Cancer Of Arabism, Breeder of Terrorism, And Radical Islam Harborer Saudi Arabia Is Walking All Over Lebanon’s Reputation & Sovereignty Because We Allow It

It’s the epitome of irony when the country that gave the world the masterminds and executioners of 9/11, whose soil gave birth to Bin Laden and other infamous terrorists that have killed innocents the world over, whose money has funded terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Europe and America, whose entire existence is about destabilizing as much as possible accuses Lebanon of terrorism – and detains its own prime minister as a result.

Saudi Arabia, the country that made a robot a citizen before its own women can have equal rights, summoned our prime minister to their country one week ago to this day, forced him to resign, and is now holding him at an unknown location in their country, not permitting him to return to his country that he is still technically in charge in. You see, Lebanese Prime Ministers cannot resign from abroad and consider that resignation valid, it has to be presented to the Lebanese president. Saudi Arabia is holding our head of state for ransom – as one of Marcel Ghanem’s Saudi guests put it: “you’ll get him back once you’ve gotten rid of Hezbollah.”

I wonder, how would the Saudis feel had some foreign power decided to hold their crown prince hostage, say, in their territorial waters one day, on his fancy ass boat just because they can? Nay, Saudi Arabia doesn’t reason. It’s a country synonymous with oppression, cutting off hands as forms of punishment and spreading hate whenever they can.

A country that’s made Arabism more cancerous than actual cancer, who has bred terrorism and harbored all the facets of Radical Islam is currently tramping all over our reputation as sovereign state. They hold our economy in their hands – 22% of remittances come from there. They hold our politics in their fingers. They are literally holding our prime minister in their midst. They send their henchmen on TV shows run by Lebanese journalists and reporters, and have them insult the country to those reporters’ faces, only to be stared at blankly.

You see, for a country that’s 50 shades of demented like Saudi Arabia to have so much power over our own home, the answer is simple: we’ve allowed it to foster over the years, putting our own dignity as a country second to the well-being and pride of the Saudis, and their friends.

When they send their tourists in, we treat them like royalty. They’re not just another tourist visiting the country for the summer – they’re the Saudis who are back for this season. We offer them specials in our restaurants, we kiss their asses like no other touristic ass has ever been kissed in the country. We inflame the sense in them that we need them more than they need us.

When they tell us we have to be thankful they ended our civil war, we shrug and nod. We don’t rise up to say that they had as much a hand in the civil war in the first place. We don’t tell them that one cannot claim credit for ending a disaster that one was part of. Instead, we take the hit and change the topic. It’s Saudi Arabia, the mighty heart of Mecca. One does not simply oppose their rhetoric easily.

When they call on their citizens to leave the country, we fall on our knees and beg them to change their minds. They pull that card faster than Gebran Bassil spews racism, and yet, we fall to their tricks every time. No, please don’t have your people go. No, please let them stay. Sam Smith was not that desperate in any of his songs. Do we need their money? Sure. But some things are more important than money in this country, and sometimes telling someone who’s bluffing to your face to fuck off is what’s needed.

When they threaten the well-being of Lebanon’s families in their country, and consequently our economy, we crumble in fear of what could happen if they execute their threats, not knowing that their economy is as much reliant as Lebanese workers who are there. It’s beyond egotistical for them to remotely believe they can even replace our diaspora that is there, but they threaten it anyway, and we fall for it every time.

Their hands – as are Iran’s – play with our country like legos. Our borders, whether closed or not, are always open for their interference to come in and do whatever it wants, no questions asked. Our relationship with them has been parasitic for a very long time, but today it is becoming cancerous. Today, Saudi Arabia is trying to, as it has been doing for years now, squash the little country it thinks it can take on, except it’s no longer in the woodworks and out in the open.

And we let it. We’ve let our politicians, be it Saad or his dad or other figures, convince us that we must be eternally grateful to the Kingdom for our well-being as a country, no questions asked, no criticism raised. They can kill our political cycle by not letting us have the president we want, the prime minister we want, the elections we wanted, the security we deserve, the stability we seek. And we are supposed to sit in a corner, bow our heads and be eternally silent.

