to work here, (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab still did surgeries. Why?

How many more of these horrible stories are we supposed to hear, of physicians who give all of us a bad name because they are allowed to practice by a government who doesn’t bother to check and doesn’t listen to the many victims they’ve left in their path over the years?

Today, this 32 year old mother of a four year old girl and a one year old boy exists no more not only because of (El Jamal) Nader (Wa) Saab, but because the Lebanese government in this jungle they call a country has allowed such a creature to not only exist, but to thrive.

Islamic Extremists Threaten Ahwak Ben Tafesh Coffee Shop In Tripoli Because Their Mosque’s Electricity Went Out

Tripoli’s Ahwak Cafe is a lot of things. Nestled right across a Mosque in the Dam w Farz area, in the newer parts of the city, a stone’s throw away from the gorgeous Rachid Karami forum, it’s a place that’s become synonymous with the city’s most liberal youth frequenting it. In that coffee house’s bathroom is collection of graffiti, one of which reads: “Your ignorance of scientific knowledge is not proof that God exists.”

That’s probably the only place in Tripoli where you’d find such a statement, but it exists.

Ahwak Ben Tafesh did not have as easy an existence in Tripoli as you’d normally think a coffee place would be. I made it a habit to support it every time I went to the city, precisely because it represented the kind of Tripoli that I can relate to, that makes you hopeful of a better future for the city.

It was threatened by Islamists more than once. It was in fact attacked by Islamists back in July of 2013 when one of their newly-released extremists rode up with his goons in an SUV, stormed the place, trashed it, threatened people with weapons, and left.

Lebanon’s government did nothing about the incidence.

Fast forward nearly 4 years later. It’s May 31st, 2017, almost a week into the Muslim month of Ramadan and that mosque across the street – known as the Abdul Rahman Mosque – loses the electricity to its outdoor space and speakers.

In one moment, all hell broke loose. And what turned out to be a damaged electrical wire was turned into an attack on Tripoli being the citadel of Muslims in Lebanon, an attempt to silence the sound of Mosques.

So naturally, the day after, on June 1st, this statement was made, not by the Mosque but by Islamists who have not yet been identified:

Its overall essence translates to:

“Ahwak Ben Tafesh coffee shop in the Dam w Farz area has had a problem with the nearby mosque for a long time, and is known to have atheist clientele. They’re the prime suspect in  what happened at the Rahman Mosque. To its owner and clients we say: close the premises and stay home or move somewhere outside of Tripoli the city of Muslims, within 48 hours as a maximum. You’ve been worked.

Signed the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”

Said “Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” or الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر is considered to be a Muslim duty and has been distorted by Islamic extremists, notably in Saudi Arabia, to issue fatwas and decrees.

The mosque in question has denied to have issued the statement through a Facebook post. The area affected by the electrical cut was the outer courtyard as well as nearby locations which offered their rooftops for extra speakers to broadcast the tarawih.

By threatening Ahwak Ben Tafesh that way without any ounce of proof, with a government that has yet to act in any way to protect the coffee shop, its owner and its clients, these extremists are giving a carte blanche to the brainwashed masses that listen to them to go and destroy the coffee house in the name of religion. This is uncharted territory in Lebanon, and simply terrorism.

Some of the mosque goers were not particularly happy:

That particular mosque has a history of banning speakers they don’t agree with from being given the chance to hold conferences in Tripoli, to accusing everyone who doesn’t follow everything they say of heresy. Anyone could have cut that wire or damaged it. Ramadan is one of that mosque’s busiest times with the tarawih. One of the worshippers could have inadvertently damaged it.

And yet here we are.

Why Tafesh?

Because of its resistance to bans on breakfasts during Ramadan when the city’s administration was over-run by spineless politicians who succumbed to every threat by Islamists that thrived in the forgotten capital of the North,

Because of it serving alcohol and all kinds of haram things on the down low,

Because of the unabashed atheism of some its customers, their resistance to the hateful messages of those Islamists, their disdain of their city being turned into a safe place for every bearded man with poison to spew,

Because the place is a beacon of Tripoli’s liberal youth, who don’t conform to the status quo that’s forcibly enforced on their city by those who want it to be seen as the “castle of Muslims in Lebanon” and nothing more.

And this is disgraceful.

It is on the hands of the Lebanese government to find whoever cut that wire, if it’s a deliberate act, and to make sure that those who frequent the Ahwak Ben Tafesh coffee shop are safe and that the shop is protected from vandalism as well as terrorist attacks from extremists who refuse to have anyone who disagrees with them live in the same city.

