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Michel Aoun tripped and fell. It’s the Arab League Summit – however useless that might be. Lebanon is participating with a president for the first time since 2013, and while walking to the podium, Lebanese president Michel Aoun sustains a fall. Bring out the guillotines.
It all takes 3 seconds. He’s pictured to be okay afterwards. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. In any decent country, and regardless where people fall on the political spectrum, their president falling like that would at least elicit some kind of empathy.
Not in Lebanon.
Michel Aoun falling is now an indication of his health status. I’m sad to inform you it’s not. Anyone can trip and fall. It’s now the go-to joke. I’m sad to inform you it’s not a joke. It is now the easiest video to send on WhatsApp groups with our lousy internet to get your friends replying with as much “HAHA” as you can get out of them. I’m sad to inform you it’s not funny.
There’s nothing cute about an elderly 80 year old man tripping and falling. It’s not for your enjoyment, and it sure as hell is not something to humor you. His political past has nothing to do with this. I do not agree with almost anything he says or does (or said or did), but he is still an old man who fell and that is not even acceptably funny.
In my first year of specialty in Internal Medicine last year, I dealt with countless elderly patients who went through falls such as this. The consequences could have been, and are usually, disastrous: from fractures to concussions to extended hospital stays. I’m glad that president Aoun is okay after this.
Medicine aside, imagine had this happened to any of you – regardless of your age. I’m sure your first reflex would be to care more about your phone, but such falls are painful and, when coupled with people around you laughing their asses off, humiliating.
Imagine this happening to your grandparents. Would you propagate their fall coupled with all the “LOLs” you can type out? I sure hope you don’t.
You can not agree with Michel Aoun politically. That’s what makes this country (seemingly) a democracy. You can bash the hell out of his stances about freedom of speech, electoral laws, anything you disagree with for that matter. But when it comes to ridiculing him as an old man who happened to sustain a fall, then I’m afraid to tell you that is never okay.
Ladies and gentlemen, those are the people that represent us, the ones we voted for, the ones who then stopped us from voting for them again because we all know that’s what will happen anyway as you only need to look at the orange streets of Lebanon to see how engrained things are.
127 Lebanese MPs, a near full quorum, gathered for the first time since they were elected to vote Michel Aoun as the president of the Lebanese Republic, after 45 failed attempts to vote for a president, stretched over two and a half years of stalemate.
Attending the election process were ambassadors and dignitaries from all around the world who were invited to be there. I bet most of those attending were just there to watch our parliament and the people who are our face to the world show everyone exactly how ridiculous they are, and how abysmally pitiful this country they’re representing has become.
The first round starts. Yes, parliament is equipped with electronic voting but who needs technology anyway? It’s pen and paper. The vote count is underway. One vote is for Myriam Klink, another is for Gilbert Zwein. Those two votes rob Michel Aoun the opportunity to gloat in winning the presidential vote from the first round. Of course, this was intentional.
But let’s take a moment to let the idea that our MPs believe casting ballots for women is a joke.
To note, parliament has 4 women members out of 128.
To continue the humiliation of Aoun to the presidency, some other MP figured it would be a good idea for them to drop two ballots inside the voting box instead of one.
If in naivety one would think the first time was a mistake, leading the second round to be canceled in order to go to a third one, the same thing then happened again. Childish? Silly? You name it.
Cue in the ruckus. How is it that a parliament is failing so irrevocably at doing the only thing it’s been meant to do for the past two years?
Hear an MP here shout for ballots in different colors. Hear an MP there demand for a voting booth because that’s what will fix things. Hear them all be so disorganized, so all over the place, so loud and unaware of what they are doing they you might as well have been observing a kindergarten agglomeration of toddlers, and even that would be slightly more civil.
To say that in voting for a president Lebanon’s parliament has shown exactly how inept it is at running the country is an understatement.
Those are the same people entrusted to agree on an electoral law in the next few months, and they couldn’t even vote for an unopposed candidate that nearly 2/3 of them supported. A process that should have taken 30 minutes ended up taking 2 hours plus, and then you hear them nag about how the process is taking longer than you thought.
I didn’t think I’d see the day when even voting for a president that the country hasn’t had for two years would turn into a joke, but it did.
The sad part is that this maskhara doesn’t even matter. A few months from now, we will vote for parliament and most of those 127 faces whose names we had to hear repeated at us 4 times because they were so efficient will be back in those same seats, and it’s just so unfortunate. They make alliances however it suits them personally, not how it suits the country best. They attend sessions whenever they’re free not every single time because that’s what they were voted to do. They play with our future like a yo-yo and then make a fool out of themselves and the country they’re representing in doing so. And they’re always above reproach.
