Breaking News: I Almost Died

Well, not quite.

I was in Tripoli when Saad Hariri’s long-awaited Ramadan speech was taking place. I couldn’t care less about what he had to say so I just sat with my friends on a porch, enjoying an afternoon August breeze.

“He’s ten minutes in and we haven’t heard bullets yet,” Ismail said jokingly. And, as if on queue, the bullets started getting fired up the air.

So as we discussed some inescapable politics through the distant shots, we heard something ricochet off the wall and land immediately next to us. We were four people. This surprisingly heavy bullet could have hit anyone:

Bullet tripoli lebanon

I’m not the kind to immediately freak out so we simply retreated inside as they cursed the morons shooting on the streets in celebration. The shooting soon ended as the speech died down.

Then I wondered: what if this actually hit one of us?

Any kind of injury because of this bullet would necessitate hospital attention.  What if we can’t afford the hospital? What if there’s no hospital around? What if the supposed injury was life-threatening? Why is my well-being contingent upon the odds of ricochets?

Till when should we be satisfied that this is simply a “what if” scenario?

The worst part of it is that we have all become so used to this, even those of us who don’t come from a city that has become far too acquainted with such incidents, that the logical thing to do was to simply change rooms and wait it out because we knew there was nothing else we could do and that no entity whose job was to prevent such things from happening would actually do its job.

However, I’m not full of negativity. I can see the silver lining in all of this: they were firing bullets not rockets.

Saad Hariri & Lebanon’s Civil Marriage

Following more than two hours of questions and dodging answers, you could say that Saad Hariri’s first interview in a long time came down to one single moment that everyone was waiting for.

It wasn’t his proposal for the electoral law. The ship has sailed on that. It wasn’t about when he would come back to the country. We all know it will be soon as elections are starting to knock on our doors. Many tuned in to see how the man would look like after all this time. Many were surprised to find his speech flowing smoothly. Many, such as myself, were not impressed with the quality of the discourse.

But we can all agree that Saad Hariri shined when the moment called for it.

I am not usually a fan of Mr. Hariri’s antics. But I must give the man credit where credit is due. Because the moment was, by Lebanese standards, historic.

Saad Hariri did the following:

  • He defied his sect’s religious reference and that ridiculous fatwa barring any politician from supporting civil marriage under the threat of apostasy.
  • He went against the majority of his base by supporting a marriage that they are against.
  • He became the first major Sunni leader to come out in support of civil marriage, breaking a taboo among the Muslim ruling class of Lebanon by advocating for something that goes beyond Islam.

That wasn’t enough for some Lebanese. The moment Saad Hariri supported civil marriage, they accused him of doing so for electoral purposes. Color me confused but how is defying your entire voting base on a crucial issue such as this beneficial electorally? This is courage that I haven’t seen in a Lebanese politician in a long, long time.

But I digress.

I, as a Lebanese first and foremost, am proud of the stance that Saad Hariri took regarding the issue of civil marriage. I, as a Lebanese Christian, am happy that this non-Christian leader sees beyond the scope of his sect that some of my “Christian” leaders are failing to do while whoring around my supposed rights in the process.

When asked the question of whether I wanted Saad Hariri to be back as prime minister, I answered no. Today, he forced me to reconsider. Why wouldn’t I with his newly found mentality?

Saad Hariri just did what his father was too afraid to do. What Najib Mikati was too afraid to do a few days ago. And he’s proudly welcomed today in the Lebanese circle of kuffar.

Saad Hariri To Be On Kalam Ennas on January 31st

Saad Hariri

Lebanon’s most famous invisible/disappeared man is preparing a comeback. And it starts in 10 days.

Marcel Ghanem’s TV show on LBC will be the first political talk show in months (maybe even a year) to host the former prime minister of the country and the head of one of its largest parties who left the country soon after the January 2011 coup not to be heard of or seen again.

