When Gebran Bassil’s Goons Don’t Understand Freedom of Speech

Breaking news: Gebran Bassil turned out to be yet another racist Lebanese politician. I have no idea how this piece of news was in any way a surprise, but over the past few days it’s almost the only thing people are talking about, apart from the fact that our phones now need Maps updates in order to skip the roads where garbage bags have started to take up lanes.

The details are as follows:

A few days ago, Gebran Bassil’s twitter account was quoting a speech he was giving in the United States to an audience of Lebanese expats ($10 says they’re voting for Trump in 49 days). In that speech, Bassil dropped the following:

The speech excerpts translate to:

  • I support giving Lebanese women who marry foreigners the right to pass on their nationality to their children but our constitution and societal fabrics don’t allow to give the Lebanese nationality to 400,000 Palestinians.
  • I support the law that allows Lebanese women to pass on their nationality to their children, with the exception of Syrians and Palestinians to maintain our land.

Of course, it has probably escaped Bassil in that moment that St. Maroun, after whom his sect was named, was Syrian and Jesus, after whom he prays, was Palestinian, but that’s besides the point. Certainly, however, Bassil wouldn’t have had a problem if those Syrians and Palestinians weren’t mostly Muslim. I wonder, how different would his statement have been had those refugees been mostly Christian like him? I can imagine him now, à la Oprah, distributing nationalities left and right: YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU AAAAAALL ARE LEBANESE!

Context to Bassil’s tweets, however, remains important. His statements do not come from void. They emanate from a public sentiment that has only managed to gain popularity over the past few years with around 2 million Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon. Of course, as is the case with Lebanon’s statistics, numbers do not exist. But it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that Bassil’s speech is not at odds with what the prevalent majority of Christians believes to be true, and a sizable portion of Lebanon’s Muslim community.

Yet again, the sentiment in the aforementioned denominations arise from their incessant need for self-sectarian preservation and are devoid from any national affinity towards a more global Lebanese state. Either way, I digress.

The uproar towards Bassil’s statements has been deafening. Human Rights Watch issued a statement whereby they found what he said to be abhorrent, in contradiction to the international treaties that Lebanon has signed in regards to women rights, and shameful to come from the minister of foreign affairs who is, whether we like it or not, the face of Lebanon to the world. Sorry #LiveLoveBeirut, you’re not it.

A slew of tweets and Facebook posts criticizing Bassil were also widely circulated, of which the satirical Facebook page Adeela led the forefront with a bunch of posts addressing Bassil’s tweets:

Lebanese blogger Mahmoud Ghazayel had a tweet (now deleted) in which he corrected Bassil’s statement to this:


So far so good, right? Except this didn’t remain as just a manifestation of Lebanese online degrees of freedom because before you knew it, the situation – thanks to massive reports by Bassil’s online henchmen – became as follows:

Every single post that criticized Bassil about his racist tweets was removed because of Facebook reports, while the social media platform never bothered to check for the background upon which those reports were being filed in the first place, or the statements being criticized to begin with.

As a result, if you try and say something negative about Bassil’s statements, thousands will end up putting you in Facebook jail for at least 24 hours because you somehow violated the terms of being on that website, by simply expressing an opinion.

Maybe it’s fear of  exposing how ridiculous Bassil’s proposition – even if echoed by many – is. Maybe it’s wanting to keep his image pristine in their eyes, albeit it being irrevocably damaged in the minds of many others. Maybe it’s them wanting to keep a semblance of pride.

What Bassil’s goons seem to fail to grasp is that with every post they manage to bring down, ten more will spring up in their place. As it is their right to believe and want to defend what Bassil said, it is the right of every other Lebanese who categorically and irrevocably disagrees to not only criticize but mock those statements until kingdom come, whether they like it or not.