Until then, congrats to Michel Aoun. Here’s hoping he ends up being a better president than his political track record has shown him to be.
I’m counting my blessings about 20,000 times a day that when Lebanon *finally* gets a president I won’t be there to see it. It’s sad in a way, that after two and half years of void I wouldn’t be there for the happy ending. But then again, who’d wanna be there for this happy ending?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Michel Aoun will be a bad president. All presidents are useless and he won’t be any different, as the past two president-less years have shown us. But oh my god can you imagine the gloat of Aounists over the next twenty three years?
So here I am, seven time zones away, and still worried about the ripple that that will cause and I’ve come up with the best way to deal with the inevitable happening on Monday.
1) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Facebook:
If your Facebook friends are as enthusiastic as mine, they’d have already started posting countdowns, pictures, glorious Facebook status about all the glory that’s going to come to the country on Monday. And if you’re anything like me, you’d definitely have a pack of motilium or some even stronger zofran sitting next to your laptop at all times because nausea.
Of course, it’s going to get worse from here until Monday which is just two days away. So here’s a tip:
If you have <5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of this move, just unfollow them and practice EXTREME vigilance because they tend to find a way to have their stories pop up on your timeline anyway.
If you have >5 friends on Facebook who are supportive of Aoun becoming president, delete Facebook off your phone, take your precious phone away, put it in a box, bury it in a pint of trab l arz yalli aghla men l dehab, set up food in a bunker and huddle there until 2022.
2) What To Do With Your Aounist Friends on Twitter:
While there’s an unwritten rule among Facebook users that one would not post countless statuses per day, and as such Facebook has slightly more restraint, the same does not exist on Twitter. As such, there are no guidelines for how to best handle your Aounist friends on Twitter except deactivating your account until 2022.
With their lord and savior Michel Aoun becoming president, it’s also best to forget that there is an orangy TV station by the name of OTV ever existing. As Mawtoura aptly noted, their programming for the next 6 years will consist of the following:
Calls to congratulate Aoun on the presidency,
Documentaries about the great Samir Geagea, etc…
It’s best to avoid this, or have xanax present at all times as well.
4) Forget About Anghami:
Here’s a scoop for you: Nancy Ajram and Assi Hallani have teamed up to do a song for Michel Aoun already. It’s not because they’re Aounists but because when anyone becomes president, everyone else just dies at the opportunity to start licking their ass. #LiveLoveLebanon.
Of course Nancy and Assi will probably not end up being the only two people who have songs out for Aoun. Expect Elissa to have a song out a certain point too, because that’s how things work. And there’s just so much of Michel Aoun being rhymed with “kon” that you can take.
5) Brace Yourself For The Onslaught Of Positive People:
Some people may not be Aounists but as it is in Lebanon, there is an overly positive populace that keeps on seeing the best in everything and I just don’t know how. Well, those people are bound to get slightly more annoying now as they are given one extra reason to be falsely optimistic about things in the country.
The earliest symptom of this will be a wider onslaught of #LiveLove across the globe.
6) What To Do With Your LF friends:
They probably don’t know what to do with themselves so it’s best to ignore their existence for now pending further development. Many of them aren’t happy though, so just pass them some of the xanax from point #4?
7) Hezbollah *shivers*:
While Hezbollah spent the last two years trying NOT to get Aoun elected, expect them to make sure everyone and their mother and their grandmother and their deceased original ancestor to know they’ve done *everything* they can to make sure the outcome on Monday took place.
It’s bullshit, certainly, but people are going to buy it anyway.
The criteria for Hezbollah fans on your social media platforms is much more stringent though. Just bury your phone and go live in a monastery in Qadisha already. There is no other way.
8) Avoid Driving:
I expect Lebanese roads are now flooded with billboards, posters, banners and mannequins celebrating the rise of Aoun. Even those that didn’t like him now do.
I expect those posters and banners to contain some of the most poetic Arabic written since Al-Mutannabi. A few Bible verses will be thrown in there as well because, why the hell not? Isn’t this the second coming of Jesus?
So if I were you, I’d just stay home until the first decent rain comes around and rips those things right off.
9) Almaza will have an ad:
They always do. This is not gonna be any different, and they’re beginning to get annoying but this will annoy you the most, so move to Colonel Beer. #ElieRecommends.
