Instagramming A Suicide Bomber

#Instabomb.

I’ve been wondering if our media salivates like Pavlov’s dog when they get wind of yet another explosion takes place in this country. Their coverage sure always sounds like a kid who was given a new shiny toy on Christmas morning: relentless, excited, carefree, all over the place and – more importantly – chaotic.

I, for one, live in lala land. As a consequence, I’m becoming more or less ignorant as to what’s taking place around me politically. I’d like to think of it as a blessing in disguise. It feels good not to know sometimes. What’s constant throughout my enforced ignorance, however, is people always telling me about the horrors they’ve been seeing on television as if the explosions we all have to withstand were not enough: we are also being forced to get desensitized to the charred remains of human beings.

Social media has done wonders to Lebanese media. It has given them more ways to communicate, made them more approachable and has gotten them to become slowly but surely in competition with lesser known forms of media that could be faster at getting news out there. But when is taking social media while reporting news way too far?

Say you want to Instagram a suicide bomber’s remains, what filter would you use?

Yes, that question may be completely absurd but a Lebanese TV station basically did just that a couple of days ago when they posted on their Instagram account the remains of the suicide bomber who detonated himself in Choueifat. I’m not an Instagram expert but is that filter “valencia?”

You can check out a screenshot of the image here.

I thought I’ve seen all that the media in this country could do. I was wrong. Explosions are horrible but diffusing such material is barbaric in its own right as well. What’s even sadder is that as a culture and country, we are becoming increasingly habituated to seeing such things that a well known TV station figured it was a good idea to snap an Instagram picture and broadcast it for people to “like” and comment in.

What is there to “like” about some terrorist’s unknown body part? What is there to comment on? What form of discussion are we trying to have by constantly exposing whoever has eyes to see to such things?

Like Pavlov’s dog, let them salivate over the next body part they want to Instagram. It’s only a matter of time now till the next “it” thing becomes a selfie with a suicide bomber’s body part. I think the “Hudson” filter would work excellently with that.

A Lebanese Tragedy: The Devaluation of a Life

Who gives a fuck? was the first thing I heard today when we were made aware of another Beirut explosion. It was just a bomb all over again. And people were dead, as usual, all over again. Typical and warranted was what I had heard.

On the other side of the room, a frantic woman was calling her parents to see if they were okay. If their house was intact. If she still had a roof to return to. Then she drew a sigh of relief. And I was relieved for her. But I was also disgusted.

There I was in a room of supposedly intellectuals with two drastically different reactions to an event that should have, at least, gotten everyone to feel sorry and disgusted and horrified. Pity the nation that was more upset at a cat being microwaved or a concert being canceled than at its own children, men and women getting blown to pieces because of retarded and narrow political calculation.

This is a reply to Qalmoun versus the reply will be in Qalmoun. Are you serious? Lebanese were using this tragedy to give some credibility to their demented politics, as mothers grieved their sons while sifting through the remains that our media were more than happy to show on their screens. Look! I’m holding an arm! Pretty cool eih? 

I guess it’s too redundant to talk about media professionalism, about not jumping to conclusions when news first start trickling in.

There’s a time and a place to die. But 2013 Lebanon on a random Beiruti street, due to a cowardly act of terrorism isn’t it. 2013 Lebanon where your death is meaningless, another figure in a growing number of casualties who will soon be forgotten is not it.

Do you know what the saddest part in all of this is? There are those who believe such deaths are “fida” whoever it is they follow. Perhaps I don’t get it. Perhaps I don’t understand how it is to be part of such a sociological following. But I’d hate for my life to be wasted for someone who couldn’t care less, sitting in a bunker twenty feet under or in a fortress in some mountain throwing accusations here and there before proceeding with la dolce vita once the poison stops dropping.

I’d hate for my life to end and be called  a martyr by entities who cannot not be politically correct in order for my mother to feel better about it while I’m just a victim of this country where everyone does as they please without any ounce of calculations of possible ramifications on all those people, like you and I, who don’t get a say in how things in their country should run, in their safety (or lack thereof) and in the way they should die: not in bits and pieces on a desolate Beiruti street.

