Farsi Is A Required Language At Some Lebanese Schools, More Important Than French & English

Khosh Amadid Lebanon Farsi Iran Hezbollah

You gotta give it to us Lebanese, we sure are languages aficionados. Of course, most of us are not born as such but are spoon-fed three languages over the course of a thirteen year education system before we head out to higher education centers. But, as the saying goes, throw us in any country around the world and we’ll land standing.

Add Iran to one of those countries.

Some schools in Beirut’s Southern Suburb are now teaching Farsi, Iran’s main language, as curriculum requirement. Students would then get to choose between French and English as their third language, according to the previously linked source, because – as we all know – French and English have no commonplace in today’s world, being imperialistic languages and all.

The schools in question are all private schools and as such can teach whatever language they want, according to Lebanese law. Public schools, on the other hand, have not had the same curriculum change.

I get that political ties exist between the country where Farsi reigns supreme and the people running the schools that have adopted such curriculums. I get that those political ties are crucial for the well-being of the parties running those schools. I get that those parties sure love Iran, their culture and believe it should be imported over here – but at the expense of the educational well-being of all students attending those schools?

How does it make sense to teach students a language spoken only in one country, a language that doesn’t have any international reach whatsoever? What benefits does teaching Farsi bring to the students who will be forced to learn it? I can only think of them understanding that Farsi MBC channel. How does it make sense to give such a language importance over others than can simply make or break a person in today’s world? Teaching Farsi doesn’t count as “resistance.”

If those schools are so hell-bent on teaching Farsi, let them make it as the third optional language for their students instead of the other more crucial languages they relegated to that level. That way, they’d fulfill the apparent needs of their political ties by giving that culture more importance and still preserving the fundamental right of those students to get the best education that they can get. Our economy and their upcoming jobs are not contingent upon Iran.

Would I have had the same reaction had some schools opted for teaching German, Italian or Spanish as a required second language? Probably not, because this isn’t against Iran and their culture as much as it is keeping intact that last good thing that we  – as Lebanese – have: our global competitiveness. Those languages can help it. Farsi does not.

Khosh amadid to you.

Argo – Movie Review

Argo, based on a real story, is set in 1979 Iran, after the Islamic revolution at the heart of the American hostage crisis of the Carter era. 6 Americans were able to escape the confines of the embassy as it was overtaken, seeking shelter with the Canadian ambassador who harbors them as they wait inside the four walls of his house for salvation and for a rescue that never seems to come.

69 days after the American embassy in Iran events, Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck), a CIA agent, is called in to a secret meeting to discuss possible rescue scenarios for those 6 Americans who are at the most immediate danger with them being as exposed as they are. Mendez comes up with the ingenious idea of orchestrating a fake movie, with the help of John Chambers (John Goodman), a Hollywood make-up artist, who brings a producer to the team in order to get the plan going. And Argo is set in motion.

One of the most intense thrillers you will watch, Argo keeps you glued to your seat for the entirety of its two hour run. The intermingling of historical footage with the movie’s lead-in scenes immediately draw you in. The movie has a dark tone throughout, one that doesn’t let down – even with the many comic moments that are there to lighten the mood in stark contrast to the overall grim setting of the time during which the events take place.

Ben Affleck delivers his best movie yet as a director and with a list of movies that have all been well-done, his talent as a filmmaker is beginning to surpass that of him as an actor even though he also delivers a decent performance here. The comic relief I mentioned earlier is provided by good old John Goodman and Alan Arkin as a couple of movie-makers who are quirky and fun. The trio, Affleck included, also deliver subtle criticism at a movie industry which chases blockbuster flicks and leaves those which advance the art of filmmaking behind.

Argo brings life to a Tehran ravaged by the revolution of the 1970s. It showcases the morbid atmosphere, the oppression and the desperation present everywhere in Iran at the time. It gets your feelings regarding the country, whether positive or negative, to the surface. It doesn’t shy away from historical accuracy, even if it involves showcasing American shortcomings. It doesn’t shy away from showing all the help that America’s neighbors to the North provided, proving insurmountable to the rescue efforts. And as one of its final scenes, involving an airport, sets in, you are so taken in you can barely breathe. You feel for the characters on screen. You may already know the resolution but you can’t not be afraid for them. And if you’re not, then the only thing I have to say to you is: Argo!@#$ yourself.