10) Prepare To Explain To The World That We’re Voting For An 80 Year Old As President:
I was literally asked yesterday who’s gonna be president. When I said Michel Aoun, the person asking me was surprised and asked: Isn’t he old?
And the fact of the matter is he is. When John McCain was running for president in 2008, he was 72 and his age had lots of people worried. We are now getting a president who’s as old as John McCain is today. Isn’t that exciting?
So what’s the best way to handle people who want to criticize our country for voting geriatrics this time around? You can: a) tell them to suck it, b) tell them enno yo2berne mshabshab, c) tell them l mouhem l so77a, d) Michel Aoun does not age, age Michel Aouns.
Bonus: Bref, sigh:
In the grand scheme of things, the worst thing to come of Aoun’s presidency won’t be him as president. It’s how annoying his supporters will be until the end of his term. There will be no major changes to the country. Hariri will be PM. They will tailor an electoral law to help them win. Frangieh and Geagea will be presidents the next two cycles. The political situation will not find a magical solution that suddenly sees our garbage off the streets and the country off to the right direction. This is just a perpetuation of the current status quo, with the people who made the status as such and well, who the hell cares anyway?
In a widely predicted move, LF leader Samir Geagea and FPM leader Michel Aoun came out with a political understanding yesterday that saw the former supporting the latter for Lebanon’s presidency, after about 33 failed attempts at electing a president and 30 years of the same practiced politics.
Lebanon’s Christian field was predominantly supportive. After all, the whole burying the hatchet fest that we saw on TV was done because Christianity, and Christians sure love seeing #TeamJesus in all its glory on Lebanese TV.
We can now say that on January 18th, 2016, after around 30 years of feud, Samir Geagea and Michel Aoun finally saw eye to eye in something. A more zealous response would be: LET THEM KNOW NOW THAT CHRISTIANS WILL NEVER BE PUT ASIDE AGAIN, etc. But that’s not really the case.
It’s good to see a semblance of unity occur regardless of what that unity might mean. It’s good to see Geagea and Aoun talk things out.
Many think that this move was visionary. The fact of the matter is it’s nothing other than reactionary to Saad Hariri nominating Sleiman Frangieh for president a few weeks ago. The only disturbance in the presidential race, protracted and dull as it was, was Saad Hariri’s deal back in November-December. That disturbance became the catalyst behind both the FPM and the LF’s deal today in order to “reclaim” their constitution-given Christian right.
How good can a move made in reaction and spite be, rather than it being foreseeing and contemplative, especially in the grand picture of Lebanese politics that not only requires foresight to navigate its murky waters? Why don’t you refer to Jumblat for that?
What this move does is not elevate the level of politics that Geagea and Aoun are practicing. It’s not a good thing that Lebanon’s Christian community is now practicing the same kind of tribal politics that the country’s other factions do. By “uniting,” Geagea and Aoun moved from their failed politics on a national level to failed politics on a sectarian level.
Yes, they were Christian leaders first and foremost, many of their policies had inter-sectarian tendencies. How will they move from here? Not in that way, clearly.
The move also comes to the backdrop of a 10 point agreement that the two forged over the past 6 months. It reads as follows:
The agreement’s key points then are the following:
No use of weapons in case of conflict,
Supporting the Lebanese army in governing the entirety of Lebanon’s territories alone,
A Switzerland-esque foreign policy to get the country to avoid struggles,
Supporting UN resolutions,
A new electoral law.
Sure, those headlines are all wonderful, and looking at them with no critical thought warrants giving their alliance a second thought. But you can’t not be critical of Lebanese political talk, and the question therefore becomes: how will they do them?
The difference in ideology between Geagea and Aoun is not only related to their Civil War days: the two were supremely divergent even in times of “peace.” They have not agreed on an electoral law other than the Orthodox Law, and even that agreement was more about whose balls are bigger rather than it being done with political wisdom. They have not agreed on which kind of foreign policy they see best for the country. They have not agreed on which way is best to actually get the army to be the only rightful security force in the country, and how to implement all kinds of UN resolutions (hinting at ridding Hezbollah of its weapons).
Alliances need to have a minimum of common ideology. Establishing them just for the sake of common interests in the short run will prove, in the long run, to be detrimental, especially when it affects an entire community (in this case Lebanon’s Christians).
Is this how Christian rights are restored? By making Lebanon’s Christians more exclusive rather than inclusive? By making them more sequestered? By thirding the country instead of keeping it halved? By turning Christians from the entity that governed Lebanon’s dichotomy to another destabilizing agent in an unstable country?
