The Lebanese Electoral Law No One’s Talking About

Orthodox law here, orthodox law there. It’s all about the Orthodox law and the myth of its improvement of “representation.”
In the very narrow sense of things, the Orthodox Law makes sense given what the country is all about. Those who suddenly woke up and panicked about the law being sectarian: where were you living exactly?
You may not like what that sense is and you may be absolutely in love with it. In broader terms, however, the Orthodox Law is a disaster – not because it “improves” Christian power as some claim it will, but because it doesn’t really tackle the foundation of the issue which necessitated such a law to be present in the first place.

The problem with Christian representation in its current form in parliament is the following: democracy.

Let’s examine 3 different scenarios.

Caza A: has 40,000 Shiite voter and 60,000 Christian voter. Christians usually vote 50-50 between both politics camps. Shiite voters vote with about 90% for one camp. Half of the Christian voters feel their voice has been stripped.

Caza B: has 40,000 Druze voter and 60,000 Christian voter. Christian votes get divided almost equally. Druze votes are beyond one-sided. The Druze voter has now chosen for the Christian voter.

Caza C: 40,000 Sunni voter and 60,000 Christian voter. Repeat same scenario as in A or B.

The above scenarios are in play in Lebanon today in several districts of which I note:
– Aley: has 50,000 Christian voter who, the propaganda, goes cannot choose their own MP because of the Druze majority.
– Jbeil: has 10,000 Shiite voter whose votes make the election result look very lopsided while it isn’t.
– Zahle: A sizable Sunni population was key in the victory of whoever won in that area.

Don’t worry, I am not defending the Orthodox Law’s premise. The above examples are to illustrate the following:
The “problem” in Lebanon today isn’t that Christians are too few demographically or that they are given a greater voice in parliament than they should have or that their only solution is for a separation from everyone else in choosing their representatives. It is that there is a true democratic condition among Christian communities which is beyond nonexistent in all of the other sects in the country – and any electoral law which doesn’t lead to the growth of an opposition to the key leaders of each of the landslide-sects is not a law which can actually be used for a sustainable development of Lebanese society. This is nowhere near guaranteed with a law such as the Orthodox Law or any of the laws currently discussed.

Another major shortcoming that politicians seem to ignore in order to communicate the rhetoric of “defending Christian rights” is the following: how is it logical and acceptable for a Maronite voter in Akkar to vote for a Maronite MP in the deep end of the South? How can they fathom it is a “right” for the Sunni in Saida to vote for the Sunni MP of Tripoli? How is it logical for the Shiite in Tyre to vote for the Shiite MP of Hermel?

But there is a law that takes in consideration both regions and proper representation. It is a law which is not even discussed around the round tables of our MPs as they fight over their prospective seats in parliament: individual districts (El daweyer l fardiye): voters can vote for one MP in a small district of a few thousand voters.

To illustrate this, let’s examine a real life example: my district, Batroun, which has only two MPs – one of the fewest per district in Lebanon.

If my entire district is considered as only one electoral circumscription, the results are pretty well known: the current MPs will be re-elected. The votes coming in from the Mountains overtake whatever votes are coming from the Coast. If any third party candidate wants to run, they have to communicate their message – or try to at least – to over 60,000 voter. And parties rule by having a sizable base spread across the district which can vote for whichever candidate their party endorses.
Now with individual electoral districts, my district is split in half corresponding to each of the MPs it gets. The lesser number of voters per district means higher effect for those whose votes bordered on the irrelevant in a bigger district: the 1000 Sunni vote of Rasenhash and the 500 Shiite vote in Rashkida become something that whoever wants to run needs to win in order to have a chance at winning. By lessening the number of potential voters, any third party candidate will also have a higher chance at communicating their message to the voters. Instead of having an Antoine Zahra-Gebran Bassil face off in the coast and a Boutros Harb-Whatever face off in the mountains, we could have a three-way race with a viable alternative candidate. Said candidate may not win but at least people would have another option to vote for and express their disappointment with the current political establishment.
By decreasing the overall number of voters per circumscription, the bulk-voting effect of political parties is also decreased.

This electoral model, when applied to bigger and more diverse districts, leads to a more substantial weight for minorities, less effect for political parties and a room for centrists to take office.

Individual electoral districts, however, will never see the light of the day for the following reasons:
– It decreases Hezbollah’s influence by cutting his bases into pieces.
– Can you imagine the seizure Jumblat will have if this law is proposed and he won’t be able to get every single Druze seat in the Lebanese Republic? The only law he accepts is the law everyone refuses. They call this in Lebanese slang: “7ajar el dema.”
– The Future Movement will also lose a few MPs because of a decreased effect of the voters which constitute his base and an increased power of those who don’t.

