Seven Sisters Beirut Bans Veiled Woman From Entering Because International Football Players Were There

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Pic via Daily Star.

It’s perfectly legal for any private institution in the country to pick the clientele it wants to admit, that’s a given. But that doesn’t mean that some practices should go by unchallenged or even accepted just because they are legal, such as Iris banning men under the age of 24 but allowing women, because who knows why?

The Seven Sisters Bar and Grill in Beirut reportedly barred entry (link) for a couple with a veiled woman despite being told, before coming to the place, that they would be allowed to sit at the bar if they arrived between certain hours, which the couple had done.

While trying to negotiate their way into the place, the couple was surprised to see many unveiled women enter without even having their names checked on a reservation list. A recording, according to the Daily Star, saw the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment say: “We’re not allowing anyone with hijab tonight because it’s a special night.”

Find a link to the recording here

The special night they were referring to was a football-themed gathering whereby international football players who were coming to Lebanon for a charity game against Lebanese players were meeting fans for photographs and autographs, among other things.

It seems the Seven Sisters Beirut establishment didn’t want those football players from being exposed to any culture that they probably deem “not fit” for the reputation they want to perpetuate about the country. You know, the reputation where everything everyone does in Lebanon is party and drink and enjoy this joie de vivre everyone believes is what makes Lebanese special.

Guess again.

This kind of discriminatory behavior is appalling  and, quite honestly, will stop people like me – the non-veiled clientele that you want to bring into your establishment – from ever stepping foot there again. You should be ashamed of wanting to hide away essential and predominant figures of Lebanese society in order to paint a fake image for a football player who couldn’t remotely care.

But isn’t this how we do business in this country? We perpetuate fake-ness and masquerade it as authenticity in the belief that the “Western” way is the way to go, essentially annihilating everything about this country that makes it  unique, starting with banning veiled Lebanese women entry to certain restaurants just because “they don’t fit.”

It doesn’t matter if the place served alcohol or pork or any other food that Muslims tend to avoid. The fact that that couple was there willingly meant they were okay with being exposed to whatever it is Seven Sisters offered, and were doing so whole-heartedly. This kind of behavior from the Seven Sisters establishment only serves to further widen the divide between the Lebanon they want to convey and the Lebanon that actually is, one veiled woman being stopped at the door at a time.

So on the night when Luis Figo, Michel Salgado, Carlos Puyol and Roberto Carlos were being pampered left and right by a bar and grill in the heart of Beirut, some Lebanese who may have wanted to see them were falling victims to Islamophobia and prejudice in the heart of a country where Islam is not an anomaly.

Shame on Seven Sister Beirut’s establishment for such derogatory measures. The sad part is they probably couldn’t care less.

The hardships facing veiled women in this country are not only exclusive to being banned from entering certain restaurants. It’s perpetuated to work opportunities whereby some companies would outright refuse applicants just because they’re veiled, to various other aspects of daily Lebanese life that many of us take for granted, which is unfortunate as well as surprising in a country where being veiled isn’t exactly rare. Being non-veiled is beginning to be turned into a privilege. With each passing day, the spectrum of freedom allowed to Lebanese is shrinking.

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To Burkini Or Not To Burkini: The Ages Of Men Deciding What Women Should Wear

When it comes to cultural assimilation, many parts of Europe have not been exemplary in the way they’ve dealt with the many minorities that have sought their land as refuge over the years, but none more so than France, whose problem with people who are lesser-white than the average they’re used to goes back to the time where it occupied much of Northern Africa and contributed to a mass exodus of people from those areas to serve as cheap labor for their home country.

The immigrants that flocked to France challenged the French about what it was to be as such: what is the French identity? What makes France as it is? How do we integrate such diversity into what we already know and take as scripture? Needless to say, the French model failed miserably.

Instead of integrating the laborers in French societies, they were settled along metropolitan areas with other destitute French, close enough to work but far enough from being part of actual French society, further widening the divide between “authentic” French and otherwise. Social programs, a hallmark of the French political system, also contributed to further encourage the differences between both population groups, further making the grounds for discrimination more fertile.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that in the France of today, and similarly to the African American situation in the United States, French jails have a much higher population of North African-origin inmates than of any other population, relative to their proportion of the general French populace.