Ignoring the differences that these two presented to Lebanon’s Christian community is the first step towards removing any semblance of democracy from that community. Difference is not to be feared in political contexts. Disregarding it is what’s scary.
Geagea and Aoun made peace. But I have to wonder: what kind of peace?
They’re making the kind of peace that requires us to bury our heads in the sand, like the perpetual ostriches that our Lebanese existence has made us into; the kind of peace that does not deal with the past requiring such a peace to be made in the first place, effectively making it a recipe for impeding disaster.
The argument goes: other factions have done these peace making deals before, and as such Christians doing it should be celebrated. Making peace is good. But is it?
Is the peace made by Lebanon’s other war factions actual peace? The idea of making peace invokes stability. Is the country stable? Is making peace in spite of history not through it, as all those other factions have done, putting the country on the right path towards healing post our civil war?
I look around and see people from different sects still hating each other, still worried about the intentions of one another. I look around and see a political discourse that still gets those who have supposedly made up after our civil war to fear each other.
What kind of peace are they talking about then?
There are things that are a little too late, and this is one of them. Where was the common interest of Lebanon’s Christian community 30 years ago when these two were actively working on canceling each other out, when their wars tore apart Christian communities and left thousands of victims in their wake?
Yes, this is not the time to bring up war-time memories, but healing only starts with remembering. Would there have been a need for such a “deal” to be made in 2016 had those two actually cared about the community they’re panicking about today back in the 1980s?
Peace cannot be made by those who only know war.
I’m afraid to inform you my fellow Lebanese that this “alliance” does not, in any way, affect your life as a Lebanese in the ways that actually matter.
It will not bring you electricity.
It will not fix your garbage crisis.
It will not make your internet faster so you can stream Netflix.
It will not increase your minimum wage.
It will not make your passport worthwhile.
It will not stop the “SSSS” checks on your boarding passes and “random” checkups in airports.
It will not stop ISIS.
It will not extract the oil from our fields.
And, ironically, it does not even guarantee that a president be elected.
Our Lebanese reality cannot be changed when the same people who have been practicing their failed politics over us for 30 years start practicing their politics together.
To end this on a happier note, I can’t but share a few of the lighter tones with which some Lebanese handled the news, in the joke that this actually is:
If you had any doubt that the FPM is a politically bankrupt party, now’s the time to be certain of it.
If you had any doubt that their website, Tayyar.org, was worse than the garbage filling our streets, today is the day when this becomes clearer than day.
Today, the FPM is in full blown crisis mode.
The Free Patriotic Oxymoron wants us to vote for a president. But they couldn’t even vote for their own one because their boss was too afraid his lovely son in law wouldn’t be their chosen one.
Today, the Free Patriotic Hypocrisy wants to reform and change the country, but they’ve been in power since 2005 and haven’t done any of that. 24/24 electricity in 2015? Wait while I go fix the generator.
Today, the Free Patriotic Whatever wants you to see how they’re secular, but their only rhetoric is about Christian rights, also known as the biggest load of bullshit of the year.
They want you to think they’re against the government, but they just happen to be part of it. They want you to think they’re against parliament’s mandate extension, but they just happen to have the biggest parliamentary bloc today.
*More orange applause here.*
And today, because the FPM is so scared of the #YouStink movement, because they’ve seen how a non-partisan, secular movement managed to get WAY more people than the 500 they got on their streets in their BIG revolt for Christian rights, they are after one of the organizers of the YouStink movement, Assaad Thebian.
For reference, this is Aoun’s latest excursion:
And this is the YouStink protest:
How? By digging up old Facebook statuses of his in which he makes jokes about Christianity.
How? By doing what Aounists do best, look at other people’s “mistakes” while utterly and irrevocably ignoring exactly how demented their ranks have become.
How? By basking in the glories of hypocrisy under the veil of Christianity. Haven’t you heard? Aoun is the next coming of Jesus, y’all!
The following are the Facebook posts that offended the FPM so much:
And because there’s nothing more I’d love to do now than to figuratively bash their rhetoric into oblivion, let’s remind the Lebanese masses exactly how hypocritical, deluded and – forgive them Father for they have sinned – blasphemous they are.
Here is Gebran Bassil pretending that he’s the Foreign Affairs Minister of a First World Country, caring for Freedom of Speech and whatnot at the Charlie Hebdo rally to support the victims of the very horrendous crime that took place in Paris earlier this year:
Except clearly freedom of speech is only allowed when it’s not practiced in Lebanon and where pretending we care about it gives our country a good name. All formalities, as you know, because as it is with the FPM words always speak louder than actions.