The individual districts electoral law means that the current political establishment receives a drastic makeover. Do any of our politicians want this? Absolutely not. They preach about change, reform, proper representation. But anything that doesn’t bring them back to power with absolute certainty isn’t something they can accept.

True representation isn’t, in my opinion, sects voting for themselves and themselves alone. If Maronites vote for Maronites alone, how can we expect to accept Sunnis and Shiites voting for the president? If Sunnis vote for Sunnis alone, then why should the Christians and Shiites vote for the prime minister? If Shiites vote for Shiites alone, why should Christians and Sunnis vote for the speaker of the house?

A Maronite MP isn’t an MP that represents Maronites only. He is an MP who represents the voters of the district he comes from in order to transcend that and become a representative of the entire country and as such, it is shameful that an MP of a given sect who has to represent everyone has no chance of getting the votes of the other part of the country which he/she should represent.

Our votes as Lebanese of different sects are not and should not be confined to the sects that we are born into. It is saddening that some people want to summarize us with whatever’s written in the sect box of our IDs and are beyond convinced with this.

I refuse to be just another Maronite number.

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Insulting The Maronite Patriarch

I don’t believe Bechara al Raï’s visit to Syria was the devil incarnated as many seem to believe. He simply went there to hold Mass, believing his visit would actually get the Maronites of Syria to relax about their future. But it’s not all peachy. His visit is most probably not on his own accord. Odds are the Vatican had requested he visit Syria but I think Al Raï was more than itching to go down in history as the first Maronite Patriarch to visit Syria post Lebanon’s independence. The visit, in my opinion, is absolutely miscalculated and, if anything, showcases a seriously short foresight on his behalf as well – one that a person in his tenure should not have. Al Raï was simply too limited to see the repercussions of such a visit. The hidden meaning is far more serious than it being a simple religious visit.

The Syrian regime has, over more than 20 years, systematically persecuted the Maronites of Lebanon, be it politically or demographically or even socially. The Maronite Church stood against the regime countless times, effectively being the first catalyst that led to the regime’s army departing from Lebanon on April 26th, 2005. Bechara Al Raï’s stances have been far removed from the Maronite Church’s historical views towards the Assad regime. But how can a patriarch truly expect the first Maronite Patriarchal visit to Syria since 1943 be considered as a shallow affair of prayer seeing as it is visiting the country of a regime who did what it did to Lebanon’s Maronites? His visit was not to the regime, granted. But in a way, it is by extension. The Maronites of Syria sure deserve their patriarch to visit them – but not under current circumstances. The argument that Maronites all around the world deserve a patriarchal visit is something that the patriarch shouldn’t even touch to justify him going to Damascus. There are also Maronites in Israel. But that part is taboo.

The Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al Raï’s visit has been, to say the least, extremely polarizing. Many were supportive of it as a step towards reaching out to the scared Maronites of Syria, few as they may be. Others were staunchly against it, characterizing the visit and its Mass as diabolical. Caricature drawings in Saudi newspapers were circulated:

Bechara el Rai Caricature Saudi newspaper Al Watan

The idea being discussed was the following: the Maronites will never do what the Sunnis did with the prophet caricatures or what the Shiites did when Hassan Nasrallah was portrayed on Basmat Watan. The argument goes that Maronites are “more civilized.”

Someone forgot to tune in during last week’s Maronite road barricades in support of the Lebanese army. So it’s not really beneath us as Maronites to block roads. After all, it is in these days.

The Caricature in Al Watan newspaper is definitely not acceptable but it’s not because it’s demeaning and offensive to Christianity. Al Watan newspaper did not, similarly to Danish newspapers, publish offensive pictures of holy Christian figures in order for the comparison between potential Maronite reactions, or lack thereof, and Muslim reactions to be valid.

Pretending as if this is the same caliber as the Muslim reactions to the prophet drawings, which in themselves were not acceptable, is quite frankly very silly. Patriarch Bechara el Raï is not Jesus. He is not a Holy person. He is a neo-politician-priest who did what many believe is a mistake. And it stops at that.

