Shame On LBCI and Lebanese Authorities For Cleaning Fadel Shaker’s Image

I don't usually use the acronym "LOL" but I feel it's entirely appropriate to the use of the word "قضية."

I don’t usually use the acronym “LOL” but I feel it’s entirely appropriate to the use of the word “قضية.”

Fadel Shaker is the Islamist who cried wolf.

It’s difficult to imagine Shaker as anything other than the bearded Islamist who did a 180 degrees flip from a blasphemous man living in the sin of his songs to one who suddenly saw the light and only wanted to sing to Allah, the one imprinted in our collective memory as Lebanon, who’s been present for only 3 years.

History goes back to 2012 when Shaker popped up in Downtown Beirut at a rally for Assir’s Islamists, harmless and fluffy as they were at the time. I remember how outraged people were at the time: what had he done? Why was he doing that to himself? I even did a meme (link).

Kiss Ahmad el Assir on the forehead he did, bringing Assir into the forefront of the Lebanese news cycle in the process. The rest is history. Flashforward 3 years later and Fadel Shaker is reborn. Do you think his middle name is now Jesus (Or Issa as he’d rather be known I’m sure)?

The beard is gone. The clothes have been replaced with a suit. The shabby looking man of 2012-2014 has suddenly reverted back to his state of pre-2012. How do we know all of this? Because Lebanon’s prime TV station, LBCI, secured a super exclusive interview with Fadel Shaker in which he tried to do the following:

  1. Claim his innocence,
  2. Claim his involvement with Al Assir was simple “sympathy,”
  3. Claim that his relationship with Assir was strained,
  4. Claim that it wasn’t him who killed Lebanese army soldiers,
  5. Essentially kiss Bahia Hariri’s behind, calling her their “big sister” and commanding her efforts into preventing further decompensation of the situation.

Rumors about him trying to secure a deal to get out of the Palestinian camp of Ain el Helwe have been swirling for months through negotiations via intermediaries with the Lebanese authorities to secure his safe passage in return of him leaving his Islamist present behind.

In July 2014, he gave an interview to Lebanon24 (link) in which he essentially said almost verbatim what he told the LBC reporter who strung a report that turned Fadel Shaker from the Islamist to a pop star ready to take the microphone and sing next to Yara (if that’s not haram, I wouldn’t know).

The details of Fadel Shaker’s deal, according to Al Akhbar (link), are as follows:

  • He’s been trying to sort his situation ever since he ended up in Ain El Helwe in 2013,
  • His situation became increasingly difficult as he ran out of cash and his wife controlled his assets,
  • His “difficult situation” forced him into compromises,
  • Through a concert contractor called Imad Qanso, Fadel Shaker got into contact with Walid Ben Talal as well as Layal Al Solh who became his intermediaries with the government,
  • Layla Al Solh managed to get Shaker a deal with the Lebanese army that requires him to 1) return to his basic form and stop the fiery speeches against the army, 2) hire a lawyer to help him in his upcoming “trial” and 3) publicly cut all ties with Al Assir,
  • He got a lawyer called May Alkhansa, close to Hezbollah, after promising her “he hadn’t spilled one drop of blood,”
  • LBC was agreed upon to be the TV station to handle his rebirth, through a pre-prepared interview.

And despite all of this, I don’t blame Fadel Shaker for saying what he did. I don’t even blame Layla Al Solh and Walid Ben Talal for trying to get him off the hook. The latter is Saudi, so what did you expect? And his aunt is nothing more than his voice box, sadly.

The entities to blame here are 1) LBCI who, in typical Lebanese fashion, put the exclusivity of a news scoop ahead of what that scoop means, although in LBCI’s defense no Lebanese TV station would have said no, and 2) Lebanese authorities who are actually going through with such a deal.

By doing that report, LBCI – with all its influence – became nothing more than a mailbox to months long negotiations taking place behind closed doors between Shaker and Lebanese authorities in order to seal the deal and make sure Fadel Shaker turns out unscathed.

That report, being a rehash of a 2014 interview and with Fadel Shaker being prepped for the questions for weeks now, shows that there’s no substance to the content and no attempt at confronting Shaker regarding the terrible things that he did. LBCI shouldn’t have let him use their station to pass his agenda unchallenged, and contemplate the potential of him filling stadiums with fans again.

On the other hand, Fadel Shaker possibly facing trial means nothing. How long did Bilal Deqmaq stay in prison? How long did any of the Islamists caught up with Al Assir stay in prison? Will a few days in prison be enough? No.

By going into these negotiations with a terrorist just because “he saw the light,” our army and whichever authorities involved are saying that the blood of our army members is useless, that calling them pigs is okay and that all can be forgiven if you’re important enough to get away with it. Typical Lebanon.

Shame on Lebanese authorities who are ready to ignore everything just to come about to some deal.

How dim-witted do they think we are not to remember what he has done?

This is him calling the Lebanese army pigs and bragging that his gang killed two and wounded four:

This is him declaring jihad in Syria:

This is what he said of Ahmad el Assir:

“But then there was the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, with four Hezbollah militants accused by the international prosecutors. In May 2008 Hezbollah militias attacked Sunni Muslims in Beirut. To crown it all, they support [Syria’s president] Bashar al-Assad. Sunnis feel frustrated and they have no one to protect them. The sheikh [Assir] speaks the truth.” (link).

