Why Those Who Insult Istanbul’s Victims Should Always Be Challenged, Not Ignored

I never thought that we, as a country first and foremost and as a region in the grander scheme of things, would so grossly disagree about our characterization of the victims of the Istanbul attacks. I’m not talking about whether they are martyrs or victims, but about people who are so full of hate that not only do they not mourn but believe others should not mourn too.

Those people have forsaken every ounce of humanity and turned the barbaric deaths of innocents as yet another event to correlate with their religious, sectarian or even political discourse.

Ramzi El Kadi & Huffington Post Arabi:

Earlier yesterday, I posted screengrabs from a Twitter account by someone named Ramzi Al Kadi on my blog’s Facebook page. Soon enough, the story was picked up by news outlets and it went viral.

Within minutes, Al Kadi was being called all kinds of names as if he were the only entity in this country and region regurgitating that horrifying word-vomit. Some were attacking the way he looked, digging through his entire online history and bringing it back to haunt him.

El Kadi had said he did not want to mourn the victims. He thought what happened to them was well-deserved given that they were at a night club, which is in his opinion is a disgrace of a place. To him, the victims – Rita, Elias and Haykal – were nothing more than sinners who had it coming for wanting to have fun at a “whore house.”

Unfortunately, Al-Kadi isn’t a lone example. You only need to head to Huffington Post Arabi’s Facebook page to see the exact same rhetoric being spewed by Arabs in the comments section. In an article posted by the page about Lebanese victim Rita El Chami, the comments ranged from those who were sympathetic to her sacrifice, calling her a hero, to those – like Al Kadi – who saw her as nothing more than – again, I quote – “a whore” for partying the end of the year away, wishing that she’d “go to hell.”

The debate in Saudi Arabia about the Istanbul attacks isn’t about their dead, but about whether they were at a nightclub or a restaurant, because that makes a difference in how their death is perceived. Palestinian victim Leanne Nasser is suffering from the same discourse back home: whether it was appropriate of her to go party the night away. It was her first trip abroad.

To note, Ramzi Al Kadi is saying his Twitter account was hacked. I don’t see why given there’s no value in hacking an account with 200 followers, but it’s a statement to be conveyed. Ramzi has since been arrested in order for his tweets to be investigated, which – regardless of how disgusting what his tweets were – is not something we should accept. Being an asshole is not a crime.

Hassan Hamzeh & Politics:

 

Al Manar reporter Hassan Hamzeh decided to insult the victims of Istanbul’s terrorist attacks from a different perspective. To him, this was pure politics. Being a Hezbollah supporter, he saw the attacks on Istanbul as nothing more than a chance for him to gloat in revenge and spite.

“Istanbul is paying the price it should pay” he tweeted. He then followed it up with: “Istanbul should pay more,” before concluding with: “Erdogan, you reap what you sow.”

To Hassan Hamzeh, the victims from all backgrounds are nothing more than pawns in his party’s political game, their entire lives and families and loved ones be damned as long as he can be satisfied that a city and a country he despises are being broken like this.

Other politically-charged social media users were annoyed at how the victims of Istanbul’s attacks were being called martyrs compared to others who “didn’t sacrifice their lives at a nightclub,” as if the location of where you are brutally killed has some bearing over the worth of your life and death.

While the Lebanese government flexed its muscles with helpless people like Al-Kadi, Hassan Hamzeh – with his political backbone – is still at large, free to roam and tweet more hateful things because he’s untouchable.

Why We Should Speak Up:

Regardless of where people die because of such vicious attacks – whether at a club, a brothel, church or Mosque – the sanctity of death should be respected. You have to be at a whole other level of deplorable to disrespect the passing of people whose only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time because you don’t like where they were or what they were doing.

When I first posted Ramzi Al-Kadi’s screenshots, people said that giving people like him such exposure makes them feel important and gives them power, that their negativity had no place in times of mourning. I disagree.

The best way for hate and bigotry to prosper is for them to run unchecked for a lifetime. The more we stay silent, the more we let such horrors fester in the minds and souls of those who are most susceptible, and the more Ramzis and Hassans we will have to deal with later on.

Our bubble as millennials or liberals has gotten us to think that the majority of people share our views and as such most will find the words of Ramzi or Hassan as abhorrent as we do, and that might be the case with many, but today’s world is far from being one where we can remain silent to people who insult victims just because they can.

Staying silent to people like all of those who insulted the victims of the Istanbul attacks in LaReina has a lot to do with why we are dealing with entities like Trump, Le Pen, Brexit and a rising trend in right wing extremism all around the world, why we are reeling from the effects of living in a post-truth existence where facts have become matters of opinion for many.

There remains a huge populace that lives among us that believes in what Ramzi Al-Kadi said, without them proclaiming it. We live in a conservative Arab world where it’s very easy to forget, as the only people we talk to are those who think like us, that there are those beyond our walls who believe that nightclubs are abominations, that those who frequent them are sinners and that those who die there should not be mourned.