But it is not acceptable in any way whatsoever for a disgusting newspaper, Al Watan, which is published in a country like Saudi Arabia where freedom of speech does not exist, where they cannot – nor do they dare – criticize their own religious folk and their ruling class after which their country was named, where Christians are not allowed to practice their religion freely (even the Cross in the caricature was hidden), where women are kept on a leash, where liberties are suppressed and where human rights are unheard of to remotely have the right to criticize anyone in that way, let alone someone who does not affect their country in any way whatsoever.

I have to wonder, in what way does Al Raï’s visit to Syria bother Al Watan? It only shows exactly how silly that newspaper is – that they’d go after a religious figure who is probably unknown to the majority of Saudis just because he is one of the few religious figures in the region which they can attack. And it’s not because they hate Christians, as many seem to believe, which I would suppose might hold some truth. It’s because it gives them the illusion that they are free, that they can do this and face no repercussions. They thought wrong.

If this caricature had come out from a newspaper in a country known for its freedom of speech, such as Denmark – a place which dared to publish Mohammad caricatures – the discussion would have been totally different. If the pope receives such caricatures, then why not Raï? But Al Watan, with the demented theocratical country it operates in, publishing them is not and should not be tolerated. They only practice their freedom of speech when their bosses approve. When it doesn’t get on the nerves of its readers… when they address a population which lives far away in an issue that does not affect them in any way whatsoever.

They don’t dare to see that their own society has a multitude of issues that could be made into a caricature, starting with that sheikh who beat and abused his 6 year old daughter to death to the fact that women are now starting to learn how to drive after their gender has been voting for more than several decades in countries around the world. And that makes them cowards. It makes them not respectable as a publication or a newspaper or any form of media that wants to be read.

The best place for Al Watan is the trash bin.

Now let’s address our own Lebanese.

The Lebanese reactions towards the Saudi insult have not been much better although a Lebanese addressing the issue is definitely more acceptable than someone who comes from a country that doesn’t even know freedom of religion. The caricature, the visit and everything around it was milked politically like everything in the country nowadays. Anything that revolves in any way around defending Christians in this country serves as ammo for politicians from both sides to fire at each other, trying to create a firework display of Christian power to please the masses ahead of the parliamentary vote.

As the constant disk of those “bad Sunnis of Saudi Arabia attacking us poor Maronite minority in Lebanon” kept playing, some people were forgetting who was doing even worse than those Sunnis to the former patriarch Sfeir with insults that went from the belt down (“heida l batriark thayyaj” anyone?), to attacking his tenure, his position, his seat and his person. But that doesn’t count – because it’s only bad when a non-Maronite does it apparently.

You want to criticize the patriarch himself, as a person, fine by me. Feel free to criticize his political opinion, if any. Feel free to address his stance regarding social issues as much as you want. I think it’s healthy when religious figures are challenged in this country and no religious figure has probably been challenged as much as the Maronite patriarch, especially by his own people.

But there’s a minimum required respect for the seat the man occupies. The Patriarch is but a temporary filler for the head of the Maronite Church. Calling the patriarchy a patriarchy of disgrace is not acceptable. Calling the Mass that took place in Syria as diabolical is unacceptable. I am not saying religious figures – as men – are the ones that should never be criticized despite everything. I’m saying that the institutions that these figures represent have a minimum of respect that should be given to them, regardless of where you stand when it comes to the matters of faith or lack thereof.

When I read some Lebanese people calling the Maronite patriarchy a new prostitute for Al Assad, that to me – even as a non religious Maronite – is offensive because it not only attacks the patriarchy in its current form, it also attacks my forefathers of whom I cannot but be proud as they struggled through centuries of persecution against tyrants who were worse than Al Assad and I don’t mean this in the religious but in the historical sense.

Insulting the Maronite Patriarchy and patriarch is not exclusive to one sect or one political side. Everyone does it and pretends as if it’s not okay to do it. What many seem not to realize is that there’s a thin line between being critical and downright insulting, especially when it comes to such institutions, that we cross way too readily, most often on a whim. Criticizing the Maronite Church’s practices is definitely not and should never be a taboo. And I’ll be the first one to criticize some of the policies they might come up with, something which I have done many times before. However, a few questions need to be asked: did the patriarch’s visit to Syria really cause any harm among the Maronites here or there? No. Did it bruise our pride? Perhaps it did. But is that reason enough to insult the patriarchy, the patriarch and enable publications from countries that do not even know the basic concept of freedom to do the same? I hardly think so.

Lebanon Described in 1870

This seems very familiar, right?
Some things may have changed. But the crux of it all is still the same.

20120816-141132.jpg

It’s been 142 years and this still rings true. Should this sadden us? Or should this open up the eyes of those who are still blinded by the infinite quest towards national unity which will never happen?

