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.

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Racism & Slavery: The Perfect Gift For A Lebanese Mother

Mother’s day is coming up and the mass hysteria surrounding the perfect gift to get our mothers is on an upward trajectory all this week. Should I get her a new home appliance, or would that send the wrong message? Should I just get flowers, or would that be too tacky?

Well, it seems that the answer is easier than you think. Why don’t you just get a bunch of “help” to your mother, discounts guaranteed?

Posted on Kafa’s Facebook page today is the following screenshot of a text message that a woman named Rola Koubaissy received:

Isn’t that such a good deal? They have special offers on Kenyans and Ethiopians. How is that not even a bargain?

Lebanon isn’t a country where sensibilities towards those of a different skin color are respected. Racism is widely present, sometimes unintentional and sometimes fully intended. All of the country’s migrant workers, especially the darker their skin goes, are victims of racism, horrifying lack of basic human rights and dismal salaries that many even find are “high” to pay for such “creatures.” But we’re paying them too much, a Lebanese woman would say about her maid’s $200 salary, as she clutches the bag she just purchased somewhere for about 10 times that amount.

You see these people who risk everything to come to this country of ours and get called dumb, stupid even when they learn our language and our ways from scratch. You see them being told off in public. You see them being placed on separate tables in restaurants or kept standing holding a purse while the family eats. Their passports are hijacked, they are imprisoned in our homes but few are those who find anything wrong with that.

And because all of that wasn’t enough, there are companies now that are publicly discounting them based on their passport. What’s sadder is that the people that sent the above text have no idea how unacceptably racist, horrifying and utterly disgusting their action is.

Housekeeping is not a profession to be ridiculed. Offering discounts on people just because they come from a certain country is not only nauseating, it’s a symptom of a greater problem in a country that sees people who are different as nothing more than commodities who can be exchanged for money, who divides them based on racial categories, the darker you are the cheaper you get maybe?

I tried to call the number in question but there was no answer. I contacted Roula Kobaissy and she said she had absolutely no dealing with that office before. She was unaware others in her area have received such a message as well.

Welcome to the country where modern-age slavery is advertised by text messages.

Update:

They apologized, which goes well with my point that they didn’t even know it was racist to begin with.

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 Update 2:

The Ministry of Labor is closing down the bureau according to LBC (Link).

The Lebanese Help: New TV Hosts Ali Mahfouz – The Man Who Beat Up The Ethiopian Maid

The “Lil Nashr” TV show, hosted by Tony Khalife, had Ali Mahfouz as one of its main guests for its Saturday March 17th episode. Mafhouz is the man that beat up the Ethiopian maid in front of her embassy. The maid has since committed suicide.

Using the platform of the TV show, Mafhouz tried to come off as an affectionate man who deeply cared for the girl and was trying to sort out her affairs. He even went further than that and said he would never beat her up and that moment outside the embassy was unlike him.

The rest of this post will be assuming that Mr. Mafhouz was, indeed, acting outside of his character – although I have to say that modern psychiatry and psychology would assert that this violent behavior is, in fact, within his character, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Now, Mr. Mafhouz goes even further and argues that the maid, whose name is Alem Dechasa, was mentally ill and an unstable presence for him and the people she knew. He even cites a coroner’s report that she was having auditory hallucinations while still alive to “prove his point.”

The end result of the episode, which I was able to touch from both my parents, is that many individuals have lost their compassion to the maid and are now seeing her as an insane person, which clears Mr. Mahfouz. He is not in the wrong anymore.

Let’s get a few things straight.

1) A coroner’s job is to examine a dead body for a cause of death, among other factors. There is no way that a coroner (or medical examiner) can tell if the deceased person they’re examining was having psychotic episodes while they were still alive. It is beyond their scope. It is impossible to tell if a dead person was mentally ill via an autopsy and more importantly, there’s no way a coroner would have the authority to write a report containing such information.

2) I am very dismissive when it comes to Lebanese media for many reasons. But I never expected a TV show to host a man like Ali Mahfouz without advocating the victim’s side. This is not how proper journalism works, especially if it’s a TV station that supposedly respects itself. For the entire duration of the show, the arguments of the Ali Mahfouz camp were so front loaded that any attempt to speak on behalf of Alem Dechasa were rendered meaningless. This leads me to point 3.

3) The purpose of the episode, which I’m sure Tony Khalife is very proud of, was not to showcase the Alem Dechasa abuse in an objective manner. It was simply to help clear Ali Mahfouz’s reputation and to convert him from the man who led an innocent woman to her death to a man who was simply escaping the ramblings of a lunatic. Judging by the reactions I got from my parents, which I’m sure echo many other households that decided to tune in, their goal was achieved. New TV must be very happy with themselves.

It is a sad day when a victim’s reputation is tarnished just so an influential Lebanese man can escape the consequences of his actions. A few days from now, the whole affair will be forgotten. It has already started. Those who had thought Alem Dechassa was innocent are now believing the contrary. The rationalization of the Lebanese ego that a Lebanese can never behave this way is starting to work full throttle. The government will soon follow suit, especially as the wheels of Mr. Mahfouz’s “wasta” start spinning.

Alem Dechassa was killed three times. Once when her body was violated in front of her embassy and dragged into Ali Mahfouz’s car. The second time was when she got so desperate and took her own life. The third time was with the Lel Nashr episode that portrayed her as insane. The end result is simple: the victim becomes the abuser and the abuser becomes the victim. Well done New TV. Well done.

The Lebanese Help: An Ethiopian Maid Beaten Up In Front of her Embassy

After initiating a new section on this blog called The Lebanese Help, the details of which you can check out here, LBC has procured a video of an Ethiopian maid being beaten up in front of her embassy by a Lebanese man.

I won’t comment on the content of the video. I’ll just leave you to judge.

The whole anti-racism movement in Lebanon is so weak it grasps at straws, even if it’s a harmless comedy skit. We also tend to get up in a fit the moment something like this video surfaces. We never see the maids as people who are coming here because they really have to, not because they want to.

We think with our $150 we can own them. We think with the miserable salary we give them, we can silence them.

But the maids have a story. And I will tell it. Those who will read them, good on you. Those who don’t, you’ll find company in darkness.