Lebanon’s Cancerous Islamists & Other Religious Extremists Didn’t Win: Beirut Celebrates LGBT Pride Week

One step forward, a bunch of steps backwards thanks to cancerous religious extremists whose political reach is always overreaching; this is the story of modern Lebanon.

A few days after Crepaway’s left field ad which featured a same sex couple cuddling by the shore (link), Beirut was in full gear to celebrate its own version of Pride Week, as part of the Lebanese International Day Against Homophobia.

Multiple LGBT NGOs have scheduled multiple events throughout the week for the occasion, from storytelling nights featuring Mashrou’ Leila’s lead singer Hamed Sinno, to a conference on Saturday by HELEM about fighting homophobia, transphobia and biphobia in Lebanon.

Yesterday, however, Lebanon’s establishment dealt a setback to the organization Proud Lebanon which had planned an event this week as part of Beirut Pride Week. The reason was that a Lebanese Islamist organization – hay2at al 3oulama2 al muslimin – decided that such an event was in violation of their own fragile self and what they believe in, which led them to pressure the ministry of interior which prompted the hotel to cancel the event under the guise of them “not being able to keep the participants safe.”

It’s intriguing, isn’t it, that a conference about basic human rights in 2017 cannot be kept safe somehow by security officers. You’d think that they’d be capable of doing the most mundane of their jobs: assign a few officers to the hotel in question, in order to guarantee the well-being of Lebanese citizens who are expressing their constitutionally given right of freedom of expression, but no.

It’s not that they can’t guarantee the participants’ safety, it’s that they don’t want to. Our system is too afraid of irrelevant snowflake Islamists whose entire existence these days is about making sure nothing about this country moves forward in any way that threatens their power. Our system is too terrified of the advances that Lebanon’s LGBT community is making, be it in fighting homophobia to court victories to Lebanon further being the lead Arab country in such issues.

It should come as no surprise that those same Islamists wanted a Coca-Cola poster taken down in Tripoli because it was too “obscene” for their taste. Spoiler alert: it featured two people standing very close to each other. Those same Islamists also objected to a lingerie ad in Beirut under the guise of it being too close to a Mosque. That same ad had been approved previously by the same authorities that were forced to remove it.

The problem is that we have authorities that keep listening to such pests. When will this country stop listening to such cancerous infestations that are hell-bent in keeping everyone in their own dark ages? I guess we’ll never know.

However, those Islamists and other religious extremists who have terrorized the country with their horrendous thought don’t know that the years of struggle that Lebanon’s LGBT community has and is enduring has made them resilient to the hate and discrimination that infests their being.

As such, Beirut’s Pride Week is still underway, and if there’s anything to be proud of, it’s the fact that Beirut is the only Arab city to have such celebrations, in spite of Islamists and religious extremists, and in such an open way. L’Orient Le Jour published an article earlier saying that obscurantism had won. It may have prevented one event from taking place, but that hasn’t stopped the rest of what was planned from still being underway.

Lebanon’s extremists did not win. Their hate won’t win, and it sure as hell won’t find ground this year.

You can check out some of the events at this link. I will be updating this post if any other events are brought to my attention.

Tripoli’s Best Cafe: Ahwak Ben Tafesh Threatened By Extremists

Ahwak Ben Tafesh Tripoli - 1

I remember when I first went to Ahwak ben Tafesh in late 2012. I was reluctant to visit. I figured the place was definitely over-hyped. Why would I want to visit the go-to place of Tripoli’s liberal crowd?

How wrong was I?

I remember being captivated by the restroom. It was filled with graffiti, the most surprising of which was a sentence scribbled at the top right corner saying: “your lack of scientific knowledge is not proof that god exists.” Someone later on scribbled out the word god. I guess blasphemy is somewhat haram even on bathroom tiles. But these exchanges are all kind of peaceful and refreshing.

Ahwak Ben Tafesh Tripoli Lebanon

I’m not a coffee person so I don’t visit Ahwak for the beverages which are, based on my modest experience, quite good. What they serve, however, and I find exquisite is their carrot cake. It’s homemade and all kinds of awesome. Simply put, it got my carrot cake-hating brother to become a fan. Now isn’t that saying something?

Soon enough, Ahwak became a regular stop in my increasing Tripoli visits. During my latest stop, I was greeted by the main worker there enthusiastically, asking me about my extended absence. I had become a customer. This visit in question was this past Saturday, post Iftar in Tripoli. The place was packed. Some were discussing religion, it was Ramadan after all. Others were discussing politics, which is of vital importance in Tripoli, a city torn apart by the military ramifications of these politics.

Across the street from Ahwak, religious people were exiting the Mosque after the Ramadan Tarawih were done. The women were wearing long flowing robes as they walked by the cafe goers, returning home. The men huddled together, possibly talking about fasting. It was a peaceful scene. It was a beautiful time.

Ahwak Ben Tafesh Tripoli - 2

But that didn’t last.

On Sunday July 14th, around 11:30PM, the cafe goers at Ahwak were surprised to see a bearded man who had been released from jail a few days ago storm the place with a few of his henchmen. They sacked the place searching for the presumed alcohol that Ahwak served, which is non-existent. They were disappointed not to find any. But they didn’t stop there. Before leaving, after having terrorized every single person in that cafe, they told the employee that the adan from the mosque off the street will ring higher and higher to drown out the infidels in this cafe across the street.

The thugs then rode their vehicles away. They had done their damage. They will never be caught or questioned.

We can voice our support however we want to the owners of the cafe at hand. But what good does it make when it’s their business that’s in danger, when some ignorant dimwits might – at any given moment – stop the place from existing because it doesn’t fit with their retarded view of how Tripoli ought to be?

What good does it make to say that this too has passed when this might repeat in a worse fashion, at another cafe or store, at Tripoli or any other city in this country? What good does it do to milk a silver lining out of this when the people causing such mayhems are protected by even bigger thugs who might be MPs, ministers, prime ministers or has-been politicians wanting to reclaim their glory days?

Till when should the overwhelming majority of the people of Tripoli, which finds these people to be disgusting and repulsive, suffer and have their reputation suffer just because someone decided that personal liberties contradict with his view of the world?

This isn’t about alcohol. This isn’t about Sharia. I’m sure most of the people in Tripoli will rise against Sharia implementation in their city or this country before any of us blog, tweet, Facebook or do anything about it. However, what protects cafe places like Akwak which, in them being different, give a better view of their city – a nicer view? What protects the people whose only weapon is a few coffee beans and some divine cake when they face men whose weapons are presumably protected by some divine entities? Till when should the people of Tripoli worry about going for a coffee or grabbing a burger or doing anything just because someone out there with means finds it unacceptable?

Ahwak, I am one of your infidels. And I’ll see you soon.