Tripoli is not a city where such people should be allowed to thrive unchecked anymore. And it sure as hell is not a city where some creature can decide to ban establishments outside of its city limits with a 48 hour window and be met with complacency or even agreement. They may be a fringe minority but their political protection is becoming cancerous and detrimental to all attempts at improving Tripoli’s reputation and future.

The mosque’s speakers going out is unfortunate. If those extremists actually truly cared about the message of those tarawih and the true spirit of Ramadan, they’d have continued praying and forgave however and whatever caused that wire to break, not threaten and terrorize. I may not be Muslim or knowledgeable of Islam, but I daresay that means their fasting is not valid anymore.

Lebanon’s Government Wants To Ban “Wonder Woman” Because Lead Actress Gal Gadot Is Israeli

Oh look, just when you thought we couldn’t regress further as a country, some entity decides to take up the challenge. The latest is Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy deciding, at the very last minute, to start the procedure to ban this summer’s blockbuster movie “Wonder Woman” because its lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli.

As per a source, Wonder Woman has already passed all forms of regulations for it to get a screen date in Lebanon, which is this coming Thursday, including a very strict censorship bureau and other apparatuses who are more than willing to ax movies than to let them through. And yet, as in typical Lebanese fashion and because we definitely have our priorities in order, Lebanon’s government decided to rise up from its slumber and resist, even though the movie has been announced for over 3 years now.

Resist what? A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli or has served in the IDF or who is part of an apartheid state, but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her “country” in any way whatsoever. A movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel in any way, where Israel is not even mentioned or alluded to, and in which the lead actress does nothing to even propagate the idea of her homeland. And yet, her mere existence has some people triggered beyond belief.

You’d think if they want their ban to make the least of sense, they’d have done it a year ago when the movie’s first trailer was released, not in the week of its release after it’s been given a green light, handling massive financial losses to the Lebanese company that won its distribution rights.

In a statement issued today (link in Arabic), Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy – I don’t even know how it’s their job to decide some movies should be censored – said the following:

  • The ministry of Economy has already taken the necessary measures to make sure Gal Gadot’s previous movie, Batman v Superman, was not shown in Lebanese cinemas through a request to the General Directorate of Security dating 13/03/2016.
  • The ministry has also sent a request to the BDS office in Damascus to add Gal Gadot’s name to a blacklist for boycott.
  • On 21/04/2016, the Arab League issued a decree to ban any movie featuring Gal Gadot.
  • On 29/05/2017, the ministry has issued a decree to the General Directorate of Security to start the necessary procedures to ban the movie’s screening.

I don’t know where the people governing us have been living, but Batman v Superman was not banned. In fact, I watched it on a big fat Lebanese screen and many applauded when Gal Gadot’s character came on screen because her character, which also happens to be Wonder Woman in that movie, is badass and worthy of the applause.

Gal Gadot’s was also featured in the Fast and Furious series, multiple times, all of which were not banned as well. Probably because more than a few government official as well as some of those turned up about banning Wonder Woman wanted to see Vin Diesel make those cars roar.

Who knows, maybe their problem isn’t with Gal Gadot being Israeli and having served in the IDF, both of which have no bearing on the movie in question, but rather because the movie features strong independent female characters which our patriarchy cannot propagate?

And let’s not begin with even listening to what the Arab League deems appropriate or not. If we went by anything that lot wanted, we’d be living in the darker ages they’re all enjoying so happily.

What’s next, though? Banning every single movie that dares to be associated in any way with Israel? Banning every actor or actress who’s set foot in Israel? Deciding not to show any feature film that has any entity that remotely agrees with anything Israel does? Why don’t we just ban ourselves from everything commercial in the world and be done with it?

Natalie Portman was born in Israel. No one has a problem with her movies. I’m willing to be those same people calling for Wonder Woman’s ban were more than excited to see Portman in the Star Wars reboot, way back when.

The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it, having it banned for everyone else is what’s wrong, not the fact that the actress in it happens to come from an enemy country whose existence we don’t acknowledge. Simply don’t go watch it. Don’t give it the word of mouth it needs. Don’t give it your hard-earned money, call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.

The fact that, in the week of Wonder Woman’s release worldwide, the Lebanese media cycle is about the possibility of banning the movie as our government remembers that this movie features an actress we don’t approve of, is sad. Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing how to pick them?

