Moussa el Sader is Dead. Officially?


For years, supporters of Shiite imam Moussa el Sader had hoped he’d still be alive more than thirty three years after he went missing in Libya on August 31st, 1978.
Al Akhbar is reporting today that documents received by Lebanese government from Libya confirm that Moussa el Sader had died at the beginning of the previous decade due to diabetes complications.

In more details, the imam was taken to the Abou Slim prison in 1997 where he was put in solitary confinement. He started experiencing ailments because of his diabetes but his guards refused to give him treatment. As a result, the imam died soon after.

Al Qaddafi refused to have him buried. So he turned his cell into a fridge, akin to the one used in morgues, and guards were set up for the cell for more than a decade – until the recent Libyan revolution started.
On August 22nd, 2011 when Tripoli fell to the rebels, the Abou Slim prison was heavily bombarded. Moussa el Sader’s cell was destroyed as a result of the bombing and his body was subsequently taken out, along with the other dead people.
Some had reported seeing a man’s body with a cloak and turban being taken out of the premises.

Current efforts to search for the body are underway. The most plausible of scenarios is that the bodies taken out of the Abou Slim prison were buried at known locations due to their rapid decomposition. These sites will be soon excavated to maybe find the body of the imam and return it to Lebanon.

Moussa el Sader founded the political movement “Amal.” He was known for his calls for interfaith dialogue and his constant championing for co-existence among all Lebanese factions.
It’s sad to see his ideology so distorted by the current form of the political movement he started.

Many of us were more than certain the imam was dead. But it is only natural for people to seek closure. Hopefully the certainty of his death brings that to those who need it.

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The Nakba

Gebran Khalil Gebran wrote in “The Prophet”:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Imagine this quote being applied to something more concrete than a human soul… imagine this quote being applied to your land.

Your land is not your land. It does not belong to you.

There is nothing harder than having no home – only a transient house, or even a tent, where you sleep the night, worrying what the following day brings.

Some people have been worrying about that issue precisely – where to sleep – for more than sixty years. I am not appealing to any political reason, only humanitarian common sense. There’s a people who has had their land swept away from beneath their feet on the premise that this land does not belong to them, whose homes got ripped to shreds because they were built on a land that was not “theirs” and who are in limbo just because they were the victims of wrong place, wrong time circumstances.

The Palestinian people, and I do not mean its political figures (because those are as rubbish as garbage goes), are a collection of human beings whose lives have been torn apart by years of them being in the middle of a conflict they chose not to be part of.

I shall not go into the history of how they lost their land. After all, the history is well known (Balfour promise, etc…). But the sad thing is how this people is portrayed today: a collection of terrorists voting terrorists to fight those who are good, aka, Israelis.

Sure, the Palestinians have had their share of mistakes. They sought out a country where a country was already built and they have constantly failed to get themselves represented in the best possible way. Arafat? Abbas? Seriously?

But there’s more to the conflict than what ABC, CBS and Fox share with their viewers. There are people who are the victims of massacres against them on daily basis, whose children are used as bullet pillows and whose souls are being hammered with missiles. I firmly believe the holocaust has happened. Whether the number of Jews who died is ten million or one million, it doesn’t mean they were not ruthlessly exterminated at one point. But you’d think going through that ordeal would deter you from wanting to inflict it on another people. Not true, obviously.

I do not advocate equaling the holocaust with what’s happening in Palestine today. But I feel the human life has become of so little value in some areas of the world, it’s sickening.

However, the Arab Nakba (which translates as catastrophe) does not stop with Palestine. Arab countries are infested with dictators who kill their people ruthlessly without caring and who limit freedom, in spite of protests demanding for their basic right to speak.

The Arab Spring, which is also the name analysts have called the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, is slowly turned into another Nakba. Why? Sectarian clashes in Egypt against the Coptic population, just for them wanting to remain Christian in their country. Copts face daily discrimination, having to ask state permission to build churches and must indicate their religious affiliation on their ID cards.  Their schools were nationalized by the government in the 1950’s and over the last several decades they have witnessed terrible massacres. This past weekend witnessed two churches being burned and several dead. And yet, people in the Arab world have turned a blind eye on them and their suffering mean while constantly bemoaning about discrimination against Arabs. Not to mention what has happened to Assyrians and Chaldeans in Iraq, half of whom have fled for their own safety. And no it was not American troops who drove them out.