(source)

Welcome to the republic of eternal fragmentation.

The Week I Lost Hope in Lebanon

It is a sad moment when you find out that even though you belong in your country, you simply don’t fit there. This past week had this revelation thrust upon me. I belong in Lebanon. But I do not fit.

It started with me blogging about the Batroun cocaine scandal and my parents getting inundated with phone calls for me to pull the article offline. Some of those calls had been from a high-ranking priest. Others had threatened to pull their political strings. My parents got so worried about my well-being that they couldn’t sleep that night. I had to abide. It seems that there’s a limit to what you are allowed to say even when it comes to littlest things such as writing a harmless, nameless post about an issue that’s affecting my generation. But it doesn’t stop with drugs.

Everywhere I look, I am faced with the reality of people so untouchable that the mere idea of mentioning them would make me lose sleep. I am not a coward. But it’s just the way things are. In fact, I think I am automatically limited in Lebanon to the confines of what is allowed to me simply because my father is not one of those untouchables, he doesn’t know one of them and he’s not a millionaire who can buy his way into becoming one.

As I sat pondering over this in my Achrafieh apartment, I was melting in the July heat. There was no electricity. I wasn’t put off by the fact that the three hour cycle I had gotten used to by now was being messed up. It would only be a matter of minutes. But when those minutes turned to hours and those hours started doubling, I knew something was wrong. It just couldn’t be.

The situation persisted for a day. And two. And then three. So much so that after the only 50 minutes of electricity I had gotten on one of those days, I met up with some friends for a walk around Beirut. As we wandered through Gemmayzé and then Downtown, I felt happy to see so many people happy. Perhaps alcohol-induced ignorance is really bliss.

But as we got to Downtown, a Lebanese-looking girl came up to me and said with a khaliji accent that I later realized was fake: “I want you to fuck me.” My first reflex, after the few seconds it took me to understand whatever she had said, was to reply with my Lebanese accent. She immediately lost interest. It seemed that this girl and her friend had been hunting down foreigners and khalijis in Downtown Beirut, using an improvised accent to hook them. If you’re Lebanese then odds are your coffers are empty and they wouldn’t be interested in you.

As I walked through Downtown and some very annoying people came flooding over me with their pleading for me to sit in one of their restaurants, I looked at the menus they were offering. And behold: the main dish every day for the entirety of summer is…. KABSE! Our national dish is no longer tabboule or fattoush, but Saudi Kabse. Even l’entrecote de Paris in Downtown Beirut had hookahs being offered. Would you like some apple-flavored nicotine with your French steak, sir?

Scattered around the area were ancient ruins as well, some of which had been demolished already in favor of the newer structures. Others stood defiant among restaurants, churches and mosques. I remembered the Phoenician port that was demolished and how some people thought that decision was wise. What use would the port be for tourists? Would the Khalijis like to visit the port?

Because the entirety of the country now rests upon what the khalijis may or may not like. So we give them what we expect would bring them pleasure and say screw everything that is Lebanese.

Our identity crisis didn’t stop there. Our need to please foreigners with what we think they would like doesn’t stop at the mere elements of food or ancient monuments. Our walk took us to Saifi village, a very beautiful place in Downtown Beirut. One of the shops there was selling khaliji clothes and nothing more. Because, you know, there’s nothing better-looking than for me, as a Lebanese, to wander around in one of those white robes with that thing strapped around my head.

So I left the security zone known as Downtown Beirut and went back home. And there was no electricity still. I showered with whatever water I had left using a fluorescent light that I had left charging with whatever grid-coverage my house had gotten throughout the day. And then when the lights flickered, I decided to watch the news. Somehow, a very creepy looking bearded man riding a horse (or a donkey) and making fiery statements in Saida had made national news. That man was sheikh Ahmad el Assir, an extreme Muslim cleric who has apparently decided to restore Sunni pride and honor by blocking roads and making speeches, despite the former being clearly against Islamic shari’a.

Ahmad el Assir was followed by another bipolar segment about the Maronite Patriach and another statement of his that contradicted something he had said a day or two before. Then came on his Holiness Hassan Nasrallah (because using any other prefix would get you shot) to bestow upon us his eternal wisdom. As I listened to these three men talk, each of them representing one of the country’s three main sects, I realized exactly how deep their influence runs. When Nasrallah speaks, the Shiites rise. When Ahmad el Assir shouts, the Sunnis boil and when Beshara el Raï does anything worth mentioning, the Maronites go into a frenzy.