As the stench of garbage and filth overtakes their nares in every cubic meter of air in Beirut, as they spend countless hours without electricity, as they pray for the heavens for internet to be fast enough to load the images in this post, as they debate whether to flush or not because water is scarce, let them have all of that pride and the politicians whose image they want to keep. Let them have their “holy” land, their “better-than-thou” attitude towards anyone and anything they deem lesser. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many Facebook reports are issued, common sense will prevail.

PS: Dear Facebook, re-assess yourself, why don’t you? 

#AnaTarablos: The Triumphant Video That’ll Make You Love Tripoli


If there’s anything that this blog has gotten people to think about me, it’s that I’m one of the staunchest advocates for Tripoli, one of my favorite Lebanese cities, and the capital of my mouhafazat. I know its streets all too well. I pride myself on being able to maneuver its shortcuts. I feel jubilant whenever I’m deep in conversation about it and can converse well in its history.

Tripoli also instills sadness in me when I see its current state, and the massive could-have-been that it is. I hope that future days are kinder on this city whose potential knows no bounds, which boasts some of Lebanon’s most impressive architectural and human feats, and whose imprint in our history as a country cannot be denied.

From its maarad, to its old souks, to its citadel, to the river running in its midst, to its restaurant, to its people. I’ve written about it many times. I’ve told you how awesome it is countless times. I’ve defended it against those who don’t understand its dynamics as many times. I’ve invited you to visit it as often as I can, and I still do, especially now that kinder weather is approaching.

Earlier today, a friend of mine linked me to a magnificent video about Tripoli that I felt I needed to share with all of you. It’s the kind of videos that I wish our government knew how to make – and they tried to before, but decided to exclude anything and everything Northern from it. It’s the kind of videos that can get any Lebanese, no matter where they come from, to be absorbed in the history of that city, learn in the space of a few minutes about its rich past, feel the same sadness that I feel at its present, and yet also feel triumphant at the fact that it’s still standing on its feet despite all.

Nader Moussally, the creator and director behind the “Ana Tarablos,” should be commended on conveying onto his society a sense of humanness that few before him have managed to do. Although I’m not from there, his “Ana Tarablos” video makes me feel the sense of pride and even hope that I know any person from Tripoli would feel watching it, believing the future in store for this city is better than the present it has been forced to deal with through systematic negligence from the part of successive governments that don’t care and its own politicians that see it as nothing more than conquests to be rationed.

I couldn’t write this post before talking to Nader to help him further convey his vision. Like many people from Tripoli, Nader took his own city for granted before he moved to Beirut for his studies. The longing he felt to his city, as well as the sadness that overtook him as he started to further notice how forcibly deprived it is, Nader, away from the politics that he knows is killing his city, decided to support his city in the way he knows best: a movie that conveys how he feels about his city: one that is more like a mother than a town, inspired from the conversations with his own mother, to make his sentiment towards his home relatable to every Lebanese.

The video is that in which Nader imagines Tripoli to be a person and this is the message he believes Tripoli the person would tell the country in which it exists and the people that constitute it. It’s the message of a lover, of a disappointed friend, of a city that has known what it is for times to change and leave you behind.

Nader wanted Tripoli’s story to be narrated by someone whose voice echoes the history and depth that Tripoli is. The only person that seemed like a perfect fit was Khitam Lahham whose sighs in the video will penetrate your soul.

The text is glorious, and jubilant and worthy of the city it portrays :

عمري اكتر من٤٠٠٠ سنة… عندي اكتر من ٤٠٠ الف ولد… ما بحياتي فرقت ولد عن ولد… فتحتلن كل بوابي، هديتن أجمل صيغة، المع نحاس، احسن صابون، اشهى حلو … غسلت قلبون بالحمام و عطرت روحن بزهر الليمون … خيطلن أجمل تياب بالخان زرعت العِلم فيّن و عملتلّن اغنى مكتبة…