Lebanon’s Freedom of Speech & Iran’s Lack Thereof

This picture has rubbed the Iranian embassy in Lebanon the wrong way. Apparently, it’s an insult to all Muslims because it’s portraying Ali Khamenei, the Supreme leader of Iran, in a negative way. They also believe that the caricature is in violation of Lebanese law.

It seems the Iranian lack of freedom of speech has seeped into their embassies as well because they fail to understand that just because Khamenei is “holy” to them and possibly a limited number of Lebanese, the rest of the world and of Lebanon absolutely couldn’t care less.

What the Iranian embassy seems to also fail to grasp is that religious figures are not off limits for caricature in Lebanon. How many times has the Maronite Patriach been portrayed as such? How many times has the Sunni Mufti been portrayed in caricatures? How many times has Hassan Nasrallah been drawn in newspapers?

The answer is way too many times for me to even want to research it.

Lebanese newspapers do not approach prophets in their drawings because of journalistic principles. Is Khamenei a prophet? Is he Holier than the prophet Mohammad to have the Iranian embassy panic over him being drawn in a caricature?

The bottom line is: Iran, you have your country and you think things are great over there just the way they are. But keep your insecure paws off of one of the few things keeping me clinging to mine. You are in Lebanon as a diplomatic presence and you’re respected to that extent but it is not in your job description to become a censorship bureau.

God knows we already have too many red lines we can’t cross. We don’t need your red lines added to ours as well.

The True Cause of Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is not a normal storm. It is not a byproduct of weather conditions that sometimes end up creating such huge storms. No, hurricane Sandy, currently pummeling NYC, is a manufactured storm. Or at least some people think it is.

This is a screenshot from the Syrian Army News Facebook page.


“There are sources confirming that Hurricane Sandy which is hitting America was made by very advanced equipment owned by the heroic Iranian regime, with coordination with our resilient regime. The sources have also confirmed that there are Syrian experts who contributed to this. This is the punishment of those who threaten Assad’s Syria and its security.”

You know what’s even funnier? That there are actually some people out there buying it. This is another screenshot that was sent to me by a friend (because the current state of the post has over 900 comments):

Iran’s nuclear program must be a decoy. Who knew their core research is in weather control?




The Different Classes of Lebanese Prisoners in Syria

First Class:

13 pilgrims were kidnapped in the Syrian city of Aleppo today. These pilgrims are all Shiite and were taken by rebels as their bus passed through the city on their way back from Iran.

As a result, Hezbollah-supporters are now burning tires and closing the roads. Hassan Nasrallah is now having a speech to calm his people down. It’s obviously working. His level of control is unparalleled. Talks are already underway to release the 13 men.

Prediction: they will be out in a few days, max.

The Less-Than-Dogs Class:

Every other Lebanese prisoner present in Syrian prisons or still missing because of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon. Their parents have been protesting for the past 5 years non-stop, asking for any news about their sons and daughters. They’ve been hearing nothing. The parents of these men and women don’t want their children to return alive anymore; they just want any news about their children for the sake of a thirty-years stretched out closure. Even that is too much to ask for.

What’s the “fault” of these men and women? They are Christian or not part of the pro-Syrian assembly of the other sects.

The conclusion:

It is here that I have to ask: is burning tires, closing roads and threatening civil war the only way to get to something you want in Lebanon? Is turning the country into a more savage jungle the only path towards forcing others to meet your demands?

After the past few days, I’m beginning to think so.

It is here that I ask Christians in the country: In a country of savagery, is our civility the best option for self-preservation and to make our voices heard?

How much more double-facing can the other sects in Lebanon take until they crack as well?

Iran To Execute Youcef Nadarkhani, a Pastor, For Converting to Christianity

This is Youcef Nadarkhani

Youcef Nadarkhani is a 34 year old man who converted to Christianity at age 19. He came under the Iranian government’s radar in 2006 when he applied for his church to be recognized by the Iranian government.

Three years later, he went to local officials to complain about the indoctrination of Islam at his children’s local school, saying that his children should not be forced to learn about Islam. He was subsequently faced with a court order to renounce his Christian faith, which he refused to do. He is now facing the death penalty, being put on death row.

The Christian pastor faced charges of “apostasy” and “evangelizing muslims.” The widespread condemnation has led  the Iranian court to accuse the pastor of committing rape and other crimes as well. As of today, he is still alive.