Don’t worry though – Saad Hariri wasn’t in grave danger in his self-exile in Paris, unless you count that broken leg skiing on the French (or was it Swiss?) Alps. Throughout the past two years, Hariri has gradually but surely decreased his presence all around even on Twitter following not one (click here) but two (click here) gaffs on social media.

Either way, the episode should be quite interesting. I, for one, hope it wasn’t part of an exclusive deal aiming to get viewers without tackling any serious questions. With the tricky situation the country is going through, Marcel Ghanem better be ready to grill Saad Hariri about what he has been up to these past two years and what he intends to do in the coming months.

I’m sure everyone wants to know.

Will you be watching? The whole country will.

Now Lebanon Censored… By Saad Hariri

Beirut Spring has just reported that a Now Lebanon article criticizing Saad Hariri and praising Najib Mikati has been pulled offline by the website. You can check out a screenshot of the article here.

If you’re interested in reading it, here’s a transcript (via Qifa Nabki):

The Baby and the Bathwater

If we are to believe a report in al-Joumhouria newspaper on Monday, French President François Hollande and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, in a meeting also attended by former Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri, will not back current Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati if a new government is formed.

Do the Lebanese not have a say in any of this? We should worry at the carefree way in which Lebanon’s future is always being decided by outside actors, no matter who they are. The region is already polarized between the Sunni and Shiite communities in a dangerous standoff between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Such horse-trading will only serve to entrench further the sense that foreign powers control Lebanon’s destiny and that each side of the political divide is justified in having its regional backer.

Another worrying aspect was the presence of Hariri, a man who must surely concede that his role in Lebanese political life must now be confined to the margins of Sunni politics. He is living in LaLa Land if he still feels that the Lebanese public would welcome him back with open arms and see him as their salvation. In fact, it would be scandalous if he stood for parliament in the next general elections, let alone offer himself as a candidate for the premiership. (Ditto Nayla Tueni and the rest of the absentee MPs who, by their negligence, have done their best to snuff out the flame that was March 14 and insult the intelligence of the voters who sent them to Najmeh Square).

For it is not enough to simply oppose March 8’s fiendish agenda and make all the right noises about democracy, independence, sovereignty and the sanctity of the state. March 14 members must also take seriously their roles as public servants. The recent deterioration of infrastructure and the apparent collapse of law and order during August have woken up the public to the fact that if they want a functioning, safe, peaceful and prosperous country, and if they want laws enacted, it will not happen if the people they elect to achieve these ends are nowhere to be seen.

Which brings us back to the issue of Miqati and his suitability for the premiership. When he accepted to lead the Hezbollah-dominated government in the spring of 2011, many saw him as an opportunist who would trade what was left of Lebanon’s integrity for a place in the history books.

In reality and with hindsight, he has not done a terrible job. He has advanced the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (despite the Syrian dream of killing the process altogether) and spoken out against Syrian violations of Lebanese territorial integrity.Given the fact that he has had to work with a cabinet of which Hezbollah and its obstructionist allies in the FPM are a part, he has made a decent fist of holding things together.

Hollande and the rest of the international community are right to condemn the current government, which has set new standards in uselessness, but we should avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater. With the exception of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Miqati is arguably the best candidate we have to lead this country in troubled times.In the meantime, the Lebanese must fight to wrestle their destiny from the hands of those who see Lebanon as a strategic asset instead of a sovereign nation, and all our MPs, without exception, should show up for work.

Saad Hariri, it seems, cannot take criticism. Especially when it’s coupled with praise to his political adversary, which is beyond disgraceful. It seems that Saad Hariri is so worried about his political tenure, all the way from his Parisian lala land (be careful of the cold dear MP, I heard it’s quite chilly this time of year) that he pulled his strings all the way to Lebanon in order to pull the article off a website in which he has influence.

The fact that Saad Hariri cannot take criticism is beyond worrying. It’s also very childish. It’s akin to one of those impertinent children who run to their mothers whenever those “bad kids” on the playground don’t let them play. And this type of behavior is certainly not acceptable from the proclaimed political leader of one of Lebanon’s main parties.