Our country has lived without a president, prime minister, functioning governments, functioning infrastructure, a garbage disposal system, terrorist attacks (funded by Saudi Arabia and friends, sometimes), democracy and elections, and we’ve survived. What have the Saudis been through exactly in their lifetime? Oil prices dropping? Cry me a river.

They have a way of making even the staunchest anti-Hezbollah Lebanese rise up against the disgusting rhetoric they’re throwing at us, the insults they’re hurling our way, and the utter disregard to the sanctity of Lebanon as a country in everything they do. It is high time we stand up as a country to being bullied and say that will happen no more. Give us back our prime minister, fight your proxy wars elsewhere, and leave us the fuck alone. We’re a country of 4 million strong who have been through hell and back, whose skin is thicker than yours will ever be, and who are sick of your bullshit in their daily lives for the past 30 years.

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From Lebanon To Saudi Arabia: Thanks For Declaring War On Us, But Can You Chill The Fuck Down?

In today’s episode of “The Bullshit Roaming The Kingdom of Saud,” Saudi Arabia has – through one of its ministers – declared war on the tiny country of Lebanon as it accuses of Hezbollah of launching a missile from Yemen on its capital, Riyadh, on Saturday, naturally without providing any proof of any sort to reinforce such an accusation.

While the premise of Saudi military action against Lebanon is far-fetched; after all, they are barely holding it together in Yemen against some rebels anyway, the mere notion of such a huge and capable country declaring war against Lebanon is horrifying.

What this means is that Saudi Arabia can turn Lebanon into another Qatar (minus the money) effectively barricading it both economically and strategically. As it stands, Saudi Arabia does not want Hezbollah to have anything to do with any form of governance in the country, effectively considering the mere presence of the party in any government a declaration of war. Dramatic much? Perhaps. But then again, a country that arrested 11 princes only 48 hours ago is not exactly one known to go out with grace.

Such a declaration of war can mean chaos to many Lebanese families and our entire economy, especially with politicians that have made sure over the years to interconnect our entire country’s fabrics to us being in the Kingdom’s good graces. Yes, Saad and family, we are looking at you.

I imagine that KSA’s demands will be very Hezbollah centric. As we all know, requests to halt any military activity by that specific party are near impossible for us as Lebanese to fulfill. Whether we want to or not, Hezbollah is stronger than the Lebanese state, is backed by a regime that is as strong as Saudi Arabia, and is influential enough to even terrify the mighty House of Saud.

What Saudi Arabia can do, however, is cause so much economical damage that Lebanon can take years to recover. Thousands of Lebanese families are dependent on work in KSA for their livelihood. Thousands of projects in the country are dependent on Saudi funding. Even more projects and economic dependency is illustrated once you factor in other GCC countries (minus Qatar) that also fall in line whenever Saudi Arabia orders them to.

Unlike Qatar, however, Lebanon does not have the financial or economic backbone to withstand an effective blockade against it from mighty countries that were, up until a few hours ago, “very concerned” about its well-being as a country. What could this mean for Hezbollah? The party has received such threats from Israel before, but where Israeli threats remain predominantly as such, Saudi Arabia could tangibly put a blockade into effect.

So dear Saudi Arabia,

We know it’s been hard for you. Trying to enable a new bratty prince is difficult, especially when his view of the world is so different from anything you’re used to that it’s sort of threatening everything you’ve known. Your clerics are angry, some of your ruling class are angry, a lot of your men are angry now that you’ve let your women drive (welcome to 2017). And then add in those low prices of oil. Have you tried a Prozac, perhaps? Xanax does wonders too.

We know you’ve been stretched too thin. A war in Yemen, a blockade that’s not working against Qatar, a feud with Iran that is not going your way, an American president who’s only concerned with wanting you to sell stocks in the New York Stock Exchange, but could you maybe have developed some hearing deficiency? I’m pretty sure you saying we declared war on you is way too similar to that kid in recess back during school days who’d beat up other kids and then go run to his mother saying it’s the other way around.

