The Lebanese Issue With Fetih 1453

Fetih 1453 is a Turkish movie that was briefly released in Lebanese cinemas last week before meeting outrage from Greek Orthodox Christians due to its “historically incorrect” and defamatory content.

The movie has since, of course, been banned.

I won’t go endlessly about the uselessness of bans and how I’m officially against banning anything, etc, bla bla bla. You don’t want to waste your time reading it and I’m frankly tired of sounding like a broken record with this happening frequently lately.

Having said that, I do have an issue with Fetih 1453. Let’s call it the Lebanese Turkish obsession.

I don’t like Lebanese people watching Syrian-dubbed Turkish endless dramas. It was “funny” to see the Nour craze (this still makes me cringe). But when it started moving towards twenty five series per second on every single channel on TV, it became frankly nauseating.

And yet those series still find an audience. So I figured housewives and school children must be bored. The former don’t get access or can’t read Fifty Shades of Grey and the latter haven’t discovered porn yet. And it’s fine – it’s just something free and silly for them to watch.

However, I have to ask: Why did a Turkish movie get a wide release and such intensive publicity in Lebanon to begin with?

It’s not because the movie is a foreign movie. The world has about 200 countries, many of which produce cinema. I don’t see Latvian movies getting wide releases here.

It’s not because Turkey is a nearby country. I’m pretty sure Greece has movie offerings as well and we don’t get those.

It’s not because the cinema in Turkey is such an attraction. If anything, why not bring Bollywood movies? For the record, please don’t.

We don’t know the Turkish language. Most of us (I’d say all but who knows) don’t want to learn the language. Many other cinematic offerings by other more cinematically “significant” countries never see the light of day at our cinemas. And yet someone decided that this Turkish movie was such a cinematic jewel that we couldn’t live without it.

A Separation,” a movie that by all accounts is near a masterpiece, didn’t even get a wide release here. Let alone all the billboards announcing it. And that movie is Iranian, so another neighbor whose number we don’t understand and who’s politically involved with us.

Do Lebanese movies get the same treatment in Turkey? Our movies don’t even get the same reception in Egypt that Egyptian movies get over here.

Moreover, didn’t anyone stop for a second and think what would the Lebanese Armenians think about a Turkish movie being released in Lebanon? Why don’t we bring Armenian movies to Lebanon instead? At least there are people here who’d go watch them without needing the subtitles.

It would have been much better for Fetih 1453 to be incorporated in one of the many movie festivals we get over here. Lebanese movie distributors should either be fair in bringing movies here or just keep the regular formula that honestly seems to work: bring the American and French. Leave out the rest. Sprinkle some Lebanese Nadine Labaki occasional seasoning on top. And that’s it.

The Case for Christian Easter Unity

What I'm celebrating

As I’m celebrating Easter Sunday today, Orthodox Christians are celebrating the day I had last week: Palm Sunday.

Following Palm Sunday, they’re going to have their own Holy Week, in which Jesus will go through what He went through this past week with Catholics, leading up to Him dying on the Cross yet again, before resurrecting.

That’s too much work for a deity in a couple of weeks, don’t you think? And quite redundant as well.

So I ask this. The fact that there are two Easters means that one may be right, the other may be wrong – or both may be wrong at that and Easter should be set at a totally different date altogether.

What Orthodox Christians are celebrating

I don’t want to go into who’s right and who’s wrong. That is besides the point. I don’t want Orthodox fanatics going all “Orthodox, Orthodox” on me, trying to prove they’ve got the correct Easter. And I don’t want Catholics to go all “holy Pope” in trying to prove theirs as well.

I also don’t want to hear about the various weather theories: it rained on our Good Friday, God must be on our side. It’s 2012 people.

There needs to be a credible approach towards setting a date for Easter that works for both sects, every year. I wouldn’t mind a twelve day vacation every time, as well.

If anything, being Christian is going beyond your pride, which I think is the only hurdle facing unifying Easter, and working towards the unity of the Church – at least when it comes to the crucification of Jesus.

Until then, Happy Easter to Catholics and have a great Palm Sunday, Orthodox people. Hopefully there will come a day where I can say Happy Easter to both every year, not on sporadic years where both Easters happen to be simultaneous.

He is risen.


Destroying Beirut’s Culture: Achrafieh’s Mar Mitr Construction Site

It’s sad to see Beirut losing its culture with all these new buildings replacing better looking older ones daily. It hurts to see your capital slowly turn from a city with architectural taste to a concrete mess. But I never thought I’d see a construction site in the middle of a cemetery – let alone one of the most famous cemeteries of Achrafieh: Mar Mitr.

As I walked back from ABC with a friend yesterday, that friend (being the staunch Orthodox that he is) wanted to visit Mar Mitr for a few minutes. So I wandered around the mausoleums, which I find breathtaking, only to find a horrific site. Next to where people like Gebran Tueini are buried is what appears to be an extension of the church next to the cemeteries. And since space is sort of limited, what did those in charge think as the next best thing? Build on top of the mausoleums of course.

So instead of Mar Mitr being a collection of these:

It now has this to add to its “flavor”:

You’d think the block of concrete forming the Spinneys parking lot next to the cemetery would be enough. Apparently not. You know, sometimes a church is just good the way it is. I’m pretty sure extending the Mar Mitr church isn’t of a vital necessity.