It’s the way things are. It’s the way things have always been and will always be.

It is then that I decided to check the situation of my visa application at the French embassy for my trip during the month of August. The same notification popped up. “Wait 10 business days on average for the application to be processed.” Fine. So I decided to see if there was a possibility for the visa to be done before the 10 business days. They did say “on average.” My google searches led me to a page that listed which countries were required to have a 10 day wait for their schengen application to be processed. Lebanon is one of them, obviously. What are the other countries that Lebanon was grouped with? Let me name a few: Niger, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Rwanda, etc…. The total is 39 countries. How many of us thought we were better than those countries? I’m sure most of us did. Not for the folks in the Eurozone. The rest of the world either doesn’t need one or can have it issued in less than a day.

I don’t really care about needing a visa, although ideally I would prefer not to. But it seems my passport is so low-grade that even my visa has to go through countless bureaucratic steps. My mind then wandered to my family in the US, how they are all US citizens, with the exception of my father, and how for the simple fact that they hold that navy-blue American passport, they have much more opportunities – the simplest of which is when it comes to traveling. But I shrugged the idea off.

The following day, my friends were trying to come up with plans that involved going to the beach in Sour (Tyr). I had my reservations on the matter. For the past few months, the only thing I had heard of Sour was about restaurants serving alcohol getting bombed and liquor shops getting forcibly closed. I had started to wonder if that part of the Lebanese South was slowly getting turned into New-Tehran. And even though I had never been past Saida, my interest in visiting Tyr had gotten very minimal. My friends told me my worry was unfounded. But when the minimal concept of people being free to drink whatever they want is lost upon some individuals, what would they think of me?

“You don’t really need to drink beer on the beach in Sour.” But the question is: what if I want to?

Amid all of this, the citizens of Jal el Dib were busy throwing a tantrum. Their bridge had been demolished because it was a safety hazard and their commute time had increased by a few minutes. Totally unacceptable. What way of protest did they decide was the most suitable? Block the highway in both directions. That would teach the Lebanese something, sure. And they, of course, got what they wanted: $20 million from our tax money for them to have a bridge (or a tunnel) whose construction will create way more traffic for everyone in the year or two (or even more) it will take to finish. It’s not like this form of protest is illegal but our security forces are too cowardly to crack down upon them and open the highway. It’s apparently not my right to go to class or work but it’s their right to stop me.

And we’re also not allowed to talk about the army, the ISF or any form of people who are “protecting” the country because they are doing all of us a service. It seems that the concept of a person doing his or her job has escaped people in the country. People have forgotten that they’re paying the army, the ISF. But I digress.

“Thank you minister Sehanoui for fixing the internet!”

It’s his freaking job to fix the internet. I shouldn’t thank him for it. It’s his duty to fix whatever went wrong because he is in charge of it.

“Thank you minister Bassil for providing the $1.2 million needed for the water project in Ebrine.” That was a banner at the entrance of my hometown.

No, I don’t want to thank Bassil for using money that I had paid to fund a project that has been in the works for a few decades.

No, I don’t want to be eternally grateful to ministers and MPs who are spinning doing their job into a 2013 elections campaign.

So as I sat in one of my med school’s tutoring classes, as a practicing physician told me how I’d be lucky to get paid $400 in Lebanon after 7 years of medical school, I looked around me and saw one of my colleagues who thinks Ahmad el Assir is the best thing to come to Lebanon in a long time and then another who thinks Muslims should be eradicated from the country because they are the root of all evil and a third one who believes that Hassan Nasrallah is the undeclared return of Imam el Mehdi.

And I realized that these three people represent their societies, their families. Their convictions run way deeper than what they’ve declared. And as the realization that I do not really fit among my friends dawned on me, I remembered that girl from downtown, my electricity situation at home, my crappy cellular coverage, my lack of water availability at home, the deafening traffic, the people who can move mountains, figuratively, with a flick of their finger; the people who can block roads and not face any resistance; the people who honk until your ears bleed because you stopped at a red light; the people who cannot stand to grab their kleenex for a few minutes so they throw it outside their cars without caring; the people who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about our national heritage… And the list goes on and on.

I realized I have pitiful job prospects in a country of no national pride, no national unity, no electricity, no water, no internet, no security and – for the first time – no hope whatsoever.

Can we nag? Sure. Would that lead anywhere? No. Can we talk about it? Sure. Would that get us anywhere? No. Can we do something about it? Perhaps. Would that change things? No.