Look at the bright side though, you’re slowly becoming BFFs with Israel. Yes for new friends, isn’t that nice?

In the grand scheme of things, I wonder: are you okay? You seem to be more demanding than that ex we all have and despise. Do you want to talk about all those issues you keep piling up? Is letting women drive really causing your societies to unravel so much you can’t even get your shit together anymore and feel the need to declare war on small countries just so you can feel mighty?

You already have our prime minister in knots around your fingers. His allegiance is literally with you, and not his country. He escaped to you in the moment you declared war on the country he was governing. What more do you want from us? Is Saad not enough? I mean look at him! He looks so happy to be there, with his fancy smartwatch.

To put it blunty, can you chill the fuck down and mind your own business for once? Of course not, what a silly question.

P.S.: I hope you’re happy, Saad! ❤

Sincerely,

Lebanese citizens concerned for their families back home. 

Israeli Christians Are Coming To Lebanon For Pilgrimage; Patriach Rai Wants Lebanese Christians To Be Allowed To Go To Holy Land

The most amazing story coming out of the Middle East this week is a report by Haaretz around two days ago about a massive undertaking by the Israeli Maronite and Christian populace to be able to come to Lebanon for pilgrimage, a country that is at war, and has no diplomatic relations with Israel.

The way these Israelis go at it is the following: they leave Israel and enter Jordan with their Israeli passports. In Jordan, they are issued Palestinian travel documents which they use to travel to Beirut. Those travel documents are then confiscated at our airport, and are only valid for a one week entry.

During that one week, the itinerary that the Israelis have includes: Mar Charbel in Annaya, Batroun’s convents, Harissa, Maghdouche, Baalbek, etc… as well as some Beirut mall, of course, which they are allowed to visit for a few hours only. They stay at facilities provided by the Maronite Church, are not permitted to leave their groups unattended, and the entire trip is planned from points A to Z in the utmost details in order to prevent any fallback from such measures in both countries.

In fact, they are not even allowed to talk to Lebanese people at the sites they are visiting for fear of someone recognizing where they’re from and tipping off authorities. They keep to themselves, spend a week here, and go back to their country reportedly very “appreciative” of the experience they got.

The Haaretz report (link) says that hundreds of Israeli Christians have been using that method to come to Lebanon for pilgrimage. I was intrigued as to why Israelis would want to come to Lebanon for Christian pilgrimage when they are literally living in the Holy Land. As it turns out, the majority of those coming into Lebanon are Maronites, who have bonds to the region being where the seat of Maronitisim and its main holy sites are.

The origin of such a pilgrimage trip reportedly goes back to 2014, which also happens to be the last time a high profile Maronite figure visited the Holy Land was when Patriach Bechara El Rai went there in 2014 when the Pope was also visiting. During that visit, the patriarch reportedly met with Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian authorities, in Ramallah and discussed with him issuing Palestinian travel documents to Israeli Arab Christians who wish to visit Lebanon for pilgrimage. As it turns out, Mahmoud Abbas obliged.

Since then, those trips have become increasingly less hidden, with authorities in Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine deciding to turn a blind eye to these people going about their religious escapades in a country they’d normally not be able to visit. For $1800, the people wishing to visit Lebanon register their names with a yet unidentified priest in Galilee who then transmits that list to the Palestinian authorities for travel documents issuance.

Given that many Israeli Muslims are allowed to go to Saudi Arabia using Jordanian passports for Hajj, I don’t believe that such trips into Lebanon purely for religious purposes should cause any uproar. Even Al-Akhbar, known for their anti-Israeli crusades against anything that is touched by the Zionist state (as long as it’s not something they’re dependent on of course), was not entirely critical of the visits, labeling them under the guise of religion, rather than politics.

As it is though in the Middle East, everything is political.