The sad thing though is that this doesn’t only apply to Saad Hariri. Each and every Lebanese politician is off limits by some platform or the other – and what remains, at the end of the day, is an electorate who’s limited by the narrow political opinion it gets from websites that are censored by the politicians it thinks are the best of the best.

And they all run to their mothers crying. They seem to be missing one key element though: good luck silencing the internet.


The article is back up (here) with the following disclaimer:

Disclaimer: NOW Lebanon has intentionally removed this article from the site. It was not removed because of censorship, but rather because of the lack of proper arguments. We would like to repeat, again, that NOW is not owned, in whole or in part, by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, nor any other political party or figure.

Yeah, right. Such “justifications” are an insult to Now Lebanon’s reader’s intelligence.

Saad Hariri and Twitter: A Story Filled With Mistakes

When Saad Hariri first went on Twitter, many were hoping he’d use the platform productively to enhance his political career, which has been sitting on the back burner for the past few months as he globe-trotted his away around everywhere except Lebanon.

But a series of mistakes, the last two of which are only a few of days apart, have gotten many – myself included – to wonder whether it was really wise for Mr. Hariri to join the social networking platform.

In January, Hariri said good morning to an Israeli government spokesperson. Either he didn’t know who that person is or he knew and still said good morning, which in both cases is worrying: the former because it shows a certain political ignorance; the latter because it would open a Pandora’s box that Lebanon is obviously not ready for.

On May 10th, Hariri got into a useless Twitter debacle with a brainwashed pro-FPM twitter user who has been constantly barraging him. The aim of the anti-Hariri person was clear: to provoke the former prime minister. Hariri caved in. However, instead of replying in a way that a former prime minster should, Hariri’s reply was straight out of a teenager’s handbook. Of course, were more than happy to flaunt this around, useless as they may be as a news-website.

On May 13th, soon after the Tripoli events erupted, a Twitter user had the following conversation with Saad Hariri:

Not only is Mr. Hariri’s argument non-sensical, but it’s also offensive to every single Lebanese who has been killed or assassinated before his father and after him. I wrote on February 14th about how the memory of that day is being milked into nothingness. This only supports my idea.

Does Rafic Hariri’s murder have anything to do with the events taking place in Tripoli? Absolutely not. Is it honorable to bring in Rafic Hariri’s memory – regardless of what you thought of him – into this debate? Of course not. Does it make up a remotely acceptable argument or reply? Definitely not.

I know many people who are disappointed by the way Hariri is handling things on the ground and more tangibly on Twitter. This only serves to reinforce that. Some have even said they’ve lost their respect for the man. While I haven’t reached that extent yet, Saad Hariri is getting dangerously close. Whenever he pretends as if Rafic Hariri is the only person to be assassinated in Lebanon, I boil on the inside. I think about the many people who have died before him, starting with presidents to students, and the many journalists and politicians that died after him, leading up to the many that lost their lives in various Tripoli-related events, culminating in today’s turmoils. Then I ask myself: if a politician thinks the blood of his father is more precious than the collective of lives that have been lost in the same fight his father died for, how can I trust such a politician to run my country? How can I trust him to keep a level-head, even if it’s just a twitter conversation?

I believe Mr. Hariri’s stay outside the country has gotten very out of sync with Lebanon and it shows on Twitter not only through his replies but through his stances. Tripoli is a city where Hariri has many voters, most of whom he will need in a year to win, and he is supporting the people who are wrecking the city just to free up one man. By not condemning the salafists, the head of the moderate Sunni party in Lebanon is supporting them. If that’s not a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is.

Perhaps Hariri should hire a PR team to run his social media presence. It would save both himself and his supporters some trouble by doing what other Lebanese politicians do. However, if he insits he wants to keep his interaction with the people going he needs to learn to double check any response he sends out on various levels: political correctness, appropriateness and most importantly whether it befits someone of his status.