Add to that rioting in Tunisia that is knowing no end. The Libyan revolution dying a painful and agonizing death amidst an international silence that knows no limit. A Syrian revolution attempt that is the victim of people simply not caring anymore and a Yemeni revolution that’s the victim of them being so geographically distant that they have become also distant from attention.

It doesn’t help as well that the population in the Gulf suddenly got preoccupied with watching Star Academy and counting their oil millions again.

Yes, the Arab Nakba doesn’t stop with Palestine, although they are the bigger victims in it. It’s the story of a whole region of the world that allows itself to be degraded with time by incompetent rulers, indulgent people and hypocrisy without limit. The next time you protest against Israel ask yourself. Do I believe in equality in my own home? Have I treated one of my own citizens differently based on ethnicity or sect? Are people in my own state suffering because they are religiously or ethnically different? Next time you march or protest ask yourself these questions.

And quoting Gebran Khalil Gebran again,

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.
[…]
Pity the nation divided into into fragments,
each fragment deeming itself a nation.
PS: Thanks to Paul Gadalla for his input in this post.

The Libyan Situation: Morally Baffling…



It is without understatement that I can say Colonel Gaddafi is a monster. That is as clear and true as the sun shining every morning in countries where the climate allows that.

He is a man who has been ruling his country with an iron fist for over forty years and he doesn’t look satisfied yet. He has done almost every single thing imaginable to stay in office, except eradicating the whole population of his country. Don’t worry, he is hell-bent on doing so as well. Just today, more than forty people were killed in a Libyan city, including children, while trying to stand in the way of armed forces opening fire on innocent people.

Even more so, Colonel Gaddafi set fire to the Libyan oil fields. If he can’t have them, why should anyone else, right?

Apparently no one.

After weeks of him murdering his people, it looks like NATO forces and Western countries “finally” took notice. I mean, they kept turning their blind eye on the dictatorships in the region. Why so? well, those dictatorships were providing them with oil and they were keeping their parts of a burning region at “peace”. What more could those countries ask?

But now Gaddafi was burning those oil fields. And oil prices had begun skyrocketing again. What were the NATO forces and armies of other Western countries (notably the US) supposed to do?

Oh yes, they intervene militarily. What’s the premise of this intervention? “humanitarian” reasons.

And here goes our moral dilemma… Gaddafi or NATO forces intervening in his country?

Sure Gaddafi does not have an reason to burn the oil fields. They are not his. They are his country’s riches. He also does not have any right to even order any of his armed forces to lay a hand on any of his people. But to say Gaddafi is sane is as credible as saying the Earth is the center of the universe. The man is a mad case. But that also does not even remotely justify what he’s been doing, which can be categorized as a genocide.

On the other hand, what gives foreign forces the right to barge into Libya and start bombarding the country left and right? They’re only there to secure their economical advantages with the oil, so to say they are there for “humanitarian” reasons is a big lie to anyone with common sense.

And there is it… our moral puzzle. Who is at more fault? the man single-handedly destroying his country? or the foreign armed forces trying to take the country by force?

 

A Middle Eastern Revolution Overdose?

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria… and now people wanting to overthrow the system in Lebanon. I find myself wondering if it’s getting way out hand – if people are suddenly beginning to take advantage of this surge in regional adrenaline.

Do we really need to march down and demonstrate to overthrow the system in Lebanon? Is it really the best option we’ve got?

We are the only country in the region that actually has a democracy that functions – regardless of whether you think it functions properly or not, we can still vote, get our voices heard and be able to do marches like the one planned today. Sure, we have many shortcomings but I believe they dwarf in comparison to what the people of Egypt, Tunisia had to go through to get where we were in the 1940s, let alone what the people of Libya are going through as we speak.

To change the system in Lebanon, I don’t believe you need a revolution. I think you need common sense, one that is easily blinded when excitement surges among the people. Look at it this way: say the planned “revolution” succeeds and a secular state is enforced, do you honestly think that will happen without changing the basic foundation upon which the state is built? And by that I mean democracy. Do you really think shoving down secularism down people’s throats would get you further?

The people of Lebanon are not secular people because that is not how they were brought up. To move towards a secular state, you need to have a secular mind – one that is only present in a handful of people currently. And I don’t think the current political atmosphere in the country warrants further upheaval.