As the French general public failed to grasp the fundamental problem at hand, the political rhetoric started to mirror the growing dismay from those immigrants. From having the French symbol “La Marianne” in a veil on the cover of Le Figaro, to tell people that France would become Muslim in 30 years, to people like Jean Marie Le Pen painting those immigrants as violent, uncontrollable, and who breed like rabbits.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that in 2004, the French state decided to ban the public use of the veil, much to the outcry of many Islamic and human rights group who saw the move as a gross encroachment on the rights of those women. The argument back then was that France, being a secular state, did not tolerate any signs of religiosity. The underlying tone, however, was that this secular state with an Christian undercurrent would not tolerate an apparent Islamization in its PR.

The rift between “immigrants” – French like everyone else but always viewed as lessers – and French continued to grow through the years, between attacks on Charlie Hebdo, to the terrorist attacks that overtook Paris and Nice, to the increasing rise of the Front National. Today, the clash of culture is taking place in a different way: French statesmen want to ban a conservative swimwear colloquially called the “Burkini” – a term merging both Burka and Bikini – in their attempt to preserve the semblance of the “liberated” image of France.

Introduced in Australia by a Muslim woman who tried to merge her religious and Australian lives, the piece of clothing soon became global. With the French bans, many people are purchasing them around the world in solidarity. The outcry against the French ban is deafening. The question of the matter, however, is why would such a ban be conceived in the first place?

This is a continuation of the French problem in trying to assimilate different parts of what makes France as it is into a modern identity that is holistic and inclusive. The French revolution slogan “equality, liberty, brotherhood” seems to only be applicable as long as you fit within the code of such a statement.

The ban is equal part Islamophobic and an attack on a woman’s freedom of expression. Would French police arrest a nun, for instance, who is wearing her religious clothing on a beach just because she is covered up? Would they arrest a swimmer clad in their sport clothes? Would they arrest any woman whose clothes attire conflicts with what they deem acceptable enough to fit within the narrowing, rather than broadening, confines of French culture of 2016?

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The ban of the Burkini can be summarized as follows: men trying to impose a dress code on women who have already had a dress code enforced on them by men elsewhere who view their chastity as directly proportional to how much skin they cover up, never knowing that maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t in the skin that is exposed or not, but rather in the minds that look at that skin in the first place.

Before Arabs and Muslims can be upset about France banning Burkinis, ins’t some introspection into what is happening in our own backyards warranted? How many of our cultures and countries coerce our women into covering every inch of them, whether they want to or not? How many of our cultures and countries treat women as second rate citizens just because they were not born men, limiting them with what those who were born men believe those women should be entitled for? How many of our cultures and countries have made women feel insecure just by walking down the streets with eyes that ravaged their bodies regardless of how covered up they were?

How many of our cultures and countries have stopped women from even going to the beach for fear of being viewed as nothing more than meat? How many of our cultures and countries have made wearing the hijab, and consequently items of clothing such as the burkini, as an indication of the woman wearing them – whether she wants to or not – essentially being a better person than the woman who decided not to? The fact of the matter is that women are more prone to be sexually harassed on our beaches, whether they were wearing a Burkini or a bikini, than in the beaches of France, even if they’re wearing nothing.

Tackling the abhorrent rise of Islamophobia in France cannot therefore occur without looking inside our own homes for once. Do we allow our women to wear whatever they want without conferring moral judgement on them for doing so? Do we give our women the freedoms that we believe they are being robbed of in France or elsewhere? Do we not pass judgement on those women who decide to go to the beach wearing a Bikini just because they felt like it, categorizing them as everything we believe women should not be?
The answer is no.

The resources France is putting into banning the Burkini are completely unnecessary. It’s a legislation that has become a farce: that of armed police officers assaulting decent women at the beach to strip them of their clothes. By coercing them out of a Burkini, the French state is doing to those women something that’s as bad as forcing them into one in the first place. It’s unfortunate that while standing as such a crossroads, France and the rest of Europe decide to make a U-turn rather than advance further into creating an environment where women can be free to choose whether they want to wear a Burkini or not. Instead, you have a bunch of men deciding they know, once more, what women want and what they should do. When ISIS tells Muslims they’re nothing but second class citizens in the West, one wonders, when does the West realize that its practices play right into ISIS’ hand?

American Xenophobic Racist Murders Lebanese Man Because He’s “Filthy Lebanese Ay-rab”

Dear American media, I’ve fixed the news title for you. I mean, why not call things the way they are, instead of beating around the bush of trying to lighten the news in proportionality to the skin color of those making them?