Soon after the Haaretz report surfaced, Patriarch Rai announced that he believes Lebanese Christians should also be permitted to be able to visit the Holy Land and Jerusalem as part of religious pilgrimage. Rai believes that such visits would not fall under the much-dreaded normalization, but rather under religious auspices.

To that effect, during his much talked about visit to Saudi Arabia later in the month, he will discuss the logistics of how KSA, a country also with no diplomatic relations to Israel (yet), facilitates its own pilgrimage process of Israeli Muslims. As per the Haaretz article, Raï said “when I visited the Holy Land, I met with my community and had no political activity. And I don’t see anything wrong with this.”

Except while Patriarch Raï sees nothing wrong with such a move, a Lebanese population that rose up in arms about a movie with an Israeli actress will sure run towards the guillotines and shout treason and normalization at anyone who agrees with such a prospect.

Currently, a Lebanese citizen who wishes to visit the Holy Land cannot do so unless they are in the possession of a second nationality which permits visits to Israel, and even then that person would technically be breaking Lebanese law, although I wonder: how much emphasis can we put on laws whose application is as arbitrary as the Lebanese raison d’etre, only put into action when there’s enough political backbone for them to be applied, only enforced on those who don’t have IMDB pages to their names or enough clout to escape the judicial system?

I find the premise of religious causes outweighing political ones to be appealing, but this is the Middle East and not La La Land (that movie deserved the Oscar fyi). In a region as volatile and as precipitous, and between two countries that are constantly in conflict, whether actual or an undercurrent, should religious pilgrimage be allowed?

I’d like to say that if the Israelis are doing it, then we should do it as well. But while those Israeli Arabs have technical means with which they can access Lebanon (Palestinian documents, as they also happen to be Palestinian), Lebanese Christians only have their passport as their means for visitation. Such visits are, therefore, not technically feasible in the first place.

Add to the technical aspect of things all the treason threats that those who undertake such visits would get. It wasn’t a long time ago that people accused me of treason and sympathy with Israel because my name indicated I was Christian, solely due to me not wanting Wonder Woman to be banned. Even Al-Akhbar which was okay with the visits from Israel’s Arabs (apparently it considers them to be forcibly naturalized), the mere mention of such reciprocity had them be up in flames.

Such visits from Lebanon cannot be done in hiding – as their Israeli counterpart is happening. The Lebanese state has to sign off on them to begin with, and such a thing will never happen.

Until then, let those Israeli Arabs enjoy the many convents and spectacular views that Lebanon has to offer. By the looks of it, such visits will not be lasting long now.

 

Roy Hamouche’s Murder Is Horrific, But Calling For The Death Penalty Isn’t The Answer

 

The barbaric murder, at the hands of Mohammad Ahmar and this two friends, of Roy Hamouch, a 24 year old architect, has quickly trumped all other discussions taking place in the country as the entire nation reels from the state of lawlessness we’ve reached. The sad reality is that Roy’s murder isn’t the lone event we all want it to be. It’s become part of a pattern we have in this country, with lack of gun regulations and unbreakable wastas.

With some people being always above the law, and helping those that propagate their agenda be above the law with them, can we truly hope for justice to be served in any of these murders that are becoming more frequently?

As I said in my blog post on the issue yesterday:

In this land they call a country, rule of law does not exist. Some people here can do whatever they want – even kill – and still get away with it through the help of the many Lebanese that are always above the law, on whom there’s no accountability, who never face consequences for their actions.

How many times is the exact same scenario supposed to be repeated before we realize that the way they’re forcing us to live in this jungle is not acceptable anymore, that our lives are not at the mercy of airheads who are bolstered by the power of their wasta and the barrel of their gun.

As such, the more people talked about the horrific killing of Roy Hamouch, the more I’ve seen people demand for the death penalty to be reinstated in Lebanon. So I asked the following question, with a poll, on Twitter and – so far – I’m surprised to find that over 60% of people approve of the death penalty in Lebanon:

The main justification I got for people voting “yes” was that in this lawless nation, the only way to make sure Roy’s killers receive the punishment they deserve is through capital punishment. Some are even calling for reinstitution of public executions. But is calling for a death penalty when emotions are high and reason put on the back-burner the answer to such scenarios?

