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.

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Awaiting The Rise of Assir 2.0

This is Lebanon. Picture courtesy of Cheyef 7alak.

This is Lebanon. Picture courtesy of Cheyef 7alak.

Ignorance is bliss.

Today, Lebanese bliss is illustrated in justified celebrations of the army’s victory over Ahmad el Assir’s gang in Saida. The celebrations aren’t just about our army adding a second victory to its list of victories in this country. They are also about the supposed downfall of Ahmad el Assir and with whatever he represents.

A lot can be said about Ahmad el Assir. A phenomenon is one. A bigot is two. A nauseating existence is three. A byproduct of the current times is four. A hypocrite is five. A lone case born out of immaculate conception is not six.

There are pertinent reasons as to why something like Ahmad el Assir existed. You can celebrate all you want that he was defeated and made to flee to who knows where because it makes you sleep better at night. You can extrapolate the battle with the army all you want to convince yourself that your hypocrisy towards the Syrian war is justified because it makes your brand of politics sound much nicer. You can call Ahmad el Assir and his gang terrorists and ridicule their existence as much as you like in order to further convince yourself that they are the only problem around this place.

I, however, am simply waiting for the rise of Ahmad el Assir 2.0 who, we can only hope, is not more extreme, not more prepared and better good-looking. Ahmad el Assir 2.0 is only a matter of time. At the rate things are going, the when may have just been given a catalyst because those same reasons that brought the original Ahmad el Assir into existence are still here, flexing their muscles left and right.

I remember when Ahmad el Assir first went on TV. He was portrayed as an irrelevant sheikh of some mosque in Saida no one had heard about. He had some serious allegations to say about Hezbollah. And the media listened. The second time he spoke, the media listened even further and decided they wanted others to listen as well. Slowly, he was given a halo. His life was turned into a reality TV show. His trips to the beach were documented. Journalists were taking personal tours around the city in his BMW X5. Even his outing to ski got turned into a national crisis.

Today, Ahmad el Assir is a lunatic – which he is – who dared to be the only entity in this country to attack our army, which he isn’t. The difference between Ahmad el Assir attacking our army and others is that the attack of those others comes with a big * to explain. It’s not all set in stone.

Samer Hanna was killed.*

*By an individual, not the party.

Nahr el Bared is a red line.*

*The civilians, not the armed men.

Excuses, excuses. Explanations, explanations. Ahmad el Assir’s abomination of an existence is simple: there is something else in this country that is even worse than he is and which most of the people panicking over the lunatic in question and the battle that took our infinitely-weak army one day to finish not only wholeheartedly accept but adore and chant for: Labbayka [insert name], labbayka [insert name]*.

*Name not inserted because.

Terrorism is not set in stone. It’s a matter of perception. Ahmad el Assir is a terrorist. Others who do similar actions are not.

Hezbollah is the main reason people like Ahmad el Assir exist in this country, the reason why his demented rhetoric resonates, the reason why he is able to find equally weak-minded people to recruit and the reason why he finds support.

When you have an entire party with arms in the country that are no longer used for their original purpose (in fact, they are being used for everything but that purpose lately), how can I tell someone like Ahmad el Assir who sees nothing but his sect being targeted that you’re not allowed to procure weapons?

How is the existence of Ahmad el Assir non-sensical when those arms are used to demolish the politics of moderate Sunnis and create a sense of Sunni weakness that is shared by moderate and extreme Sunnis alike, a weakness that the lunatics like him know how to milk?

What excuse can be given when those arms, supposedly being used to fight Israel, were employed in the clashes in Saida yesterday with a list of casualties that was propagated by news sources of different allegiances?

What excuse can be given when those arms are dragging the entire country to war in Syria because they’re somehow fighting Israel over there, a rhetoric their die-hard supporters eat up like a fat kid in a mountain of snickers, with a regime that decimated Lebanese for years, headed by the best anti-Israel dictator that Israel could hope for?

You want to stop Ahmad el Assir? You stop empowering the lunatics on all sides of the Lebanese equation. You stop using the argument that they are the only ones who can protect us from Israel as the status quo you don’t want to change and work on empowering our army so they become the only people to protect us from Israel. You stop being a hypocrite towards weapons that exist outside the jurisdiction of the state. You stop empowering the movements that disempower moderation and secretly empower extremism. You stop justifying the extremism that suits you.

Extremism is extremism. Terrorism is terrorism. You want a decent country for yourself and your children? Entities such as Hezbollah and Al Assir have to be removed. But, you know…*

*comes up with an excuse to justify the existence of one over the other and sleeps at night soundly.