I know it’s hard to think of someone whose genes gave him less melanin as somehow possible of being evil. I shudder at the thought as well. But it might happen – unlikely as you think it could be.

No, Vernon Majors did not kill Khalid Jabara because he had an “unusual fixation” with his Lebanese neighbors. He killed them because he was a xenophobic racist terrorist murderer.

If the tables were turned and Khalid had been the person to whom all those criteria apply, you wouldn’t have hesitated to apply them. You’d have even decided what his entire background was judging by his name, the color of his skin, and the country where he came from.

That’s not different from what Vernon Majors did. It’s not “unusual fixation,” it’s him making sure Khalid’s family knew they were: ‘dirty Arabs,’ ‘filthy Lebanese,’ ‘Aye-rabs,’ and ‘Mooslems,’ as he told them repeatedly to make sure they knew their place in his world. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but the Jabara family is Christian.

The story goes back to last year when Vernon Majors willingly ran over Khalid Jabara’s mother trying to kill her. Unfortunately for him, she did not die, and he ended up in jail, but like the good white American that he is, Vernon Majors saw himself out of jail a few weeks ago, back to the same streets, neighboring the Jabara family, and wanting to take out his revenge on them.

Picture this: a man who willingly ran over a woman trying to kill her ends up in jail for one year, with no conditions on his bond — no ankle monitor, no drug/alcohol testing. It was as if he never entered.

The Jabara family learned of his release. They also knew he had a gun. They also notified the police who informed them they couldn’t do anything, because second amendment and all. Minutes after the police left, Khalid went outside of his house to get the mail, and he was fatally shot by Vernon Majors, who has since been apprehended.

All of this was an “unusual fixation” at his Lebanese neighbors, according to the Tulsa police department, a fixation that goes back to him complaining to that same police department that they were “Ay-rabs, and Mooslems and filthy Lebanese.”

I wonder, how many racial and xenophobic and Islamphobic slurs does a white man have to do to in the United States to cross from “unusual fixation” territory into being a downright disgusting space-occuping lesion of a creature who also hated black people and other foreigners?

If the tables were turned and Khalid had been the person to whom all those criteria apply, this wouldn’t have been someone with an “unusual fixation.” The limits of “unusual fixations” stop when someone’s skin ends up in a different shade of blonde, and when their name maybe just maybe indicates them not praying inside a Church.

Khalid’s sister, Victoria wrote the following Facebook post, and the only way their story made it to the media in the first place:

I ask that you share this FB post throughout the community for the murder of my brother, Khalid Jabara so you can be outraged, just as we are outraged. I want to shed light and bring awareness to the negligence that occurred from the first moment the neighbor..this monster.. called our family ‘Dirty Arabs’, to the time he ran over my mother with his car, to the two Protective Order violations,and our constant vigilance to communicate and be proactive with the DA’s, to the fact that they let him out of jail after 8 months, to the fact that my brother called the police to explain to them that we were scared because we heard he had a gun, to the fact that the police left, saying they could do nothing, and, 30 minutes later….the fact that the criminal walked up to my brother and shot him on his front porch.

At the end of the day, my beautiful brother had a heart like no other. Sensitive to the core, he loved others so much and wanted to be loved back. I’ll miss his jokes (I stole all my jokes from him!), his love for all things electronic, his love for my mom and dad, Rami, and his tenderness towards his nieces. This angel will be missed. Love you, Khalid.

This is the vermin Majors:

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How many more of “filthy Lebanese” is the diaspora supposed to handle? This is the tip of the iceberg. How many more hate crimes are Arab Americans, be it Muslim or not, supposed to withstand before someone – anyone – realizes that this is just not right, that this is exactly how you push people away, that this is how minorities get radicalized?

This is nothing but a specimen of Donald Trump’s America. So dear Lebanese Americans, this is what you get when you help perpetuate the mere idea of an entity like Donald Trump. There’s no beating around the bush here: his message of xenophobia, hate, racism, Islamophobia includes you too, whether you like it or not, whether you think you’re at a whole level of immigrants or not, you will always remain just another immigrant group that people like him, and those that think like him, can do without.

You will be people they can dispose of, call filthy and end up as nothing more than people with “unusual fixations.”