For reference, Iran is one of the signatories of the Human Rights charter, as well as various United Nations agreements, which guarantee religious freedom. The US congress has also unanimously approved of a resolution to condem the sentencing.

The Iranian government is known to carry on execution sentences at random times. Nadarkhani’s sentencing can be carried out immediately or dragged on for years. His supporters fear his case might be used by the Iranian government as leverage against the sanctions imposed on the country.

Youcef Nadarkhani with his family

I honestly cannot fathom how some governments can rationalize decisions like this in the 21st century. Not only is the Iranian government violating every single human rights agreement it has signed, it’s also doing so flagrantly. How can a government sign an agreement to ensure religious freedom and then kill those who do not follow the religion enforced by the state?  How can the judges of said Iranian court remain sane with them fabricating charges for a man whose only “fault” was to change religions?

Even Nadarkhani’s wife was arrested and found guilty before she appealed the decision and got released two weeks later. Her arrest was seen by many as a pressure on her husband to renounce his faith.

Religious minorities in Iran, such as Christians, Jews, Bahais, etc… face social marginalization, persecution and political isolation. The Iranian government, however, saves its hardest punishment to those who “abandon” Islam. It even has fatwas that demand the death of apostates.

Iran’s secretive judicial system leaves the international community questioning Nadarkhani’s fate. But the international pressure being put on Iran by various governments and organizations is paying off. Pastor Nadrakhani would have been executed already if his case hadn’t caused outrage.

It looks like world is still concerned with religious freedom, as is evident by people from various political fields (conservatives and liberals), countries and religious views (Atheism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity) coming together to help Youcef Nadarkhani. So what can we do? We can help by spreading the word. The more people know about Nadrakhani’s case, the harder it will be for such oppressive governments to let it slide. It is high time we stand up for our basic liberties, such as our freedom to choose whatever religion we want to follow. When it comes to one’s relationship with God (or any other entity), the government should have no say – let alone punishing a person for not having the relationship it deems appropriate.


PS: For the Lebanese reading this who will accuse me of being one-sided, the same applies to the Saudi government’s oppressive view towards religions (and other basic liberties) too.


Batroun’s Bal3a Dam: The Iranian Interference

This is Bal3a

Bal3a is a region in the mountainous village of Tannourine, in the east of the Batroun caza, North Lebanon’s first district. Home for its famous sinkhole, Bal3a is also the source for the “Joz” river, Batroun’s main water source.

A very ambitious project has been in the works for Bal’a for a few years now. The plans for a dam, to be built on the Joz River, have been in motion. This dam would increase the water resources for the whole Batroun caza by drastic amounts.

To build this dam, bids were submitted to the government back in June. Moawwad and Eddeh Contracting Company won the contract to build the dam, with a total amount of $32 million. For reference, this is the same company that built the Shabrouh Dam in Keserwein. However, this company was surprised a few weeks ago with a decree issued by the government, via the ministry of energy, to accept an Iranian donation of $40 million with one stipulation: an Iranian company was to build the dam, a project that would take four years.

The Lebanese company has filed an official complaint with the ministry of energy, managed by nonother than son-in-law prodigy Gebran Bassil. As if the electricity crisis was not enough for Bassil. The company still hasn’t gotten a reply as to what exactly happened.

But let’s contemplate this. The project will take four years. If everything goes as “planned” for Bassil & co, the Iranians will be roaming the Batroun mountains freely, under the umbrella of a security network, which will be provided by Iran’s allies in Lebanon: Hezbollah. Who knows what they’ll do other than build the dam.

If this Iranian company ends up beginning the constructions, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard would have gained a stronghold in one of North Lebanon’s main mountains. And with Tannourine’s geographical contact with the Beqaa, a known Hezbollah stronghold, along with its proximity to other Mount Lebanon mountains where Hezbollah has already set foot, the possibilities become endless.

Let alone the fact that the Lebanese government has apparently preferred to hire an Iranian company over a Lebanese one, I have no idea how Gebran Bassil can let his own region be defiled in such a way and consider it simple “contracting” with the government. How can Gebran Bassil think he has a viable chance at getting elected in 2013 when he’s letting the people who killed Tannourine’s own Samer Hanna into his home?

And just a final question so I don’t let this drag on. Why, as a Batrouni, do I have to bear with someone I did not choose to represent me?