The Shadi Mawlawi Lesson for Lebanon

For all matters and purposes, Mawlawi is irrelevant. In a few weeks, he will only be remembered as the man who was important some time ago. But for his followers, Mawlawi represented a cause, a reason to fight and stand up to a state they hardly consider their own.

Arrested last week, the salafists got into fights that led to destruction and chaos amounting to millions of dollars. Mawlawi got bailed out yesterday for $300. His release was celebrated in the streets of Tripoli: the return of the savior, the hero, the “messiah” of the salafists, the one who represents their struggle.

Mawlawi’s release has showed the salafists what they can do. It showed everyone what can be done to get what you want. Induce chaos. Start havoc. Block the streets. Burn tires. Kill people. Bomb buildings.

The government? It will cave.

The army? Too weak to retaliate.

The ISF? Too involved to be relevant.

Political leaders? Their influence is waning.

Shadi Mawlawi’s release has showed an inherent flaw in the design of Lebanon. There is no state. This is a farm of “people” grouped together. The toughest “person” who can get the others to cower the most for a specific period of time rules.

One of the many diseases in Lebanon is the “Shadi Mawlawi” disease. It exists in many sects and political parties: people who rise from zero to hero in the matter of seconds, who manage to rally the masses behind a “cause,” who get the masses to die for that “cause” and who end up burning the country for a matter that is irrelevant.

There are too many Mawlawis  in Lebanon to count, too many people above any consideration, above any law, above any form of government, above any form of civility. Shadi Mawlawi, Samir el Kentar, the airport officer who led to the May 2008 events, the Islamists of Nahr el Bered…

And then there are those who are taken by the Mawlawis of Lebanon and who believe burning tires is the best solution to get your voice across. The sad thing is they are getting results. It is here that I reiterate the question I asked yesterday: in a country of savagery, is civility the best option for  self-preservation?

“Hay balad? hay mesh balad… hay shellet 3alam. Majmou3in? La2. Madroubin? La2. Ma2soumin? La2. Matrou7in? La2. Oum fout nam w sir 7lam enno baladna saret balad.” – Ziad el Rahbani.

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.

Children Fighters in Lebanon? Yes, Please.

The kevlar vest is strapped. The mask is on. The riffle is on his side. His voice hasn’t even cracked yet.

I never thought I’d see such a thing in Lebanon. I thought that, despite the poverty in some regions, such a thing was impossible to happen. I guess I was optimistic to the point of foolishness.

The boy stands tall, proud of what he’s doing. This is perhaps the most troubling thing about the events taking place in Tripoli.

Brainwashed? Yes.

Brain-fried? Yes.

Brain-dead? Yes.

Does this little boy have a future ahead? Perhaps. But his chances are decreasing with every bullet he fires out of the riffle. And with three people dead in Tripoli so far, I guess those chances are very slim now.

If this is not enough reason to quickly and overwhelmingly contain the extremists in Tripoli, I don’t know what is.

The Reforms in Egypt: Farewell Intercourse Law

Instead of working towards limiting poverty, enhancing literacy and moving towards a more democratic state, some of the men of Egypt’s new Islamist-led parliament are busy securing the well-being and happiness of their genitals. No, I’m not kidding.

Even the articles discrediting this as a rumor had to admit that some MPs discussed the proposals.

An Egyptian MP was seen talking about a proposal for something called farewell intercourse. What is that you ask? Well, if you have a sensitive stomach, I advise you to stop reading now. If not, then proceed.

Farewell intercourse allows a man to have sex with his deceased wife, six hours after her death.

The whole idea for this farewell intercourse started with Moroccan cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari who got to the conclusion that is should be allowed. He also figured that women should be allowed to use water bottles, cucumbers and other types of tools in order to seek sexual gratification. No, I’m not kidding as well. He made it into a fatwa.

The story doesn’t end here.

On top of that law, there’s another ratification that might be proposed by the Salafists, which is to let Egyptian men marry 14 year old girls. You know, because their country isn’t already overly populated and overly impoverished and overly illiterate.

Even if this whole thing turns out to be a rumor, which I pray to God it is, you cannot but wonder how such a thing got a hold and stuck with people. It’s a mere reflection of what people think the Egyptian parliament is capable of doing, which is really sad. And if one of those two proposals passes into law (the second one being more probable than the first one, obviously), how will the women of Egypt react?

Odds are there’s not much they can do.