و لخفف عنّن خلقتلن اكتر من 20 صالة سينما عملتلّن ساحة و منشية تصارت نبضات قلبن تدق ع ساعتها…هندستلن احلى بيوت… جمعتن بالقهوة عَ لقمة كعكة و عصير خرنوب و تركت الحكواتي يخبرن عني و عن تاريخي بأخبارو لي ما بتخلص… خليت نهر ابوعلي يِبَوردلن قلبن عالمايلتين…

و لانن موهوبين و مميزين قلت ليش ما بعملن معرض … و ايه عملتا … اكبر معرض بلبنان و بالشرق ربيتن عالمحبة بالجامع و الكنيسة. خفت عليّن، ولإحمين عملتلن قلعة و سميتا عَ اسمي . عطيتن كل شي …غنيتن بكل شي و عكتر ما غنيتن سموني أمّ الفقير. مابذكر عذبوني ولادي هنه و صغار

… بس عكبر …هه… خليني ساكته . يمكن من كتر همومن نسيوني، هملوني و تركوني تصرت خايفي ع حالي مننن… آه… بس معليه… انا مني زعلانة لاني انا هون … باقية هون أنا العلم … أنا المعرض… انا العِلم … انا الفن …انا الفيحاء… انا القلعة… انا ام الفقير …انا .طرابلس

The English translation:

I am over 4,000 years old. I have more than 400,000 children I have never preferred one over the other.

My doors I opened wide, and gave them only the best Fine jewelry and copper Fancy soaps Delicious sweets Hammams to cleanse their hearts, the fragrance of orange blossom to fill their souls, exquisitely woven attire, deep-rooted education, and the richest library.

For them, I built over 20 cinemas and theaters, a square and a great clock to whose chimes their hearts beat. Beautiful homes I gathered them in my coffee shops. Fed them cookies and carob juice.

There, the storyteller recounted my history and told his never-ending stories. My Abou Ali River ran on both sides, refreshing their hearts when they grew talented and unique, I exhibited their work. What an exhibition! The largest in Lebanon and the East!

Both my mosque and my church taught them to love. I feared for them so I built a fort to protect them and named it after myself. I gave them everything. I kept granting them riches until I was named “Mother of the Poor.”

When they were young, my children were always good. But when they grew older…  Ah Things got worse. Perhaps worries burdened them. They forgot me, neglected me, left me all alone. Now I’m afraid they might hurt me. But that’s okay I am not saddened. Because I’m still here, and here I’ll stay.

I am History. I am The Exhibition. I am Knowledge. I am Art. I am Al Fayhaa. I am The Fortress. I am the “Mother of the Poor.” I am Tripoli.

I leave you with the wonderful video:

Dear People of Facebook, Your “Be Like Bill” Stick Figure Memes Are Annoying, Not Funny

2015 was the year of Bitstrips.

2016 is the year of Facebook stickfigures.

Modern art is so minimalistic.

I wish we can have bitsrips back. At least those were visually appealing.

I have no idea who came up with this “Be like….” meme, but I’m getting super close to wishing they had never existed. I don’t know if it’s the case in other countries too, but the Lebanese populace of Facebook is not only milking the aforementioned meme, they’ve turned it into a monster haunting every single one of our timelines.

I’m now wishing I can see your selfies adorned with Nietzsche quotes again. At least those were actually funny.

So for those sharing those “Be Like You” memes, let me tell you the following:

  • No one cares you have a partner and don’t tell people about him or her.
  • No one cares that you can do a hundred push ups and don’t advertise it on social media.
  • No one cares that you’re single and happy about it.
  • No one cares that you’ve turned your life around and didn’t tell everyone.
  • The fact that you are making a meme out of it means you are propagating whatever fact you are proudly telling people you did not advertise.
  • No one wants to be like you (unless you have a billion dollars stashed somewhere).

So, stop the ridiculous memes. Stop sharing screenshots of them that pop up on our timelines even after we blocked the app making them. If you’re that bored, go read a book, go Instagram your meals, go watch some porn, or watch the only thing about Bill worth watching:

Uma Thurman Kill Bill

Kawalees Beirut: Lebanon’s Funniest Instagram Account

In such times, a laugh is needed every now and then and I hope the content of this post entertains you as much as it entertained me when I saw it.