 

Victims, Not Threats: The Massacred In Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Yemen Are Not Terrorists For Hateful Rhetoric

Meet Adel Al-Jaf. He also calls himself Adel Euro, so you might know him by that. He was a rapper, a dancer and a man who tried to do the best that he could with what he had in his country. Last year, Adel said he was lucky enough to narrowly escape an explosion in Baghdad so he could dance again. This time, Adel was not as lucky.

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He is one of the 200 people in Iraq who, instead of buying Eid gifts these days as Eid el Fitr comes tomorrow, are buying coffins for their loved ones.

In the blink of an eye, an explosives-ridden van detonated itself through a busy shopping mall in Baghdad. Two hundred families, as a result, lay shattered, maimed, beyond repair, beyond the ability to heal.

It’s become way too easy to dismiss the deaths of those two hundred innocent people as just another thing that happens in *those* parts of the world, in a country (like Iraq) where suicide bombs are an every day occurrence.

But it’s not. And even if it is, the normalization of their tragedy makes the brutality of reality even more horrific. These were people, just like a regular American or European – because we all know your worth is higher the whiter your skin is – who could have been going to the Mall to buy their children and loved ones Christmas gifts.

And yet today, the Eiffel tower didn’t light up to remember them as it did yesterday to commemorate France’s victory in a football game. Even Burj el Arab, which remembered the victims of Brussels and Paris, while failing to remember the massacred of Beirut and Istanbul, couldn’t care less about the brutality of what took place less than 2 hours away. I guess keeping up with the westernized value of human lives is more befit of the image Dubai wants to give itself, so who are we to judge?

Today, those two hundred people that were brutally massacred as they went about their daily lives in Iraq are considered terrorists to be by many. The forty that died in Beirut almost 8 months ago are also considered as such. The hundreds of thousands that died and are dying in Syria are nothing but pests who have, thankfully, not encroached on the holiness of Western values, and so are the people of Yemen.

Good riddance, Donald Trump and his supporters would say. They had it coming, the far right across the world would point its finger and blurt out. And to those people, at the wake of my region being burned once again partly because of the repercussions of the actions of their people, I can’t but say: the only terrorist is you.

Sarah Sadaka, an Arab living in the United States, was going to a Best Buy store today. She went into that store speaking on her phone in Arabic, only to be circled by a woman who made it clear that her presence, her skin, her language made her uncomfortable. No one came to Sarah’s defense: she was just another sand nigger, breathing that free American air on the fourth of July. She did not deserve to have her right as a human being not to be violated that way taken away, she is, after all, only Arab.

Sarah, today, is the living embodiment of what it is to be the victim of terrorism in the United States, except this time it’s the brand championed by the likes of Donald Trump and the people with whom his rhetoric resonates.

When Omar Mateen went to a gay night club in Orlando and killed fifty people, mainstream American media only saw his name Omar as enough reason to justify his actions. He was just another Muslim. He was just another Middle Eastern offended by “our” way of life. Except Omar Mateen did not do so in the name of Islam, he did it in the name of his own insecurities, the insecurities of a man who is afraid of his own sexuality and who is so deluded in his own belief that he’d support two politically opposed factions in Hezbollah and ISIS as vindications for his action.

Omar Mateen’s characterization, and the repercussions that follow it, are a direct result of the kind of terrorism that Arabs and Muslims have to endure at the hands of people like Donald Trump, the Far Right across the world, and the minds that listen to them.

My mother tongue has become synonymous in people’s minds with death. If I speak it on a plane, I become an automatic threat, forced to undergo security checks, apprehended by officials because the words I utter from lips only resonate with fear, even if it’s to say: peace be upon you.

Victims, not threats. The more we are silent towards our murder, our decimation, and our characterization as people who do not deserve to live, the more we perpetuate the notion that people who think of Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners and those that live in the area are worth nothing is true. The more we are subdued in not demanding our deaths be remembered, be proclaimed, be cared for, the more our inherent value slips even further, even less than it already is, down an abyss in which the least valuable lives on this planet are Arab lives.

I should not be living in a world where I need to convince a friend of mine not to name his son Abdul Rahman because the name is “too Muslim.” I should not be living in a world where I have to defend myself at my own funeral. I should not be living in a world where the deaths of two hundred Iraqis is considered as just another bleb on the evening news, as they are just a waste of space.

We are people too, and we are worthy of life, one in which two hundred of us do not die at a mall buying new clothes for their children. We are victims, not threats.