These are the covers that Gebran Bassil was defending while in Paris, note that they offend both Christianity and Islam, in a way much MUCH worse than Assaad Thebian ever did, but who cares, right?
2) I kneel in front of you, Oh General:
When Gebran Bassil was made president of the FPM, he started his new promotion with a very enticing speech addressing his father-in-law, mentor Michel Aoun. In it he said, and I translate loosely: “Oh general, you leader and mentor and companion, I kneel in front of you along with my compatriots so you could bless us.”
So let me get this, Aoun was giving up on becoming president so he decided to become Jesus? In the name of the Father, His Son in Law, and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Yes, that sounds about right.
This wasn’t the first time Aounists turned their leader into God.
3) Aoun in the Heart of Mary:
A few weeks ago, MP Nabil Nicolas, who was the first to rush down to Martyrs’ Square a few weeks ago and support the #YouStink movement, posted a picture on his Facebook account of his leader, Aoun, in the heart of the Virgin Mary. No further comment needed:
4) They Tried to Hijack #YouStink, But Then Changed Their Mind:
If you also needed more examples on how hypocritical these FPM leaders are, only look at their attempts to hijack the #YouStink movements under the guise that it’s echoing their demands. Yes, right.
First was this tweet by Gebran Bassil:
Then Nabil Nicolas tried to join the protests. Then minister Elias Abi Saab tried to join the protests as well. The nerve that these people have.
Then Gebran tweeted again:
Then they decided the movement was not something they wanted to get involved in. I guess they realized, about a month later, that the movement was against them too.
5) Attacking The Patriarch:
And because we’re digging up stuff from a past long-gone by now, why not dig up something from the FPM’s past? Something like video footage of them attacking the Maronite Patriarch and Bkerki simply because they didn’t agree with Bkerki’s stances?
People in glass houses should not throw stones.
The FPM Doesn’t Just Stink, It Reeks:
Attacking Assaad Thebian is the FPM’s desperate attempt at getting whatever supporters it has left to rally behind the only thing they can use: religion. When your political message fails, when you become so desperate, when you become absolutely dumb-founded by a reality in which you do not matter, you go back to what you know, and the only thing the FPM knows is hate, hypocrisy, and enticing religious tension.
This party’s people saw fitting to scroll down a person’s PERSONAL Facebook page and dig up posts from over a year ago in order to score a few points on a non-partisan and secular movement simply because they felt threatened. Stalkers much?
What’s outrageous here isn’t Assaad Thebian’s personal opinion on religion, which he is 100% entitled to have, on his personal Facebook page, to his friends, but the fact that someone took the effort to make sure and invade his privacy, post these opinions for everyone to see and then have a lawsuit filed against him.
If only I had the financial resources to sue Nabil Nicolas or Gebran Bassil for blasphemy.
Christianity By Name, Never By Action:
This new breed of Christians, as exemplified by those outraged by Assaad Thebian’s Facebook statuses, are exactly what is wrong with Christianity today. They are those people who proclaim to be Christian just for the fun of it, but when it comes to practice, they are as far from it as it can be. Christianity is not only an ID categorization, but a way of life. Don’t tell them I told you this, though.
In between the “bedde nik kess emmo la Assaad Thebian” comments (what did his mother every do to you?), and the various responses that don’t only verge on hate, but fall precariously into the sectarian trash talk that the FPM has long been practicing, this is “Christianity” exemplified:
Screenshot by Chafic Atallah.
Screenshot by Chafic Atallah.
What would Jesus do? He’d slap them across the face, that’s what he’d do.
The Difference Between Us And You:
And here lies the biggest difference between us, those supporting the #YouStink movement in all our forms and colors and religious affiliation or lack thereof, and you. We do not follow a leader, we follow a cause. We are not protesting for someone. We are protesting because this country needs us to protest, because it is our national duty to stand up to the shit that your leader and his friends have gotten us into over the past 10 years.
Assaad Thebian is not a figure that defines the #YouStink movement, he is a figure of the movement. He is entitled to his opinion, and I will defend his right to that opinion in the face of hypocrites and anyone who thinks he should not have an opinion that trespasses on their belief system.
You? Well, you are people who are called after a person’s last name. You are people who are now wondering if your name should be changed to your new leader’s last name. You are followers not to a cause, but to a figure. You move the way that figure sways. You don’t have an ideology, you have a new god to worship.
Between us an you, the only people committing blasphemy are you.