Those people you want us to ignore are voters, influencers, mothers and fathers. We can’t repress them into a basket to be tucked away just because we feel like the higher road is the better road. To drive our society forward, those people’s ideas – not the way they look as many have criticized Ramzi – should always be challenged. We can’t shy away from the ideological debate taking place wherever we roam for fear of the challenge, or of upsetting others and ourselves.

Ramzi Al-Kadi and those who think like him think their ideas and beliefs are as valid, and should be applied on a more grander scale than just tweets or Facebook comments. To better our societies, we can’t just dismiss those ideas outright just because they’re horrifying. We have to listen, criticize, challenge the core of their thoughts.

The cycle of us versus them will never end if we stay silent and let the cycle perpetuate without breaking it. It’s easier to imagine “them” as enemies who hate the way we live no matter what. But “they” are victims of ideas that have been entrenched in their minds for years, and those ideas can be beaten if we take up the mantle of the fight.

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Lebanese TV Reporter Doesn’t Think Women Are Good Enough To Run For Elections

The saga of Lebanese women and high profile people who think they are not worthy of things that are their right continues, and this time it’s with Ali Noureddine, a reporter on conservative Hezbollah-affiliated TV Al-Manar. A few days ago, a beauty queen whose rise to prominence was solely due to her sex appeal decided women should not engage in premarital sex, but that men should. I guess Ali and Nadine would fit well in the circle of people taking Lebanese women back eons.

Ali Nour Eddine doesn’t think women are good enough to run for elections and take on political work. Why? Because she’s supposed to “stay home, finish her chores and then come preach.” Why? Because “religions have never had female prophets or female philosophers.” Why? Because “it’s not her job nor is it her capacity.”

What would the female presenters at Al Manar say to a person like Ali Nour Eddine when they’ve been leading the news reports for years? What would Ali’s mother tell him when he’d look her in the eye and tell her that she is not good enough? What would all those mothers who gave birth to all of Ali’s employer’s martyrs say when he tells them that they are good enough?

I wonder, how can Ali Nour Eddine look all his women teachers in the eye, over the years, and tell them that they are not good enough just because they were not born with a penis between their legs.

Ali Nour Eddine seems to forget that women have had a role in religion. Has he forgotten about Mariam? Has he forgotten about Khadija or Aisha or Zainab? If you want to be religious in your argument, read your own religion.

Either way, since when is religion the indicator of whether a gender should be allowed to enter politics or not? Even Saudi Arabia has allowed women to vote, and run, and thousands of them have and won. Ali Nour Eddine’s mentality is worse than that.

If the only thing you know of women Mr. Ali Nour Eddine is for them to cook for you, open their legs for you, clean for you, and do whatever you think is right and whatever it is you want, then not only are you mistaken, but you’re just another Lebanese man who has made it his duty to subjugate the other sex into nothing more than a shell of a person whose entire purpose is to serve him.

Let me tell you, Ali, about my Lebanese women.

They are people who want to seek office, and change lives for the women you’ve ruined. They’re people like the 12 courageous souls that ran with Beirut Madinati less than 3 weeks ago and changed Beirut’s political landscape alone.

They are people like my own mother who has never let a man put her in place, who has shown she can stand up for herself and more in a world solely run by men.

They are people like Therese, who is running alone for elections in my hometown Ebrine and who wants to show women that yes, they can also do so.

They are our school teachers, and our professors who shape our lives with their knowledge and kindness like few men can.

They are the people who have fought for women to be protected from men who think like you, who think that women are second class citizens who can be forced to bed whenever they want, who can be slammed around just because they can, and managed to pass a law to give those women a fighting chance.

They are the women fighting for better electoral laws to make sure that there’s more than single digit percentages of them seeking office, to make sure that the numbers don’t agree with you, to make sure that you are wrong in every single way.

They are the women who make me proud to be Lebanese when I’m horrified that I share the country with people like you, and people who “like” what you have to say.

As of writing this, Ali Nour Eddine has deleted his status, but social media always remembers.

 

Al Manar & The Lebanese Forces Israeli Agent

He’s a “known” Israeli agent. He’s roaming the streets of Beirut. He has pictures with Israeli soldiers in the background. His name is Pierre Nammour. And he’s “threatening” with murder in Downtown Beirut.

They focus on his neck. He’s wearing a Lebanese Forces Cross. Because it’s common knowledge that the LF are known for being Israel-loving, non-Lebanese Lebanese. Showing that Cross, with its split base and the delta, will definitely add credibility to the report, they thought.

Throw in an interview there and you’ve got a scoop. Al Manar just unveiled an “Israeli agent” who wants to start war in Lebanon. There’s even a video.

A few comments though.