This is what he said of Lebanon (and the world’s) Shiites:

“In Syria they kill our Sunni brothers and destroy our mosques. They are prepared to kill all the Sunnis, all the way to the Gulf. They’re infidels, not Muslims. It’s not true the Qur’an is their book. They’re liars, they say one thing and do another.” (link).

This is what he said of his 2012-2015 path:

“That wasn’t my true calling. Thanks to the almighty, I now lead a religious life. I’m at peace. But I have no regrets about the past. It’s my duty to combat oppression and defend people who share my faith.” (link).

This is him in various loving positions with Ahmad el Assir and other terrorists:

Fadel Shaker is a 46 year old man without any disabilities who took decisions of which he was whole-heartedly convinced. If this had been a non-famous person, he would’ve been convicted and thrown in jail. He may have not killed (no one can know) but that doesn’t make him any less of a criminal.

The king of romance is planning a comeback. It’s no longer his “duty to combat oppression and defend people who share his faith,” everyone else be damned. And Lebanon’s very own LBCI is spear-heading that comeback. Perhaps they are dying for another Elissa duet?

The fact of the matter is the only romance he should be singing is to his cell mates in Roumieh, bending over, calling them allah. But that’s not what LBCI or the Lebanese authorities want. In Lebanon, justice is served only to those who are weak enough not to challenge it.

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Why Rima Karaki Shutting Up The Islamist Hani Al Siba’i Is Super Important To Middle Eastern Women Rights

The video of Rima Karaki shutting up Hani Al-Siba’i couldn’t come at a more appropriate time for the region. Its rise in popularity happens to take place one day before International Women’s Day.

He is an Egyptian Islamist who is now residing in London after fleeing Egypt where he faces charges for the support of Islamists. He is BFF’s with Al Zarqawi and thinks Bin Laden is to be respected. He’s a pile or hypocrisy: someone who wants to implement the sharia’h… but lives in London. He’s a defense lawyer… but can’t handle an argument.

Out of all people that interviewed him over the times, Lebanese TV presenter Rima Karaki drew the thickest line. She wore a veil out of respect to his presence (even if through satellite from London), and he ended up demanding she shut up for trying to direct the conversation in a manner suitable for her TV show.

She did the opposite and cut him off right there on air, stopping him from spewing even more hate and disrespect to her and, indirectly, to Middle Eastern and Arab women everywhere.

Hani Al Siba’i is a representation of the sheikhs roaming our lands who think everyone should abide by the rules they have in mind, who think they have the right to shut up a woman just because she dared speak up and who have the audacity to not only request it, but shout it on platforms that always give them a megaphone.

In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did something that many women in the region are too afraid to do: stand up to a bully who happens to be protected by religious establishments and fear that allow him to thrive.

Rima Karaki - 1

When Al Siba’i tried to intimidate her, she stood her ground and still tried to take the harness of the interview away from his monologue.

Rima Karaki - 2

Instead, she told Al Siba’i something that probably no other woman he ever encountered has ever told him: she would be the one taking the decision.

Rima Karaki - 3

So because this was all too weird and foreign to him, Al Siba’i reverted to what he knows best and told Rima to shut up.

Rima Karaki - 6

So while trying to be respectful, Rima Karaki answered back. I’m sure he wasn’t used to getting that thrown in his face… ever.

Rima Karaki - 5

So naturally, he reverted to full blown sexism and disrespect to bring Rima down. She didn’t budge. She cut his mic off and then his feed.

In those 2 minutes, Rima Karaki did what every single person, let alone women, should do to people like Al Siba’i: cut them off. I couldn’t not find myself rooting for her. There’s nothing sweeter and more beautiful seeing a woman standing up to someone like him in that manner, someone who hates women and contributes every single day to their detriment.

If I were her, I would have thrown away the veil too, just as the Egyptian anchor did a couple of years ago (link).

Ironically, in those 2 minutes NewTV produced the best TV in their history. This is the full video:

On March 8th, 2015 this is the view across the Middle East and Arab world:

  • Women in Lebanon are not allowed to pass on their citizenship to their children. They are not protected by a decent law against domestic abuse.
  • Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to have authority over their own self; their male relatives do. They cannot go anywhere without male chaperones. They are not allowed to run for any government body that is allowed to legislate. They are not allowed to drive. They aren’t allowed to go out without wearing appropriate religious attire.
  • Women in Jordan are still the victims of rampant domestic violence and honor killings.
  • Women in the U.A.E. can face jail time if they are ever caught engaging in pre-marital sex, or drinking.
  • Women in Egypt are still the victims of female circumcision, a barbaric practice whose sole purpose is to decrease their sexual drive.
  • Women in Kuwait and Qatar cannot pass their citizenships to their children. They’ve also only recently, and very limitedly, started to try and become more engaged in the political life of their country.
  • Women in Iraq are being forced, in some parts of the country, to wear head scarves and traditional abayas to cover up. Their political presence only stems from the quota required to be filled by women according to law there.

We live in the region with the world’s highest gender gap.

Gender Gap World

And what is common between all those countries is that the value of women is always contingent upon the integrity of their hymen, their worth relative to the purity of their bodies, their purpose in life is to breed and procreate, but rarely produce, and never, ever, stand up to religious authority without facing repercussions.

Until today.

If there’s anything to empower Arab and Middle Eastern women this year around, it’s this. It’s standing up to those who contribute to those women not having rights, who bring them down every time they try to stand up to themselves, who think that “woman” is an insult, who think women should shut up when a man is speaking and who are given a religious cloak to make all their poison holy.