Our lives are more important than to pretend it’s okay for us to die as a “sacrifice” for someone, whoever that someone is. My life is not “fida” anyone. Your life should not be “fida” anyone. Thinking that it’s okay for a life to be dispensable for someone is not okay. Thinking that it’s okay for your life to be dispensable means such tragedies will keep on happening as long as there are people who are willing to be collateral damage in a war that isn’t theirs, that doesn’t involve them and that doesn’t infringe upon them except in death.

There is no ulterior purpose being served. There’s no cause being championed. There’s no heavenly place awaiting the victors. There’s grief-struck parents being left behind. There’s a deeply split nation whose divide is growing wider. There are nauseatingly political individuals who have begun milking this for whatever purpose floats their boats. And there are those who are awaiting the next opportunity for their lives to be “fida” someone.

Our turn is next week, a friend of mine from Tripoli said. I couldn’t tell her she was mistaken.  

Meanwhile, life around where I was went on normally. People had no worries on their mind as they shuffled through their daily motions, seemingly indifferent that the other part of their capital was going to cry itself to sleep tonight.

Rest in peace to all those wasted and forcefully devalued Lebanese lives we have lost and we will lose to bombs, explosions, suicide bombers and ruthless politics, those lives that are more important than to be wasted “fida” anyone.

Lebanon, Screw This

It’s been one week since our news broadcasts last cut out regular useless programming to let us know that a part of our country was burning to the ground following an explosion, that people were dying, that terrorism had struck yet again.

It’s been one week since innocent people lost their lives just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Last week, those people were shopping. This week, those same people were praying. How many more wrong places and wrong times are we supposed to accept as a justification to the absolute hell we are living through?

What is the current situation in Lebanon? I don’t really know. There’s no diagnostic criteria to follow to really ascertain how deep this goes. There’s simply a sense of “if no one I knew died then it’s sad but forgettable” that’s roaming around. Till when are we supposed to be happy that someone we know didn’t die just because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time?

Till when will our media worry first and foremost about the explosion being in the proximity of a politician’s house, one that he barely uses, then after making sure that politician was okay turn around to examine the possibility of other irrelevant casualties like you and me and then parade their burnt corpses for sheer shock value left and right – except those pictures don’t even shock us anymore?

What is this country in which you are forced to worry about doing the most mundane of things just because you might die doing them? What is this cause that needs to target people who are praying? What is this cause that needs to target people who were shopping?

Why are these causes and wars entering our country through open wide doors? Why is my country always getting screwed, always in a state of violence?

What is this need for people to start throwing blame on those who satisfy their rhetoric of choice just moments after an explosion, while the wounded are still bleeding and the victims have still to be found?

What is this life in which our mothers waste all their tears away, worrying for our sakes, while the only thing that we might have done is drive past a street that ended up becoming ground zero a few minutes later? Till when will our fathers regret not leaving and establishing our families in countries where they don’t have to worry about their sons and daughters meeting their demise on the blown up tarmac, resting on blown up concrete?

How further can our cities handle being ripped apart this way? How much more can the people of Tripoli take in a city that has not only been destroyed by gun violence but now has an affinity for explosions as well?

What is this life in which a strange car on your home street can cause you insomnia? What is this life when your own home doesn’t feel safe anymore?

How is this any different from the times they want us to believe are long gone, “tenzeker w ma ten3ad?” How further down the abyss will every single one of our politicians take us now that they have yet another opportunity to get their rhetoric to sink further, to let their anger seep to surface even more, to let people hate each other more than they already do?

All the words resonate emptily. All of our mothers’ tears fall down on useless surfaces. All of our worry won’t change a thing. All our anger won’t make a dent. All of the victims will soon be forgotten. All of the explosions are to be replaced by the next explosion which takes center stage. All of the people are to mourn in days that are becoming way too many. Nineteen have died in Tripoli today as a first estimate. Nineteen men and women and children died just because they felt like being closer to the entity they worship on a day of worshipping. If there’s really a God, He must have left this land a long, long time ago.

It’s just a bomb, again? Should we be “resilient” again? Lebanon, screw this.

It’s Just A Bomb

I was watching a movie today.

What a mundane and worthless sentence to start anything with. But I was watching a movie today.

It was a quiet afternoon. I had seen a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. We spoke about our lives. We didn’t talk about politics. I drank minted lemonade. She drank coffee. The time passed.