Kawalees Beirut

New to the Lebanese internet scene is an Instagram account (link) and Facebook page (link) called Kawalees Beirut. Caline Kajouni, a friend of mine, and with the help of two of her friends: Taline and Patrick, decided to re-create many of the scenes we’re exposed to as Lebanese and put a twist to them.

What if, for instance, you could take a jab at all those Lebanese series where people are in makeup and cocktail dresses all the time even when they go to bed?

What if you could do to that friend who’s stealing your fries exactly what you had in mind as you saw their fingers slither on the table towards your plate?

What if you could do to that doctor who doesn’t listen and wants to compensate for all his years of not making money exactly what you thought of as they wrote you a panadol perscription?

The trio try to answer such questions of our lives and more in extremely funny and short videos that they’re posting on their pages.

My favorite is by far the one about normal Lebanese versus Lebanese in series waking up from sleep:

Normal people waking up VS Waking up in Lebanese TV series.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Another hilarious one is what happens when you step on a Birkenstock, which is admittedly much more painful than stepping on anything else:


Whoever said stepping on Lego is painful never stepped on a Birkenstock. Featuring @vkurumilian and @hrag10

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Or how to handle the latest heat-wave we got:

When there's a heat wave in Lebanon.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Or when you have a friend who never shuts up (guilty as charged):

That annoying friend that just keeps talking and talking.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Or when you don’t wanna give your car to the valet parking service:

That friend who always refuses to give the car to the valet.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Or when pesky Arabic tirashrash music wakes you up from your Sunday nap:

When you're trying to nap on a Sunday afternoon and this happens.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


Or when your friends are trying to converse at a bar:

Your reaction when someone's talking to you in a pub and you can't hear a thing.

A video posted by Kawalees Beirut (@kawaleesbeirut) on


There are many more videos where those came from. You can check out their Instagram page here and their Facebook page here. They’re already up to over 3500 followers between both pages so you know they’re up to something really good.

This is the kind of comedy that I think we need more of in this country: something not cliche, full of humor and with a sarcastic take on our daily lives. Lebanese comedians, take note: three people who have nothing to do with your field are giving you a few lessons.

Lebanese Priest Caught On Video Sexually Assaulting A Woman

Rima Karaki is on a roll. After making international headlines around the world for shutting up the Islamist Hani Al Siba’i, her show’s most recent episode is dropping a bombshell of an equal, but less international, caliber.

A priest has been filmed on camera sexually harassing and assaulting a woman, from showing her his penis, asking her to jack him off, to asking her if her vagina was tidy and tight. It’s utterly disgusting.

It starts with a meeting with the priest over some business matter. Eventually, the man starts to hit on the reporter (he doesn’t know she is one, obviously). After inquiring about her living arrangements, he invites her to stay at his local.

From there on out, he starts to talk about his libido.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 5

Suppose we want to sleep together.


In hypothetical scenarios of course. “Suppose we want to sleep together,” he tells her, before going on a tirade about his sexual prowess. Yes, he is 70 but he can still fuck like a stud. And he doesn’t take viagra!

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 8

I don’t do it more than twice a week. Even once sometimes.


He only sleeps around once or twice a week.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 7

It has to be completely secret. My social status cannot permit gossip.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 6

I’m a man and the woman I want should keep my position and dignity.


After all, he is a priest and his position in society demands high levels of privacy and secrecy. No gossip allowed when it comes to him, of course.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 9

I want your vagina to be tidy and clean. Is it tight or loose?


And of course, the highlight of the conversation is to know whether her vagina, or as he calls it “at’out,” is clean and nice and whether it is tight or not.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 1

I’ll pull it out and show it to you… take it…

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 2

Play with it… It’s soft.


And then there are the sexual advances, from flashing her his penis and asking her to jack him off and get it erect.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 13

– Show me… Take it off. – Take what off?