 

 

Sectarianism & Islamophobia: Jounieh Wants To Become The “Christian Capital” of Lebanon


On the slope of how low some electoral programs can sink to try and attract votes, the FPM-backed “Karamet Jounieh” takes the cake.

You’ve probably seen their billboards all over the highway. From their super lame: Weina Jounieh? To them revealing it was “MasJounieh” before launching into a full blown attack about how they would bring back Jounieh’s dignity.

Now, 2 days before Jounieh votes, they went full force into the attack by proclaiming they would make Jounieh the “capital of Middle Eastern Christians.”

Out of a 9 point platform tackling various aspects of the city’s life, making it the capital of Christians in Lebanon was their #1 priority with it being the top point on their list.

How would they accomplish so? By building a multitude of Churches and religious centers for Near-East Christians to feel closer to each other so that if “Copts in Egypt are affected, we feel it in Lebanon as well.”

Because, you know, the hundreds of thousands of Muslims dying across the Middle East don’t deserve us “feeling it as well” because they don’t pray that way, or that we, as Lebanese, are supposed to “feel” with the Christian in South Sudan before we feel with our fellow Lebanese in Bab el Tebbaneh, simply because that Lebanese is not Christian.

Let us make Jounieh the capital of Christians. While we’re at it, why don’t we make Beirut or Tripoli the capital of Sunnis? Why don’t we make Tyr the capital of Shiites as well? I mean, why not? If Christians are supposed to have their own city, then why shouldn’t other sects too? Why doesn’t Keserwen then just secede into the Democratic Republic of Maronistan with Harissa in the center of its flag and be done with it?

This kind of xenophobic and horrific rhetoric has no place in elections aiming for LOCAL development in 2016. “Karamet Jounieh” claims that them wanting their city to become the capital for Christians is to face the persecution affecting Christians in the Middle East and to further solidify the importance of Jounieh with its strong Christian history.

For a moment there, I thought Daesh was at the footsteps of Maameltein and that Jesus did not come out of Nazareth but of Haret Sakher and Maronites did not get persecuted in the mountains of North Lebanon, but in the streets of Sarba.

In the face of such disgusting slogans, I invite this blog’s followers who vote in Jounieh to refuse such hateful, xenophobic notions and to vote for the list opposing “Karamet Jounieh” on Sunday, which is the list calling itself “Jounieh El Tajaddod.”

At a time when Christians in Beirut refused to be treated with the hateful, segregating rhetoric that Karamet Jounieh is giving its people in Jounieh by voting for Beirut Madinati, the last thing we need in this country is for such divisive talk to be center stage in any elections. Less fear and hate, more tolerance.

Kill All The Muslims

My sympathy goes to all the victims of yesterday’s Boston Marathon bombing and to all the people who died cross the world in various other bombings in Iraq, Syria, etc… yesterday as well.

I could go on and on about how such acts are those of cowardice but what good would my words do to a country struck by tragedy and to the grieving parents of the people that died yesterday?

However, is it acceptable for the mantra “innocent until proven guilty” to become “an Arab Muslim until proven otherwise” when it comes to any terrorist act taking place anywhere in the world?

Case in point: the following tweets from an American pundit. Do you want to kill all the Muslims too?

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Is this even allowed in the case when the bomber turns out to be, in fact, an Arab Muslim?

He later on said that this was “sarcasm.” Though I think his “sarcasm” got lost with bashing the “Islam apologetics.”

Islamophobia and Racism in an American Movie Theatre

Fresh off the news of a New Yorker throwing a brown-skinned man in front of a train for thinking he was Muslim (click here), the following tweets were brought to my attention of Americans who decided to go and watch Kathryn Bigelow’s new craptastic movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”

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Not only is that excuse of movie Zero Dark Thirty grossly inaccurate, nauseatingly stereotypical and a disgustingly shameful propaganda (click here), but it seems to be resonating with its intended audience by rousing up their Islamophobia and racism.

This is not an isolated incidence in the United States. The growing sense in American culture that Islam is all a bunch of jihadists who can’t wait to blow themselves up is unacceptable. And American media not only propagates that feeling, it helps fuel it.

How is it legal to have a whole ethnicity and religion categorized as such in these times and age?

You know something about those filthy Arabs and Muslims? They are sure taking all this crap in strides when they’re the most hated group on the planet.

Some people need to be ashamed of themselves.

Thank you @IsmailSakalaki for sending the tweets my way.