I’d be lying if I said that question hasn’t conflicted me. You see, my family was touched more than 18 years ago in a murder in the vein of Roy’s, which was all over the news for 3 days, and had everyone talking and coming up with all different kinds of conclusions.

While on a hunting excursion in my hometown, my uncle and his friend encountered an acquaintance of theirs who got out of his house and opened fire on them both. What followed was a night-long stand off with the Lebanese army, the Red Cross unable to collect the bodies of my uncle and his friend, and – ultimately – a call from then president Emile Lahoud to kill the man because capturing him had proved to be immensely difficult due to his Civil War training with a Northern Lebanese political party.

I’d like to think that if my uncle’s murderer hadn’t been killed back then, I wouldn’t want him to receive the death penalty today. Partly because I think death is the “easy” way out for people like him, and partly because I firmly believe that death penalty is a political ploy that serves no purpose and wouldn’t have brought my family closure.

To say the death penalty is a fair and unbiased punishment is delusional. For context, the last time an execution happened in Lebanon was in 1997, and even then the three men who received the death penalty were divided according to sectarian lines: one of them was Maronite, another was Sunni, and the third was Shiite. This is to say that even in such matters of punishment, our sectarian system interferes to make sure that sects don’t feel particularly targeted. Does that translate in a fair punishment when those who receive death are chosen based on how they pray?

The fact of the matter is, unpopular an opinion as it is, the murderers of Roy Hamouch are also victims of the Lebanese condition, as we all are: a country ruled by warlords who propagate this tribalism through allowing people like those who killed Roy to do what they do, and be protected in the process. They keep them poor, uneducated and helpless, with the only hope of a “decent” future for them being them under the wings of some patron as they do his bidding.

The simplest example to that is that Mohammad Hassan Ahmar, the murderer of Roy, being from a poor village in the Baalbak caza named Iaat. He has been in and out of the Roumieh prison before, and has a few more warrants against him. Our system has failed Mohammad. He is a victim of his own conditions, not that that justifies what he did in any way.

We can’t hope for a developed and civil country when we’re advocating for horrific punishments for equally horrific crimes. It’s hypocritical of us to complain about Lebanon not being “civilized” enough when we’re calling for “uncivilized” punishments.

The death penalty has been proven not to deter from horrific crimes, but is actually a tool used by governments to oppress. You can be certain that any Lebanese who receives it is one who doesn’t have a strong enough wasta to protect him from being hanged or shot or receive a lethal injection. Can you imagine the son or daughter of a politician who does as horrific a crime as the murder of Roy Hamouche receiving it?

Calling for death sentences means that we think the people in question are non-redeemable human beings who are not worth being given a chance at trying to better themselves – even if that occurs in a life sentence without parole. This is why reforming our prison system is paramount to enable people, like Mohammad, who have been incarcerated before to actually have a shot at rectifying their lives when they’re released, and not fall back on the only thing they know: being criminals.

Nothing can give back Roy’s family the precious person they lost. The death of my uncle’s killer wasn’t the healing closure that you’d expect in mending the gaping wound that his horrific death left in our family. We need to be more humane humans for us to maybe start healing.

Until then, rest in peace Roy Hamouche. May your parents find solace in you becoming a part of every Lebanese household, and touching the hearts of everyone in this country.

Lebanese Politicians Don’t Care About Increasing Taxes:  They Know We’re Voting For Them Anyway & We Won’t Budge As Long As WhatsApp & Arguileh Are Untouched 

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VAT is now 11%. Our parliament is blazing through approving the 22 new taxes and increases that I wrote about a few days ago. Check them out here (click).

Among the other taxes being passed are those affecting alcohol, numerous stamps which increase bill prices, etc.

Among what is remaining unchanged is the salaries and benefits that current and previous MPs and ministers receive, as well as the shitload of money they get from all the deals they make by being part of government. Hurray!