To asking her to flash him as well.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 10

– Get away from me. What do you want from me? – A kiss… and it’s enough.


To try and kiss her forcibly.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 12

– Isn’t this against religion? – Why are you afraid?


To not even caring when she brings up that what he’s doing is against the religion he should be preaching. When it comes to being horny, that holy cloak is dropped like the last piece of leaf covering up Venus’ crotch. Here’s a link for the full video:

The tragedy of the matter doesn’t stop here. While watching the video and feeling horrified at what that man was doing, the true horror was on the right side of the screen in the comments section as people, including women, tried to DEFEND what he was doing.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex - 1

This is disgusting and has nothing to do with Christianity. The question to ask is why are they targeting only Christian religious men?


There were those who clearly see this as an anti-Christian campaign. Why else would anyone want to discuss this ever? Because Rima Karaki didn’t, just last week, make global ridicule of an Islamist!

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -2

He’s a wise-ass and she’s a slut. Her voice is irresistible.


And there were those who blamed her for being a whore with an irresistible voice. How could any man resist?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -3

Since this TV station and its reporters are whores, doing this report clearly shows that the priest is innocent… Would they dare do this to non-Christian religious men? Or is it because they know our religion is that of peace and mercy they attack us? A day will come where you will fall to the hands of people who will make sure you forget what your profession is.


And there’s the one who thinks NewTV and its reporters (females) are whores, which clearly shows that the priest is innocent. And of course NewTV wouldn’t do this had the religious man not been Christian. I mean, can they even?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -4

They’re sending her to seduce him and then they’re glad they caught him… go home.


Support to the priest also comes from non-Christian Lebanese. When it comes to penises, men must stick together. How dare that woman try to seduce the priest?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -6

Good for him. She’s a slut.


Certainly the woman is to blame.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -7

Don’t you have anything other than religious men to talk about? Go see politicians and their actions. Disgusting media.


And it’s all clearly an LBC and NewTV led propaganda because there’s no way a priest can do this. The priest in question tried to defend his “honor” by accusing NewTV of fabricating the video and sending a woman to seduce him.

Not All Priests Are Bad… But This One Is Rotten:

Being born and raised Christian, going to a catholic school and being around churches all my life, I can attest to not all priests being bad. One bad priest does not ruin the whole. Some are men who actually follow the teachings of their religion and who try to help people to the best of their capacities.

This priest, however, is beyond rotten. What he’s doing cannot be defended. NewTV wouldn’t have sent an undercover reporter to his office hadn’t they known about his practices. They should have shown his face. They should have said his name.

How many women has he molested before? How many women has he sexually assaulted? How many women has he slept with? How many women thought they had no other options but to sleep with him? How many people has this priest terrorized through Sunday sermons into sexual repression, of fearing their bodies, for the sake of being chaste to God?

How disgusting is this man to think that “women seducing him” is an excuse to be such a revolting man whose vows of chastity were not only thrown out of the window, but burned at the altar of the Church he serves?

His Church should strip him of his cloak, and ban him from all his religious practices.

How horrifying is it to think that there are people in this country who think that just because someone is a priest or a religious man can absolve the horrible things that those people do? How scary is it that there are people, even now, who can fathom defending such a man just because of the way he prays and who think that TV stations have an ulterior motive other than to get people talking?

Do people really think that the Lebanese Church, whichever this priest belonged to, would have done anything about him even if they had known? The Vatican is barely doing anything about the pedophiles.

I’m sure this isn’t a one incident thing. There are probably plenty of priests and sheikhs in the country doing worse than this, to age groups that are even younger. Before you try and defend this scum or even agree with him that the station trapped him, think about all the people who have fallen victim to them and who don’t have a voice to defend them.

A priest does not a holy man make. Religion does not a good person make. Repeat after me.