1) Assuming the pictures are real and not photoshopped which they may clearly be (Al Manar are sure pros at forgery), I’m sure I can find many, many pictures of Lebanese with Israeli soldiers in the background. It’s a byproduct of them occupying part of the country for approximately 20 years. If you go and take pictures at the Lebanese border now, odds are you will have an Israeli soldier in your picture’s background. It’s not enough for me to call them traitors but apparently it is for Al Manar. A Hezbollah militant decides to smile for the camera with an Israeli soldier in the background… Automatic traitor. Or not.

2) If Pierre Nammour is such a known traitor and those pictures are real and he has served in the Israeli army and he has killed Lebanese, etc., then why isn’t he in jail? I’m certain his political affiliation cannot pull enough strings to keep him out as Al Manar’s party did with “others.” Because even when it comes to treason, Lebanon has various degrees. There are some which don’t serve you politically and there are some which do.

3) How this shows that Israel is behind the assassination of Al Hassan is beyond me. And that was Al Manar’s conclusion apparently.

4) Al Manar has certainly made a splash out of the man saying that he’s willing to kill those who threaten him if the need arises. I wonder though, how many of the militants that Al Manar loves and cherishes would say the exact same thing and have probably done it more than once before and not only against Israelis?

5) What’s probably the best testament to the bullshit in Al Manar’s report is the fact that it’s one minute long. I would assume exposing an Israeli spy who’s threatening civil war would warrant more airtime.

Pierre Nammour is definitely an instinct-driven man, like many other Lebanese, who thinks with his beretta first and foremost. That’s definitely not acceptable but he’s not the only one in the country who thinks that way. Should he be turned into a news item? How about we turn the million or so Lebanese who think like him into news pieces too?

No one should expect anything remotely acceptable from a TV station like Al Manar, known for the absolute and utter crap they air day in day out. But it is a sad day when treason becomes a passe-par-tout accusation.

Till when should the Lebanese airwaves be littered with “n’importe quoi” news just because their target audience likes them?

Al Manar’s Anti-Jews Brainwashing

While reading an article by Beirut Report about how local media handled the recent Beirut fire, nothing struck me as much as a screencap that was taken of something Al Manar TV was broadcasting – a cartoon for kids.

The picture showed a bad-looking man, with a chef hat, roasting a chicken. The chef hat had the Star of David symbol on it.

Now I have to ask. I was under the impression that Hezbollah, who obviously owns Al Manar, timidly asked people to differentiate between a Jew and a zionist. How is this calling for that?

The Star of David is not a zionist symbol, it’s a religious Jewish symbol similar to the Crescent for Muslims and the Cross for Christians. Having that symbol in a cartoon aimed at young kids helps them learn that Jews are not their enemy how?

What’s worse, I’m pretty certain that parents who let their children watch such a thing approve of the ideology being disseminated. How despicable. When will Hezbollah and co know that Jews are not Lebanon’s enemies?

The sad thing is that we have a Jewish community in Lebanon that’s becoming more afraid and secluded by the day and things like this can only mean the path will get worse for them. When will Hezbollah know that Lebanese Jews have as much a right of existing freely and without fear as their Shiite followers?

I remember when I was a kid, our cartoon of choice was something on the Disney channel, Pokemon or Digimon. How about Al Manar shows the kids those stuff instead? Oh wait, I’m sure there’s a zionist mentality there somehow. My bad. Let’s teach kids how all Jews are killing us instead.

 

Hassan Nasrallah… Why So Silent?

Anyone else wondering why the head of Hezbollah is abnormally silent these days regarding almost everything going on?

I mean, a week into the Egyptian revolution and we had already gotten a speech about the greatness Egypt was going through. And yet, a week into the Syrian revolution and the Hezbollah camp is more silent that a mute person.

This takes me back to a point I made earlier, about the hypocrisy of said party and leader. When things are going their way, it’s very easy for them to come on TV and issue a speech about it. But when their second most trusted ally in the region is under fire, the same arguments given to support what was going in Egypt and Tunisia and Bahrain suddenly go down the drain.

Aren’t the Syrian people deserving of life and freedom and everything that you said the Egyptian people deserved? Aren’t they deserving of democracy and a leader that doesn’t bash them left and right? Or is that only applicable when the leader is loyal to you?

Moreover, Al Manar TV, also known as Hezbollah’s TV, said yesterday that the March 14 camp might be behind the Syrian uprising.

Syrian TV said the protests are filmed in Tripoli, Lebanon and March 14 is behind them as well.

I have a few questions to ask:

1) Do you really think this makes sense?

2) Do you think that if it did make sense, the March 14 camp has the resources to do a whole uprising in Syria?

3) Do you think if the March 14 camp even had the resources, they’d be able to use them in Syria? They’re struggling to get themselves together in Lebanon, let alone a country that is as hostile to their existence as the Iceland volcano?

Too many questions… too little answers and one whole load of bull.