But yes, I was watching a movie today. And it was a theatre full of people who were watching the movie with me. And less than five minutes from where the movie was taking place, part of my country was getting blown up to pieces, people were getting blown up to bits.

And there I was, watching a movie.

The theatre doors closed behind us as we made our way out of the complex. Look, an explosion happened nearby, my friend told me. Make sure you make your way out calmly. I looked around and people had no other care in the world. Those who were shopping were still going about their chores meticulously. The people hoarding the escalators were still doing so extravagantly.

And there I was, pissed beyond fury, trying to see if my other friend was home and if anything had happened to her.

She is 23. In statistical terms, her life is well ahead of her. In real terms, she is terrified by a window slamming, fireworks going off or anything that reminds her of the bombs she has endured for years. I was relieved to know she hadn’t gone home today. I was glad she was okay. What a fucked up country, I told her. Yes, she replied. Is there anything more redundant to say?

I checked the news on my way to my car. Many were dead. Many more were injured. No officials were targeted. It was an attack simply against people like me who decided to spend their afternoon off, courtesy of the Virgin Mary’s ascension, to shop with their kids, with their mothers, with their families or friends, just like me.

The drive home was uneventful. People were still going around their afternoon business like it was nobody’s business. Life was sluggishly going on. It was bound to pick up its pace tomorrow. I was sure all would be forgotten by next week. This is our span. I guess that’s how it rolls.

As I neared residential areas of my country’s torn capital, I could hear the news blasting off balconies as people huddled next to their TV sets. Tripoli was joining the game as well because that city doesn’t like to be left out of the big celebrations. Politicians were salivating over their upcoming TV opportunities to express their condemnation while secretly insinuating that this party’s interference here and there led to this or that other party’s condemnation of some party’s actions has led to this, while people’s flesh still burns on the asphalt and cement. But don’t you be mistaken, sympathy supersedes policy.

The people were expressing sympathy. There was a tinge of unity as so happens in the face of true national tragedies. I figure it would only be a matter of time before someone parades this. Those who wanted to express sympathy figured stating their sect at the start of their sentence would give it some credibility. Others were more worried about the potential day off tomorrow. It was, after all, a day of national mourning. Aren’t those getting way too many and springing up way too often? But what would a day do to the mother who will mourn all her life?

It’s just a bomb. We tell it to ourselves like it’s nothing. A bomb. An explosion. Destruction, rubble, death. We’re getting way too used to it. We’re getting too comfortable with the way we live around it. We’re getting too subdued in the way we just take it, brush it off and long for the day when we forget. It’s just a bomb.

What Was Hezbollah Thinking?

Did you hear? According to a top notch Bulgarian investigative panel, we are now resisting Israel -all the way in Bulgaria.
It doesn’t make sense to you? No worries, it’s not supposed to. It’s only supposed to make sense to Hezbollah and apparently it does.

Long gone are the days when we await Israeli confrontation in order for our men to bravely fight for our land and lose their lives in the process. Long gone are the days when resisting Israel happens from our own land, the South, which pays heavily every single time we resist.

Today, the only question I can ask is: what the hell was Hezbollah thinking?

Whenever my country enters into a war with Israel, I will stand by my people and my land no matter what. Whether they are right or wrong, whether they started it or not – for the entire duration of the war, I will stand by them. When the war is over though, another story unfolds.

I cannot, however, as a Lebanese support the blowing up of the Bulgaria bus incident no matter what possible explanation is provided for the operation .

Where does Hezbollah want to take the country with this action?
Do they really think the country can handle have one of the main parties in the government to be labeled as a terrorist organization by the European Union?
What repercussions will that have on our fragile political balance, on our economy? How does it reflect on the government that Hezbollah did the operation while in power without anyone else in the government knowing about it, similarly to the 2006 war?

7 years have not taught us anything.

Why did Hezbollah want to kill a bunch of Israeli tourists? Is us resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine now contingent upon us killing as many civilians as possible? What’s the fault of a tourist for being the citizen of a country we don’t approve of? How does us killing civilians differ us from all those terrorist groups whose goal in life is to cause as many innocent casualties as possible?

I don’t think Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. I do not agree with many of their practices but when it matters the most, I cannot but be grateful for defending my country.
But our support as Lebanese for reckless practices should not be unconditional especially when the repercussions of such actions do not reflect on Hezbollah alone but on the entire country as well.