Things are so messed up in parliament that:

• We can’t know exactly what is taking place at the session discussing the tax increase because it is not recorded nor televized,
• We cannot know which MPs voted for which taxes because Samer Saadeh’s request to have that be made available was denied.

The system is so corrupt that our politicians can screw us over as citizens with tax increased while providing nothing in services rendered, making sure the infrastructure we have remains horrible, and our basic rights stripped away.

Have you ever wondered if our politicians pay taxes? Have you asked yourselves why aren’t Lebanese politicians seeking office required to show us their tax returns as is the case in other countries?

Have you ever wondered why our politicians are not required to declare about their conflict of interests going into office? They literally are “voted” into their seats and find themselves rolling in the deep riches, fueling their personal businesses from tax evasion to directing governmental tenders their way. The examples are endless.

And yet, despite this all the level of apathy remains at an all time level and it is across the board.

Our politicians don’t give a shit because we’ve allowed them to be as relaxed as they are. They’ve drowned us in garbage and gotten away with it. They’ve robbed us of our election rights two times, with the third on the way, and they’ve gotten away with it. They make us live in no electricity, horrible internet and barely any running water and get away with it. They threaten our lives with having their goons do whatever they want and run unchecked, and they get away with that too. Taxes are another manifestation, and they are getting away with it too.

Just look at any poll for the fictional upcoming parliamentary elections. The same MPs that are currently representing a given caza are those leading in any done poll. Christians are happy because “bay el kell” is now in charge. Sunnis are happy because Hariri is back. The Shia are happy because no one dares tell their parties off, and the Druze are the Druze.

The Lebanese people have gotten to a “don’t give a shit” point that tax increases don’t get the same level of attention as a sexist list of reasons why you should date them, or a one year old news about their capital’s food. It shows in how our students vote in university elections, how we voted in municipal elections, how it’s still easier for us to be upset online than to do anything about it.

If only they’d taxed WhatsApp and Shisha, then something would have happened.

Lebanese Parliament Is Going To Extend Its Term A 3rd Time. We Last Voted In 2009. It’s 2017. Bass Hek.

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They want you to be busy with Myriam Klink, while they ignore the fact they should have come up with an election law 8 years ago.

They want you to be busy with their attempts to make you poorer, while they ignore the fact that they are demolishing the deadlines for the parliamentary election coming up this May.

They want you to be overwhelmed with all the hurdles they throw at you, so you are too preoccupied from standing up to the neo-dictatorship they’ve turned this country into by being so incompetent, so horribly bad, and so disgustingly unfit to serve you as citizens.

They want to blind you with them ordering delivery from apps, and bicycle lanes to feign modernity.

They want to fool you with biometric passports thinking we’re going up.

They want you to be grateful they’ve maintained stability, grateful that you have them, as they take us as citizens for granted every single day.

So here’s our wake up call:

We have not voted for parliament since 2009.

The last time Lebanon went this long without elections was when we had a civil war. This time, there’s no war. There’s simply horrendous incompetence and corruption and utter disregard for the constitution and our rights.

People of my generation have never ever cast a vote for parliament. I can’t even hold my politicians accountable because they don’t let me under the guise of “fair representation.” Here’s a news alert for you, our disgusting politicians: representation will never be fair if, you know, elections are never held in the first place.

And parliament will extend its mandate for the third time in a row, because they can’t agree on an electoral law, because they don’t care about agreeing on a law in the first place, because us having the basic right to vote is the least of their concern.

But please, Lebanon, if they ever let you vote, just don’t vote for them?

The Humiliation of Entering The United States As Arab

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

I was rejected the US visa for the first time when I was fifteen. I remember standing there, in front of the Embassy Consulate, unsure as to why I was being shut away, as just a young boy, from spending a summer abroad with his family. I was told I didn’t have an “extended enough travel history,” because as you know most 15 year olds have probably been around the world.

Ten years later, after months of back and forth with the Embassy and papers flowing in and out, I was finally given a visitor’s visa for 5 years on my third try, routine for Lebanese citizens who were granted the document as far as I know. A few months later, I visited the United States of America for the first time ever.

On my second visit, the border control officer said his system “couldn’t process” me, so I was taken into another room where, an hour and another interrogation later, I was permitted entry to come into the US to do my medical residency interviews. This happened again on my third entry, with longer waiting times. Entering the US has been the most invasive thing to my being, and I’ve survived medical school.

It’s also what has been happening to many of my colleagues and friends: doctors, scientists, researchers, humans. Just because they were unfortunate enough to be born in countries that are not worthy of enough of having their citizens treated with the minimum of human decency. I can tell you stories about physicians who were kept in those rooms for four hours, waiting for who knows what. It’s never easy to sit there and not know what’s going to happen to you, just because you dared seek entry of a foreign country that you’ve already been thoroughly vetted to be given a visa to.

This process that we go through every time we want to come here, that we know we have to willingly subject ourselves to in order for us to visit New York or some monument or even see some extended family is, apparently, not “rigorous” enough.

Today, on my third visit, with the news of president Donald Trump stopping visas and entries from countries he doesn’t like and even though my country isn’t on the list, I’m the most scared and the most unwelcome I’ve felt in a country whose history celebrates its diversity and its enabling of people from all kinds by giving them a chance at making it.

Not if your kind is Arab.

You’ll read plenty about illegal immigrants, but the fact of the matter is the United States scares me too much for me not to abide by its laws. It’s not about how it cracks down on illegals or how it’s managed to change the course of my region for centuries to come. It’s about how humiliated I’ve felt every single time I’ve applied for that visa.

Many of you wouldn’t think twice about the notion of a “tourist visa.” To most of you, the term is as foreign as that of the person demanding it, but every single time we apply for one – be it for the United States or any other country – we have to subject ourselves to the most rigorous of checks, be ready to provide every form of documentation imaginable. Just for a visit.

And this isn’t rigorous enough.

For a refugee to be granted entry to the United States, they must first apply through the UNHCR, which conducts its own interviews and documentation collection process. Those selected for re-settlement in the United States have their files referred to the State Department which puts the refugee through screening by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI and DHS. More anti-fraud agencies come into play later as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS), which interviews the refugees, fingerprints them, and runs those fingerprints through the FBI, DHS and Department of Defense.

If a refugee passes through all of that, they are given health screenings to make sure they’re not bringing in any diseases to the US, while being enrolled in cultural orientation classes as they wait, while their information is checked constantly against terrorist databases. On September 15th, 2016, the US House of Representatives also voted to add further screening steps that require the FBI director to sign off on every single refugee.

Over the past 15 years, the United States, also the world’s third largest country in size and population, has re-settled only around 780,000 refugees.

And this isn’t rigorous enough either.

The fact that my friends have to be told by their employers not to go home for fear of their visas not getting renewed, and have their families not be able to visit them because someone out there is so afraid of them existing is 2017’s reality for many. But we can’t say anything about it, because it’s their country and we’re just parasites in it.

Growing up, America was always a place of hope for me. It was from where, as a kid, my relatives visited with gifts. It was the place from which, growing up, my favorite musicians, series and movies emanated. It is the place, today, that I’m working diligently as a graduated physician to come train in. Today, that place gives me anxiety, just for coming from a certain country in a region whose entirety is on a blacklist, knowing that the most illegal thing I’ve done in my life was break speeding limits.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that selective targeting is never a good thing nor does it build better societies nor does it contribute to the betterment of countries. After all, isn’t one of the most shameful events in American history were the Japanese internment camps around World War II?

With every passing day of Trump’s presidency, and at this rate it is daily, America’s image is getting distorted. Perhaps that is what those who voted for him want: for it not to remain a country of inclusiveness, and become a walled – literally? – state. But it’s also my belief that no country can ever truly be great through hate, fear, the refusal of anything that is different and the denigration of a people. A few decades ago, Anne Frank and her family were denied American visas. How many Anne Franks will be refused away because of fear today?