The best way, in my opinion, to have a peaceful and logical transition into a secular state is via a major overhaul of the education system. You cannot keep on teaching the same things being taught dealing with the way the country is run and still believe a secular state is plausible. People need to be taught on embracing the different other in a more hands-on approach, people need to be exposed more to the other’s religion and we need to at least have a version of our history that does not stop when the French Army vacated its barracks in 1946. By having an education system that invites people to become more aware of the different other, perhaps we can start moving our minds towards becoming truly secular and understanding that if I, a Maronite, do not have the presidency written for my sect, that’s okay. Or if you, a Shiite, don’t necessarily get the speaker of parliament, that’s okay as well. Same thing applies for the Sunnis and all the other sects.

Moving towards a secular Lebanon is a very hard thing to accomplish. The movement towards that should be transitory and not blunt. It should be accepted and not forced. Therefore, uniting Lebanon starts by letting the people of Lebanon share their ideas and come to common grounds with those ideas. Uniting Lebanon does not come by having one idea forced upon everyone. That would be basically a dictatorship.

On a final note, I invite people not to fall into the misconception that atheism is synonymic to secularism. It has become a common belief among many in Lebanon that the two are inherently related. That is far from the case. I also hope that we appreciate what we’ve got in our country and not take it for granted. We are still the only democracy in the region and it’ll take the countries that have had recent revolutions years to get to where we are today – regardless of what you might think lacks in our democracy. Is a revolution an answer? I don’t think so. Do we need to move towards a secular state? I believe it’s a necessity. How? Let’s just say, don’t get carried away by political excitement.

The “Democracy” of a Libyan Mercenary

Even as they buried their dead, there was absolutely no mercy for the people of Libya.

Colonel Gaddafi defines democracy as a combination of two Arabic words: Demo and Cracy. The meaning ultimately becoming: to stay on chairs. This man has been the Libyan president for forty years and it doesn’t look like he’s satisfied. He’s killing his people left and right, solidifying the notion of an iron-fist rule.

The brutality of the Libyan Revolution is the worst one yet. More people have died in the events that started unfolding one week ago than all of the Egyptian casualties in their two weeks revolution. Gaddafi is hiring mercenaries to gun down his own people, which makes it harder for them to get the voices across. The mercenaries simply don’t care about the point of the protests. They want to get paid, a rumored £18,000 sum.

And to make things worse, it looks like the media has simply lost interest after the Egyptian revolution succeeded. It seems as if Libya is simply the lesser country out of all the ones currently trying to get change going and therefore, we’re getting the least coverage of events from there. We hear that about 200 people gunned down in one day, more than 1000 wounded, descriptions of massacres… but for all we know, it could be even worse.

I will not go into the politics of it. I do not understand Libyan politics and I do not intend to say I do. In the matters of what is going on today, the way you view things is very, very simple. What is happening in Libya today is unacceptable on a basic human level. But what really hurts is that some higher-order governments simply don’t care. They side with the Libyan government, ultimately not caring about the lives being lost, to conserve their economic advantages, represented by the oil reserves Libya has.

Gaddafi wants to fight to the last bullet to stay in office. His son warned of “rivers of blood” if the protests continue. I cannot really come up with the words to describe how big of an abomination this statement is, except that the people of Libya are courageous. How many of us would go to the streets knowing that there’s a high chance we might die? They know they could die but they still protest against a brutal creature who is not a man, for man has a conscience and a man with a conscience cannot do these things.

Courage is the ultimate virtue. It is the ability to go into a battlefield to stand up for your beliefs knowing that you might not come out alive. It’s standing up for what you believe in in spite of fear. And the people of Libya do that. In what I believe is becoming a revolution overdose in the Middle East, I am, today, the most compassionate with the events going on in Libya. So today, I invite everyone to let the word out that they need whatever help they can get.

There is not much we can do individually, but I believe our collective effort can bring forth great things. I am not inviting you to become activist, but taking stands is what life is all about. And Libya needs you to take a stand – with it – today.

Gaddafi, therefore, becomes not only lesser than a man, lesser than a creature. He is a mercenary like the ones he his hiring. A mercenary who is not worthy of his country, not worthy of the concept of democracy and I believe 68 years of life are more than enough for a man like him.