Imagine the following scenario: Lebanese friends from different sects and regions decide to hop on a plane to Paris. While touring the city in a bus, the bus blows up and they all die. The Mossad is to blame.
Far-fetched, perhaps. But do we really want to take the war with Israel to people whose only fault is being a national of one side of the conflict?

What the hell was Hezbollah thinking? I, for one, can’t come up with convincing answers because I really can’t think how this is any good for them in any way. And if they can actually reach other countries and act this powerfully, which I can’t really wrap my head around, why don’t they do things that are more “useful?”

What I hope for though is for the party to come up with proof that the entire investigation was a politicized fabrication especially with the very fast condemnations from Israelis and Americans. Unlikely and foolish, perhaps, but I’m hopeful that one of my country’s main parties is not that short-sighted to land themselves as a terrorist group all around the world.

The Achrafieh Explosion – Go Donate Blood Now!

One of Beirut’s main neighborhoods, Achrafieh, was just blown away by a huge explosion at its heart, in the midst of Sassine Square. The details are still vastly unclear but it looks to be a non-political blast – the aim could be to cause as much casualties and damage as possible seeing as it went off at rush hour.

According to the Lebanese civil defense, 8 people were killed so far with 78 others injured. You can follow the details over at LBC and MTV.

The explosion seems to have taken place in a building immediately next to the telecom center, Ogero.

Now, the casualties from the blast are pouring down to the three nearby hospitals: Rizk, Hotel Dieu and St. George (Roum) Hospital. What I ask of any reader that stumbles on this and who happens to be close is to go down to the hospital and donate blood – no matter what your blood type is.

Meanwhile, some Lebanese are beginning to worry about their weekend. My friends in Achrafieh, stay safe – your (and my) region has been through much worse than this and it has always gone through: الأشرفية قوية.

The Church Explosion Derivation

On Sunday morning, an explosion rocked the Syriac church of Saydit Al Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Zahle. Every Lebanese official denounced the explosion, naturally, as a barbaric act, against the “example” of coexistence that is Lebanon, bla bla bla.

Now let us start our derivation of who is responsible for this attack.

Naturally, it can’t be a non-Lebanese because most Lebanese barely know of the existence of the targeted sect, let alone those who are foreigners and don’t know Lebanon has Maronites or any other major Christian sect to begin with.

Now that the non-Lebanese people have been taken out of the equation, this leaves us with those who hold the beloved and cherished citizenship. Of those, say 50% are Muslims and 50% are Christians. Now since we’d like to be optimistic, let us assume that our fellow Muslims would not do such a thing because it would break this example of coexistence.

Of the remaining 50% of Christians, no one would act except upon an act issued by their correspondent political leader. You have a bunch of irrelevant leaders who can’t get their followers to hurt a fly and then you have the big quartet.

Michel Aoun was probably still sleeping, long dreaming about him being Lebanon’s president, a dream that doesn’t seem to let him go. Add to that the fact that his supporters don’t know what a bomb is and you rule him out of the equation as well.

Sleiman Frangieh’s followers know very well what a bomb is. But Zahle is just too far away from his radar that you can’t make him a serious contender for the top prize. Add to it him being clueless most of the time and you definitely take his name off the list.

Amin Gemayel was still probably mourning his son. Or in the midst of the conversation that started on Friday evening. Either way, I don’t see him as someone who would issue the bombing as well.

Samir Geagea, however, *evil smile*, this man can definitely blow up a church. I mean, out of the whole bunch of politicians today, he is the only criminal, right? And he has blown up a church before. Granted, he was exonerated, but he did blow it up, no? His party is also made up of a bunch of high school dropouts who don’t know how to write their names, so naturally, they know how to handle bombs. Also, as a wise person from Bsharri would say: If Geagea thinks a church needs to be blown up, then the church needs to be blown up.

Meanwhile, the seven Estonians are still missing. Telecom minister Charbel Nahas is still in his cat-fight with Ogero CEO, Abdel Menhem, and the country is more prosperous than ever. Some Lebanese stupidheads took the headlines with their pro-Syria protests… why would anyone care about a silly Church getting blown up?

PS: In case you didn’t notice, let me hashtag it for you: #sarcasm.