New TV met with the priest for an interview that he requested. His name is Antoun Farah, currently the head of a Lebanese charity for the handicapped. Obviously, he claimed that the video is fabricated… but he refused to meet the woman whom he harassed. He was shown his face on the video without the blurs and he was still adamant that it wasn’t him.

How so, he was asked. I don’t know was his reply.

The fact that he’s not a priest practicing in a parish does not change anything in the way he should be dealt with. What’s scarier is that he was stopped from practicing in a Church due to a previous scandal that may have involved sexual harassment as well and still the Lebanese Church in charge of him did not think it would be best if he were stripped of his religious title.

Let me put it this way: if any priest is faced with anybody in front of them, naked to the skin and tempting them, it is their job not just to resist temptation but to cover those people up. Such a disgusting man.

Demonstrate For Peace, Live from Beirut, Online

Demonstrate for Peace Beirut

The next age of protests is upon us. A new initiative has made its way online today, called Demonstrate for Peace, which calls on an online gathering on September 21st in order to protest for peace. It will be the first of its kind. It is orchestrated by the United Nations.

You can join the movement by following this link. This demonstration, despite the website listing Martyr’s Square, will not take place in any physical locations in Lebanon but is simply Lebanon playing its part in International Peace Day.

I have to ask: what effect could such a rally truly have? Is an online protest as efficient as a real life one that requires people to go down to Martyr’s Square and ask for peace using their voices, not their keyboards? Or does the UN know that such protests may not be as effective or as enticing to people?

I’m not really sure what a protest such as Demonstrate For Peace could do, especially that real life protests – complete with bloody faces – in this country have failed to do much as a general rule of thumb. But I guess there’s no harm in logging in with any social account and expressing the simple and extremely important need to live in peace, especially in a country like ours. I assume we’ve all come to appreciate the beauty in the quietness of these past few days, which have been oddly calmer than their predecessors.

Demonstrate for Peace Beirut 2


Let’s hope that those who actually dictate peace log in as well?

USJ, NDU, LAU, AUB Crushes: When Lebanese Students Have Free Time

You know all those memes and jokes about your crush not knowing you exist? Well, some Lebanese students decided to put an end to it all by creating a sort of gossip hub where they gather people’s infatuations and broadcast them anonymously for their entire campus to see.

This “gossip hub” has taken the form of several Facebook pages for most of Lebanon’s major universities: USJ, NDU, LAU and AUB. Despite launching only yesterday, the USJ page has so far near 1000 likes. The other universities haven’t caught on the crushes fever yet.

I find the idea to be smart: it gives those who have a crush on other people the courage that comes with anonymity to declare their feelings. It serves as an interesting addition to campus life that Lebanese universities have yet to see and, most importantly I guess, it just sounds like so much fun: the interaction that I saw on the corresponding Facebook pages because of it is proof enough for that.

The process is simple. You submit info about your crush anonymously to the page: they don’t know who you are and you can even make any info about your crush as ambiguous as possible. In turn, the page admins post the info on the Facebook page. People are guessing almost immediately who the person is and tagging them. The tricky part is for that person to know who got that post to be published on Facebook in the first place.

USJ Crushes Facebook

Some students have a crush on their professors:

AUB Crushes Facebook

Very smooth Elie, very smooth.

I commend the students behind these pages for the very clever idea. Don’t be surprised if you get contacted by several high profile entities regarding your pages quite soon. It’ll only be a matter of time.

Some more examples from the USJ page, which is by far the most interesting:

USJ Crushes Facebook 2 USJ Crushes Facebook 3

As for everyone else, if you feel like you absolutely must tell your crush that you are crushing on them – anonymously of course – here are the necessary links for you:

Hopefully students finding each other will lead to some form of much needed release in this country. I’m tired of recommending tranquilizing pills to the huge amount of people always on edge I’m encountering lately.

Update: Was just informed that, as I suspected, the idea is taken from universities abroad where the Facebook page in question has the format: Spotted: [X] University

Update 2: University of Balamand (UOB) and USEK have their own pages now: