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.

 

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Sorry Jbeil, Lebanon’s Best Christmas Tree Is In Tripoli This Year

At a time when Christmas decorations have become yet another opportunity for Lebanese locales to compete among each other, spending tens of thousands (if not more) of dollars for momentary decorations instead of more needed development.

But I digress. Jbeil, whose Christmas decorations have become a yearly landmark, wouldn’t be too pleased to find out that its (lackluster?) tree this year, which faced stiff competition from the one in Zgharta, is being bested by a very unlikely competitor for the coveted title of Lebanon’s best.

In Tripoli’s unfinished Rachid Karameh expo, a modern-art Christmas tree, inspired by one of Oscar Niemeyer’s landmarks in the expo, merging Ramadan Lanterns with Christmas decorations was unveiled yesterday, to show that the holidays in the country are better celebrated together and that we, as a country, are stronger in being together. This comes from a city that is trying to pick up the pieces from the mayhem it was forced into as a result of years of systematic neglect during which its people were killed, its infrastructure crumbled and its reputation took a beating.

But Tripoli is trying to change all that. Next to its Christmas tree, at 25 meters of height, is an entire Christmas village akin to the one you can go to in Beirut at Train Station. The place is full of local shops trying to sell you goods. I’ve been to that of Beirut yesterday and the one in Tripoli is quite different: the prices are cheaper, it’s more organized and it’s way cleaner. You won’t see people chainsmoking their way indoors up North.

The Christmas village imported the widely popular “Souk el Akel” to Tripoli as well. While the concept of a food market has escaped our Lebanese-ness with the fact that such places should be affordable, with the joke going laban with cucumbers there costing you around $20, this is not the case in Tripoli. The marketplace is half composed of local Tripoli restaurants, and they’re super cheap. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the local moghrabiye.

All of this, including access to the usually closed Rachid Karameh expo, a gorgeous place, costs just 5000LL. The money goes to help thousands of needy children this Christmas season as well as to buy gifts for 2,000 orphans around the city.

The Christmas village will also be hosting a slew of stars in concert this year, as well as Brazilian football player Roberto Carlos who will be there on December 20th:

roberto-carlos-tripoli

So I suggest all of you make the trip up North for the next few days (the village runs until December 22nd) and check out how Tripoli is trying to reclaim its spot on the Lebanese landscape.

From Bikini To Burkini, Or Why Lebanon’s Tripoli Is Awesome

A picture of two veiled burkini-clad women, and another bikini-wearing on one of Tripoli’s popular beach islands is going viral today across Lebanon’s internet-sphere. The last time this many people were interested in the city was to berate it for the way it voted in an election, but that election is now long past and so has those people’s attention from this great city up North.

In that picture, the two stark opposites represent this city that I love more than anything else. So I figured, in this small space that I have, that I’d try to tell you – kind reader – of why this city whose picture you’re so eagerly sharing is worth your time.

1) Bikini versus Burkini:

Bikini:Burkini Tripoli

Picture via @Jadgghorayeb

Over the years, many Lebanese have come to associate an image with Tripoli as that of a city that is ravaged by war, where Islamists reign supreme and where seculars – or anyone who does not want to live by the Sharia for that matter – is not welcome.

The constant and progressive decimation in the city’s reputation is slowly being reversed as of late, with many flocking to its pristine beach islands, to the growing safety of its streets.

The above picture, however, is not an anomaly. It’s the culmination of years in which the city’s varying components co-existed calmly, away from politics and hateful rhetoric, and here they are in all their glory.

2) Beirut’s food prices will have a seizure:

Hallab

You’ve all seen that infamous “Grand Café” picture over the past few weeks and the comparison (although inaccurate) to potential trips to Istanbul that that same bill would’ve covered. Many of you have complained about the price hike in diner chains you’ve loved for years. Now let me tell you a short story.

Yesterday, I took a group of my friends who hadn’t visited Tripoli but to do some necessary paperworks that people of the North have to do in it to one of the city’s restaurants. Their first reaction scanning the prices of that menu – one of Tripoli’s more expensive places, may I add – was to ask one question: how?

Four main courses, drinks, and appetizers later, our bill was less than half of what we would’ve paid for the same combination at any given place in our country’s capital. And the food was great.

In fact, the food is great everywhere. From the restaurants offering Lebanese to those offering mixed cuisine across the city, to the vendors selling cheese and kaak, to the many coffee places many of which I love – Ahwak for the win – to the sweets places and palaces that the city have become synonymous with, you can do no wrong.

3) Lebanon’s biggest old souk is there:

 

Everyone loves to go to Jbeil to see its “authentic” great souks. And while Jbeil’s old sector is awesome, it is dwarfed by what lies in Tripoli’s old city.

Not only is Tripoli’s souk one of Lebanon’s biggest, and is relatively well-kept, but it has retained a flair of authenticity with it being a melting pot of all of the city’s inhabitants, across their sociopolitical status.

The old souks are still divided based on the different services they offer, from khan el saboun to khan el dahab, to the many Ottoman-styled hammams inside them. They’re a must-visit if you’re in the city and in the mood for some meet up with Lebanese history.

4) Citadel St. Gilles is awesome:

Built by the Crusaders, Citadel St. Gilles in Tripoli’s Tebbaneh neighborhood is an extremely well-kept fortress that, because of its location, is rarely viewed as a touristic destination. But it is, and you’d be missing out by not checking it out.

It’s almost 900 years old, has been morphed over the years by the many occupiers of the city into what it is today, and the place being almost always not crowded gives you a visiting experience that view other touristic spots in Lebanon offer.

The entrance is also a simple: 5,000LL.

5) Rachid Karame Forum is spectacular:

Designed by the late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Rachid Karame Forum at the entrance of the city is a vast space that’s probably the most accurate representation of the wasted potential of the city.

Intended to be the hub of an economic forum as plans to turn the city into a Lebanese economic capital were underway, the place is now almost a ghost-town of modern unfinished architecture and landscape designs that will surely blow you away.

6) The Palm Islands are amazing:

Pic via The Daily Star

Pic via The Daily Star

A natural reserve set forth by the Lebanese state, a section of the Palm Islands has been made available for beach-lovers to visit in order to exercise their favorite hobby. From clean sands to pristine waters, the islands are near-free to get to – unlike all the resorts in or around Beirut and its greater area.

Fun fact: the Arabic name for the Islands is rabbit islands. It is as such because during the period of the French occupation, rabbits were let loose on the island. What were two soon became hundreds, and therefore the naming occurred.

7) Timmy’s in El Mina is the pub to go to:

IMG_6535

When I say alcohol, Tripoli is probably the last place you’d think of. But there’s a pub in the old neighborhood in El Mina called Timmy’s that will help you change your mind a little. It’s an old traditional sea-side Lebanese house that has been turned into a massive space for those who feel like they need to wind down after a long day or week.

From sand-stone interior, to chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, to doors manned by a camera based on which the owner decides which clientele he wants to admit or not, the only adjective that could describe the place is exclusive but approachable.

When I was there, I had a discussion with the owner about why he adopted such a policy. He said that he wants to keep the place at a high enough level to attract people to his city. And attract people he does. For the moment, most of those who flock to Timmy’s are either from Tripoli or from the neighboring areas of Zgharta or Koura or sometimes Batroun. But that could change.

8) El Mina’s corniche is one awesome walk:

The same night when I had a few friends try out one of my favorite restaurants in Tripoli and they got shocked with how cheap and good it was, I took them on a drive around the sea corniche in Mina. Stretching for more than 3 kilometers, it is one of Lebanon’s longest and more authentic.

From vendors in small kiosks on the side, to kids flying around kites, to men praying in the heat while they fish, on that corniche you’ll see all kinds of kinds, in a city that has everything you’d see.

9) The people are the most kind-hearted you’ll find:

From close friends, to the people that would give you money for park meters when you’re out of coins, to the hefty portions you’re served anywhere you go, to the overall sense of welcome they infuse in the air of their city, the people of Tripoli are some of the most kind-hearted welcoming people you’ll meet in this country.

I’ve had the pleasure to know many of them, some of whom were like my family at a certain point, and I call myself lucky for doing so.

10) Life exists North of the Madfoun:

The Lebanese border does not end sligthly north of Jbeil. Venture out. Explore a little. Odds are you may be surprised – even if for a picture involving a bikini and a burkini. Suck on that Cannes?

Omar Mohammad: The 17 Year Old Martyr Of Arab Free Thought and Speech

Omar Mohammed

In the vast chaos ravaging through the Middle East, these past few days have been especially detrimental to the already extremely weak freedom of thought and speech. Yesterday, Jordanian officials banned Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila from ever performing in Jordan simply because they were afraid of their progressive message.

A few hundred kilometers away from Amman, a 17 year old named Omar Mohammad was living his last hours before being killed by extremists in his country. His fault? They thought he was an atheist, and as such an apostate. He was, however, a firm believer in God and Islam, but not the Islam those terrorists wanted to propagate, and as such his words on Facebook and his way of life proved to be too much for them to handle.

Today, Omar Mohammad is no more, because he dared to speak up against the horrors that had become customary in the place he called home, Yemen. People like Omar should be memorialized for the courage they exhibit in challenging the status quo where they exist, in doing so with extreme modernity in a sea of backwardness.

Going through his Facebook profile, on which his words will now forever be imprinted, the only thing you can call Omar is a martyr for Arab free speech and thought. He may not have been safe in his last days, as he wrote “a country in which you don’t feel safe is not your home,” but he was brave enough to oppose, brave enough to stand up for himself, for what he believe to be true, for what he thought was wrong in his community and society.

When accused of atheism he replied: “They accuse me of atheism! Oh you people, I see God in the flowers,
And you see Him in the graveyards, that is the difference between me and you.”

On extremists groups he wrote: “How do we await peace from those whose emblem is death?”

On the use of religion to pass ulterior agendas, he said: “You can force your will onto other people. Just call what you want to do the will of God, for that is what men of the cloak do.”

On the current status of the Middle East, he wrote: “We need a moral revolution before everything else, one that brings us back to our humanity, one that wakes us up from our coma. Our situation has become disastrous.”

On the sexual repression culture of the Arab world, Omar said: “Our societies have become purely sexual, and that is because of the repression that our youth live. The simplest example to that is sermons that call for heaven affixed with beautiful women. I challenge a man of the cloak to mention heaven without associating it with women.”

With the murder of Omar, the Arab world has lost a youth that promised a better future, that promised hope that one day this region would amount to something again. May his family find solace in him being remembered by millions of those who didn’t know him, his words propagated forevermore.

Dear MTV Lebanon, Lebanese ARE Racist

There’s plenty that MTV could have covered in their news: A failed 25th attempt at electing a president, more debate and analysis over the Roumieh torture videos, SaudiLeaks cables, etc… The same applies to any Lebanese TV station, clearly.

Instead of covering what actually matters, however, MTV decides to be offended by a Ramadan series aired on its rival LBC. Why? Because, and I quote MTV, “it’s showing Lebanese in a wrong light by portraying them as racist towards Syrians.”

I’ve watched the video over and over again. I honestly have no idea what that TV station is smoking or what that reporter is drinking or what country Naccache is located in because it sure doesn’t feel like the country I’m in.

This is the report currently making rounds, and which will make your blood boil for its sheer narrow-mindedness, lala landness and utter ridiculousness:

I don’t know about MTV, but let me talk about the Lebanon I come from.

1) A few months ago, my hometown decided to enforce a curfew on Syrians. Because that wasn’t enough, some men decided they wanted to form night guard duties, weapons and all, against those Syrians. It wasn’t even a hidden thing. It was a Ebrine normality. In between their “guard” duties, some of those men physically assaulted many Syrians simply because they existed outside of their rooms beyond their forced curfew. A pregnant Syrian woman had to take permission to go out of her house to the hospital to give birth. And the examples are ever-flowing. You can read this article for more info (link).

2) A couple of years ago, Annahar decided to go around Beirut and ask a few Lebanese what they thought of the Syrian refugee presence in their countries. The result was the following video:

I’m particularly interested how someone saying, and I quote, “there are so many Syrians here we might as well call it Syria,” qualifies as tolerance. Or how “I’m afraid of walking on the streets now because there are more Syrians than Lebanese” is a sign of progressiveness. I digress. Let’s proceed.

3) Since MTV was beyond pissed about how that TV show portrayed Achrafieh, let’s see what was all around Achrafieh just a year ago. Luckily, the internet is a beautiful thing, so pictures are aplenty and here are pictures to you:

Again, I’m trying to see how such signs, years after the withdrawal of Syrian troops and a clear manifestation of Christian xenophobia in a heavily Christian region are an indication of how tolerant and open minded we are as Lebanese.

4) With the influx of Syrians into the country, many municipalities, like mine, decided to start curfews for Syrians. Many took this a step further as well. Some places had political parties also come up with posters for the purpose of doubling down on the increasing Syrian presence in Lebanon:

The posters translate into the following: “No Syrian is allowed in this area starting this date or they’ll be insulted, beaten along with whoever’s helping them.” Another one says: “Boycott illegal labor. Hire Lebanese.”

Nothing was done about this back then. Few were the voices that called these as they were, racist and degrading. But we went about our days normally. Have a TV series give the narrative to a Syrian FICTIVE character? Oh Lord no, our Lebanese oversensitive pride won’t have that.

5) It’s been only two days that the following picture made the rounds on social media. An AUB student took a picture of Syrians and captioned it, on Instagram with filters and all: “Many heads, but no brains. #Syrians.” The outrage at that student was entirely political. I’m willing to bet most of those outraged at him were so simply because his political background serves as fuel to their own political hatred, more so than for them being caring about Syrians per se. But still, it clearly shows that such mentalities exist today and are aplenty.

Syrians Racism Lebanon

6) Now that we’ve established that MTV lives in a separate realm of existence (let them talk to Stephen Hawking, he’d be interested), let’s go over a quick survey of the many things we’ve all heard about Syrians and Syria, among people that we all know: Oh look, a Syrian. Oh, there are too many Syrians, be careful. The best thing to come out of Syria is “el festo2 el 7alabi.” And let’s not start with all the homsi jokes, which is when we are taught to be racist towards Syrians the moment we become aware.

But dear MTV, many Lebanese are not racist towards Syrians only. They’re also racist to those of nationalities they deem lesser.

Don’t you remember the guy who wouldn’t shake hands with people who are black?

Don’t you remember that Mothers’ Day ad about special offers on maids?

Don’t you remember the countless MEA reports about racism aboard their airlines? 

Don’t you remember the many maids that lost their lives to abusive employers and have no laws to protect them?

Don’t you remember that picture of the purse getting a seat while the maid remains standing as her family has lunch? 

We’re not only racist towards other nationalities. We’re also racist to each other. If you walk around MTV’s beloved Achrafieh, you are bound to find plenty of “Ra7 Tdall Jrasna Tde2” graffiti plastered around red crosses. Those newly coated with paint to keep their memory as fresh as their color. Who do you think they’re targeted to? Let’s just say it’s not someone who worships the Cross. For reference, I also have this to look at every morning:

 

 

People in Keserwan have endless stories about them chastising “el gharib.” The people of Tripoli are ridiculed by many because of the situation in their city. I have friends from Tripoli who changed their city on their CV because they know it decreases their chances to get hired. But please, tell me more about how we are not racist.

This isn’t to say that every single Lebanese is racist. There are many movements across the country to combat such mentalities. There are many people who are as far from racism as MTV is from being an objective and decent news outlet. The inherent problem isn’t only racism, it’s us pretending that there isn’t such a problem to begin with, it’s outlets like MTV – with substantial power and reach – engorging the ever-growing Lebanese ego, tapping it on the back, and telling it that there’s nothing wrong with you.

Fixing the problem starts with acknowledging it, not being offended by its existence. This is just shameful.

Lebanese Priest Caught On Video Sexually Assaulting A Woman

Rima Karaki is on a roll. After making international headlines around the world for shutting up the Islamist Hani Al Siba’i, her show’s most recent episode is dropping a bombshell of an equal, but less international, caliber.

A priest has been filmed on camera sexually harassing and assaulting a woman, from showing her his penis, asking her to jack him off, to asking her if her vagina was tidy and tight. It’s utterly disgusting.

It starts with a meeting with the priest over some business matter. Eventually, the man starts to hit on the reporter (he doesn’t know she is one, obviously). After inquiring about her living arrangements, he invites her to stay at his local.

From there on out, he starts to talk about his libido.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 5

Suppose we want to sleep together.

 

In hypothetical scenarios of course. “Suppose we want to sleep together,” he tells her, before going on a tirade about his sexual prowess. Yes, he is 70 but he can still fuck like a stud. And he doesn’t take viagra!

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 8

I don’t do it more than twice a week. Even once sometimes.

 

He only sleeps around once or twice a week.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 7

It has to be completely secret. My social status cannot permit gossip.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 6

I’m a man and the woman I want should keep my position and dignity.

 

After all, he is a priest and his position in society demands high levels of privacy and secrecy. No gossip allowed when it comes to him, of course.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 9

I want your vagina to be tidy and clean. Is it tight or loose?

 

And of course, the highlight of the conversation is to know whether her vagina, or as he calls it “at’out,” is clean and nice and whether it is tight or not.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 1

I’ll pull it out and show it to you… take it…

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 2

Play with it… It’s soft.

 

And then there are the sexual advances, from flashing her his penis and asking her to jack him off and get it erect.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 13

– Show me… Take it off. – Take what off?

 

To asking her to flash him as well.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 10

– Get away from me. What do you want from me? – A kiss… and it’s enough.

 

To try and kiss her forcibly.

Lebanese Priest NewTV - 12

– Isn’t this against religion? – Why are you afraid?

 

To not even caring when she brings up that what he’s doing is against the religion he should be preaching. When it comes to being horny, that holy cloak is dropped like the last piece of leaf covering up Venus’ crotch. Here’s a link for the full video:

The tragedy of the matter doesn’t stop here. While watching the video and feeling horrified at what that man was doing, the true horror was on the right side of the screen in the comments section as people, including women, tried to DEFEND what he was doing.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex - 1

This is disgusting and has nothing to do with Christianity. The question to ask is why are they targeting only Christian religious men?

 

There were those who clearly see this as an anti-Christian campaign. Why else would anyone want to discuss this ever? Because Rima Karaki didn’t, just last week, make global ridicule of an Islamist!

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -2

He’s a wise-ass and she’s a slut. Her voice is irresistible.

 

And there were those who blamed her for being a whore with an irresistible voice. How could any man resist?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -3

Since this TV station and its reporters are whores, doing this report clearly shows that the priest is innocent… Would they dare do this to non-Christian religious men? Or is it because they know our religion is that of peace and mercy they attack us? A day will come where you will fall to the hands of people who will make sure you forget what your profession is.

 

And there’s the one who thinks NewTV and its reporters (females) are whores, which clearly shows that the priest is innocent. And of course NewTV wouldn’t do this had the religious man not been Christian. I mean, can they even?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -4

They’re sending her to seduce him and then they’re glad they caught him… go home.

 

Support to the priest also comes from non-Christian Lebanese. When it comes to penises, men must stick together. How dare that woman try to seduce the priest?

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -6

Good for him. She’s a slut.

 

Certainly the woman is to blame.

NewTV Priest Lebanon Sex -7

Don’t you have anything other than religious men to talk about? Go see politicians and their actions. Disgusting media.

 

And it’s all clearly an LBC and NewTV led propaganda because there’s no way a priest can do this. The priest in question tried to defend his “honor” by accusing NewTV of fabricating the video and sending a woman to seduce him.

Not All Priests Are Bad… But This One Is Rotten:

Being born and raised Christian, going to a catholic school and being around churches all my life, I can attest to not all priests being bad. One bad priest does not ruin the whole. Some are men who actually follow the teachings of their religion and who try to help people to the best of their capacities.

This priest, however, is beyond rotten. What he’s doing cannot be defended. NewTV wouldn’t have sent an undercover reporter to his office hadn’t they known about his practices. They should have shown his face. They should have said his name.

How many women has he molested before? How many women has he sexually assaulted? How many women has he slept with? How many women thought they had no other options but to sleep with him? How many people has this priest terrorized through Sunday sermons into sexual repression, of fearing their bodies, for the sake of being chaste to God?

How disgusting is this man to think that “women seducing him” is an excuse to be such a revolting man whose vows of chastity were not only thrown out of the window, but burned at the altar of the Church he serves?

His Church should strip him of his cloak, and ban him from all his religious practices.

How horrifying is it to think that there are people in this country who think that just because someone is a priest or a religious man can absolve the horrible things that those people do? How scary is it that there are people, even now, who can fathom defending such a man just because of the way he prays and who think that TV stations have an ulterior motive other than to get people talking?

Do people really think that the Lebanese Church, whichever this priest belonged to, would have done anything about him even if they had known? The Vatican is barely doing anything about the pedophiles.

I’m sure this isn’t a one incident thing. There are probably plenty of priests and sheikhs in the country doing worse than this, to age groups that are even younger. Before you try and defend this scum or even agree with him that the station trapped him, think about all the people who have fallen victim to them and who don’t have a voice to defend them.

A priest does not a holy man make. Religion does not a good person make. Repeat after me.

Update:

New TV met with the priest for an interview that he requested. His name is Antoun Farah, currently the head of a Lebanese charity for the handicapped. Obviously, he claimed that the video is fabricated… but he refused to meet the woman whom he harassed. He was shown his face on the video without the blurs and he was still adamant that it wasn’t him.

How so, he was asked. I don’t know was his reply.

The fact that he’s not a priest practicing in a parish does not change anything in the way he should be dealt with. What’s scarier is that he was stopped from practicing in a Church due to a previous scandal that may have involved sexual harassment as well and still the Lebanese Church in charge of him did not think it would be best if he were stripped of his religious title.

Let me put it this way: if any priest is faced with anybody in front of them, naked to the skin and tempting them, it is their job not just to resist temptation but to cover those people up. Such a disgusting man.

Christians Are Disappearing From Lebanon

The infamous Lebanese Christian civil war slogan goes: “نحن هنا وهنا سنبقى.” If you google those words that translate to “we are here and this is where we’re staying,” you get plenty of Lebanese-centric references that can, even over 24 years after the theoretical end of the Civil War, get those same Christians riled up. As it stands, however, Harvard did some studies on behalf of the region, and the whole “نحن هنا وهنا سنبقى” slogan is not entirely correct.

Religion Demographics specialists Todd Johnson and Gina Zurlo have recently published a study (link) in the Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policies that examines the situation of Christians in the Middle East in general and in some of its countries in specific.

In general, they noted that the overall Christian population of the Middle East stood at 13.6% in 1910. That 13.6% decreased to a measly 4.2% in 2010. The projections for 2025 put the population at only 3.6%.

They attribute the shift to multiple reasons, including emigration due to wars, instability, the rise of Islamic extremism, etc…. But Lebanon is a focal point of the study due to the different nature of the country compared to the region, especially that they find the drop in the Christian population of Lebanon to be substantial. 

These are their findings:

 

In 1910, prior to the founding of the state of Greater Lebanon (catch up on your history book), Christians constituted about 77.5% of the population of what was the Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon. Before the Lebanese civil war, the portion of Lebanese Christians relative to the general population was approximated to 62.5%. 

Following the end of the civil war and in estimated numbers for 2010, Christians constituted 34% of the Lebanese population. This percentage is expected to drop even further come 2025 to about 30%. 

The reason for the decrease is explained as follows:

  1. The Lebanese civil war and the emigration of Christians to Western countries,
  2. Lower birth rate in the Lebanese Christian population due to their generally higher economic status,
  3. Increasingly decreasing role and influence at a national level.

It’s eye-opening to see in numbers what we know in theory.

Decreasing percentages don’t mean that Christians are going to be wiped off from the country quite yet. The decrease has less to do with the propaganda of ISIS’ threat to existence through fear instilled by fear-mongering politicians, but more to do with how things are in the country as things stand today in 2015.

The purpose of this post is not to elicit sectarian talk. This isn’t about Christians as a religious establishment as much as a demographical agglomeration. The role of Christians in the building of Lebanon is historically established, so losing them is a disaster to the country. Their role in the advancement of the country cannot be denied: all the country’s major universities and schools were formed by missionaries; even our hospitals emanated from Christian religious establishment.

Changing demographics is a natural process in any country’s lifespan. Populations age, their characteristics change, their constitution gets altered over the years. So the solution isn’t to panic about the changes, but to see what they mean.

The Lebanese problem isn’t only that its Christians are becoming less and less of its population, but that those same Christians cannot 1) agree on a future for the country and 2) see that their future lies in stopping to look at themselves as Christians but as Lebanese first and foremost who have a country they need to build, especially given that Lebanon is probably the only country in the region where they can be safe and hope for a country. God, country, family – not in that order.

What Lebanon in general and its Christians in particular need at this point is to finally realize that the only hope, regardless of how demographical percentages change, is the establishment of a secular state in Lebanon where people are not defined by the religion they are born into, but as citizens with rights and duties that are not adjusted to their prayer building.

Certainly, the notion is beyond delusional at this point as it requires a massive leap of forward thinking from the entire Lebanese population. But if Lebanese Christians can’t see the danger of clinging to the status quo where the status quo is as moving as quicksand, then they have more things to worry about than decreasing percentages over a bunch of decades.

Less slogans, more plans. Less chants to civil-war-leaders, more criticism and accountability. Less religious marriages, more civil marriages. Less this faculty’s dean has to be Christian, more this faculty’s dean has to be competent. Less let’s massively panic about Khaled el Daher, more let’s ignore and try to take the higher road.

The “نحن هنا وهنا سنبقى” slogan is easy to say, but it’s tough to implement with no president, political deadlock, rising poverty, no prospect for jobs, and the urge to get visas stamped on your passport the moment you receive your college degree. I guess it all doesn’t matter in the face of fiery existential chants. If only, though, the numbers lied. Build a country in which you’d want to stay, not just shout about staying.