Even if they ban Wonder Woman, our government and those who support its decision seem to have forgotten that in the age of the internet, no movie is further than a couple of clicks away. I’m not surprised that they’re not even aware how futile their censorship attempts will be at preventing the propagation of whatever it is they don’t want to propagate.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be making sure to watch Wonder Woman (if they keep her, and even if they don’t). Gal Gadot may be a shitty person and actress, but both are still not enough arguments to ban the movie. Just let me know, when you’re done with the hoopla, if you’ve freed Palestine by banning an irrelevant movie featuring an irrelevant actress with an irrelevant background to an irrelevant story, while Lebanon maintains its oppression of the Palestinians living here.

Joe Semaan: The Fraud Faking Being Lebanese Police To Abuse Foreign Maids

Meet Joe Semaan, another entity for us to add to the growing list of filth associated with Lebanon and whose mere existence is a waste of space, and an abomination to every single inch of advancement we’re trying to make in the many transgressions against human rights in this country.

I was told about Joe yesterday by a couple of activists who are trying to advance migrant worker rights in Lebanon, and highlighting the many transgressions against them as well as the immense repercussions that the abuse our law permits has on their well-being. It’s only yesterday that an Ethiopian maid committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of the 7th floor apartment where she was working. In fact, the rates of suicide and deaths of migrant workers in the country are worse than that and will be talking about them in a future post.

Returning to Joe, it seems that our macho man was utterly bored at his meaningless existence which led him to disguise himself as a police officer, which is a crime as far as I know, and persecute migrant workers whose unfortunate paths cross his, leading him to harass them about where they’re working, where the money they have is from, and eventually raping them.

This kind of filth has had many victims, with one filipino worker’s message resonating with many others who have fallen prey to his crimes.

The post, on This Is Lebanon, reads as follows:

I would like to share about a Lebanese man that is pretending to be a policeman and catching foreigners like Filipinos, Ethiopians, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshi, especially those who don’t have documents. He has a white colored jeep but I don’t have the plate number. His name is Joe Semaan and you can find him on Facebook.

This is what happened to me. I was going home from work and was at Makallis Roundabout near to May Supermarket. A jeep stopped and the driver asked me for my residency permit. Unfortunately, I don’t have one so he forced me to get in his car and because I was afraid of him, I got in.

He asked me what was in my bag and I told him nothing. He asked me if I had alcohol or drugs and he checked inside. My bag is small and I had a little wallet inside which had $200 in it. He asked me angrily where I had got the money from and I told him it was from my salary. He asked me where I worked and who my sponsor was. He said he’d take me to my sponsor’s place so he could talk to him so I said ok, but when he was driving I noticed that he was going the wrong way (we were on the road to Monsourieh). I told him he was going in the wrong direction and that we were near my work place.

He told me he’d decided to take me to the police station. I begged him not to take me to the police as I needed to work to support my children in the Filippines. He told me it was my lucky day but I needed to do him a favour. I asked him what it was and he told me, “You are the one who knows what I want.” I told him I didn’t know what he wanted and he told me I had to sleep with him. I said, “Aren’t you afraid I might have HIV?” and he said he had a condom. I begged him for mercy and he said, “If you don’t want to sleep with me, give me a blow job”; I told him I’d rather go to the police station.

He drove me far above Monsourieh to where there were no houses. I told him I wouldn’t sleep with him and he should take me to the police. I asked him if I could call my boyfriend to tell him that I’d been caught and was being taken to the police but he wouldn’t let me call. Thank God, he let me go and dropped me at Abu Khalil Supermarket near Makallis. Before he dropped me off, he told me, “Next time I see you, you must get in my car quickly without me even talking to you.” I asked him his name and he told me it was Elie Haddad.

As soon as I got out, I ran home. When I got home I checked my wallet and found the $200 had gone. I cried a lot. He told me before he let me go that I would never forget this day. I told my friend what had happened and my friend said, “I know that man. I was also picked up by him in Bikfaya. I saw him on Facebook under the name of Joe Semaan. That was 3 years ago. He does it all the time.”

When I searched for him on Facebook, I found him. His profile pic was of the same man that picked me up. He works for an insurance company and lives in Antelias. When I saw him on Facebook, I saved his picture and created a group on Facebook to warn other Filipinos about him. Within an hour many, many people responded to the post saying that they also were victims. Not only Filipinos but also Ethiopians said they’d been picked up by him. We are asking for help from different organisations so that his man will be stopped. I am scared to testify but all his victims should unite and testify against him.

Such filth cannot run unchecked anymore. Lebanon’s ISF needs to get on top of it and arrest him, as well as make sure he cannot harm any other person anymore.