Fadel Shaker Wants To Fight in Syria

I find it very hard to believe this is the same man who, a few years ago, was busy churning out hits about romance and love. Looking at him now, singing about love is the furthest thing from what I’d expect.

Fadel Shaker, currently serving as Ahmad el Assir’s right-hand, wants to fight for the honor of Muslim women in Syria. Therefore, he wants your support and money. He even has an email.

I’d write a line about the need for jihad calls in Syria emanating out of Lebanon to be illegal. But that would defeat the purpose seeing as Hezbollah is fighting with one side while Sunni extremists are fighting with another. And this isn’t really about the message behind Fadel Shaker’s message as much as it is about the radicalization of this former pop-star who now sends greetings to Sunni Muslims and only Sunni Muslims on Twitter, insults the patriarch and bashes anyone who dares criticize his master Ahmad el Assir.

Lebanon’s psychologists, wouldn’t he make a fine specimen for a case study?

 

Thank you Kalim Chidiac for the tip.

Ahmad el Assir’s Money Sources

I recently read an article about the financial means of Sunni extremist cleric Ahmad el Assir. After all, those weapons (that he doesn’t have) and the growing support he is garnering are not coming out of nowhere, despite his support arguably remaining very minimal across Lebanon, even among Sunnis despite what many want you to believe.

The article in question talks about where Mr. Al Assir is getting his money and the list is the following:

  • Qatar with input reaching the hundreds of thousands of dollars, through Beirut’s international airport and under the coverage of a member in the Lebanese cabinet. I want to know who.
  • Fadel Shaker. I regret buying that sporadic album I gave my mom on Mother’s Day way back when Fadel Shaker filmed music videos about love and with women.
  • Rashed Shaaban, owner of “Amir Rashed” restaurant and the uncle of one of the Islamists apprehended as a suspect in the assassination of Francois el Hajj.
  • The infamous “Kaak Abou Arab” shops.
  • Shawarma Abu Bahij in Saida
  • There are other sources which you can check at the link but these are the ones that seem familiar to me.

    Ahmad el Assir’s phenomenon isn’t “unusual” given the current situation in Lebanon. It doesn’t mean that this phenomenon is acceptable and I, for one, won’t support it in any way, even indirectly.

    That’s not to say those that those Al Assir speaks out against are better. They’re more dangerous than what he will ever become and he’s an irrelevant entity in comparison. But isn’t that how they all begin?

    I can’t do anything about Qatar. They have so much money they’re about to start using it as toilet paper. But I can stop going to Kaak Abou Arab and do what I can, 1000LL at a time.

    The Christian Extremism of Kfardebian

    I don’t like Ahmad el Assir. I’m sure this goes to at least 90% of the Lebanese population as well. We all know he’s an extremist. We all know his mentality is rotten. We all know his ideology is something that very few people share. But when Ahmad el Assir wants to go ski, it’s sure as hell his right to go ski. Wherever he wants. Whenever he wants. However he wants. With whoever he wants.

    As long as it’s all legal of course. And even that is a gray area because, as you know, law and Lebanon are oil and water. Of course, Al Assir praying at this very moment in the square of the town that didn’t want to host him is not only an act of provocation, it’s something that reflects how mentally deranged and sickening this man is.

    I’d like to see the Lebanese army try to stop the prayers though. Oh wait.

    A bunch of God-fearing Christians of Kfardebian, in the heart of the Maronite heartland of Keserwan, decided that Ahmad el Assir hitting their slopes with a few of his supporters was too much for them to handle. So they decided to cut him off instead and go in a stand off with the army for hours.

    Al Assir wasn’t the first “politician” – or whatever he is – to go ski in Mzaar. But he sure got preferential treatment. Was it that beard?

    Two people were wounded before Assir was able to go about his skiing attempt. Welcome to Lebanon – where someone going skiing can turn into a country ordeal. Nothing is too out of the box for us, right?

    What those righteous Christians of Kfardebian failed to realize, however, is that they are even worse than Ahmad el Assir in their disgusting mentality. Al Assir is a Muslim extremist sure. But they’re the exact same thing, with a different religion. Perhaps with no beard and a few less wives.

    And you know who’s as bad as those Christian extremists? Those who are turning them into heroes for doing what they did. Those who are proud of what those Christians did. Those who believe that what those Christians did is somehow us telling everyone that we won’t be trampled on.

    Lebanese Christians talk and talk about how extremism is rising among Muslims. All of them seem not to know how to look in the mirror and see how their own extremism is on an exponential rise these days. They have probably never read the Bible in its entirety. They sure as hell can’t recite verses out of the Bible. But they can perfectly orchestrate dramatic brouhahas out of their Christianity.

    Jesus Christ would not approve. But what do I know. We have our existence to maintain in this country… one ski slope at a time.