We’re in a ditch that we cannot escape, change or alter. And they wonder why we look West in envy. What 2012 has shown over and over again is that the situation is hopeless. We thought we had learned from May 7th, 2008. And then many mini-May 7th took place in the space of a few weeks. We thought we had learned not to get swept by enticing political rhetoric. It only takes a leader a sentence to get his followers on or off the streets.

I know I had said before not to take Lebanon lightly. But I believe that we get the country that we think we deserve. The sad reality is that the collective of the Lebanese population thinks they deserve shit. And shit is what they’re getting.

Don’t Blame The Lebanese Sunnis – Blame What Got Them Here

Picture via Annahar

It’s very easy for Lebanese to get carried away. They do it way too often and way too dramatically. On the other hand, it only lasts for about a brief period before they move on from that theatrical moment.

The latest Lebanese moment has been going on for more than a week now but it’s escalating. Some Lebanese have taken it to the next level by proclaiming that another civil war is upon us. Blame the short memory span for this – they seem to have forgotten worse has happened on May 7th, 2008 and we still got out of it. They seem to have forgotten a very similar thing took place on January 2011 when Hariri’s government was toppled. A reminder should be in order, just in case.

So today blaming the Sunnis for the situation in the country has become the way to go – how better are they than those who burned Beirut on May 7th, 2008? What’s the whole purpose behind burning tires and closing roads?

The answer is simple. Anger.

The Sunnis of Lebanon are angry. They are angry because:

  1. The prime minister who supposedly represents their sect doesn’t do so one bit.
  2. The political leader who realistically represents their sect is nowhere to be found. He’s possibly eating croissant in Paris, lecturing via twitter – and not doing a good job at that as well.
  3. How the person mentioned in 2 went out of power and the person mentioned in 1 got to power is due to a threat by their fellow Muslims, Hezbollah, who threatened to use weapons – and burn Beirut again – in case their demands aren’t met.
  4. Prominent Sunni figures get killed, the latest is Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahid in Akkar, and they can’t do anything but watch the news as a response.
  5. Their image, especially in Lebanon, has been distorted to showcase them all as a bunch of Salafists who want nothing but to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon. The fact that Salafists are irrelevant politically in the Sunni community has escaped some people who just love to carry the idea around and shout it from any platform they can get.
  6. With every passing day, their position as one of the main sects in the country is being compromised. Think the Maronites in the 1970s. Wouldn’t you be worried?

As a reflex anger response to the killing of the Sheikh, the Sunnis have taken it to the streets. They are closing roads and burning tires, which is the maximum they can do. It still beats doing worse just because the government threatened to remove an officer from the airport. Whether you want to admit it or not, they don’t have the weapons arsenal that Hezbollah possesses. The amount of destruction they can do is far less reaching and disastrous. But who cares, right?

BeirutSpring has described how the protests are coming off to Lebanese people and he hit the nail on the head:

But their protests, even if cathartic, are creating three big headaches for their community:

  1. They are angering the rest of the Lebanese by inconveniencing them and reminding them of the war. Sunnis are coming across as irresponsible and dangerous.
  2. They are not achieving anything. Even if the point was to establish deterrence (to make others think twice before upsetting the Sunnis), it’s not working. It’s just a loud and costly tantrum.
  3. They are establishing a reputation that the Sunnis are an excitable bunch that can easily be provoked.

But here’s why the way the Lebanese population is responding cannot but be hypocritical at best.

  1. Why wasn’t the anger at what’s happening today also present back in May 2008? Because when some sects and parties burn down Beirut, it’s because they are fighting Israel, when others do so it’s because they are fighting Lebanese. You gotta love Lebanese logic.
  2. On the long run, they aren’t achieving anything because this type of action gets you nowhere. The Sunnis have done something very similar last January. Did that get them anywhere? No. In fact, I’ve heard many ridiculing their “day of anger.” The sentences I’ve heard? “They should come to us to teach them how to be angry.” I suppose you can tell who’s meant by “us.”
  3. In a country where a fragile peace is kept by miraculous measures, where the situation is like a yoyo rocking backwards and forwards between peace and no peace, I think the Sunnis have shown lots of restraint especially with everything they’ve been dealt. If they want to be portrayed as an excitable bunch, what does that say about those who get excited because of much less and react much much more than this?

Am I with what the Sunnis are doing? No. I’m against all forms of violence because they lead nowhere except springing more fear and hate. But is the panic about the situation justified? Definitely not. It has happened before in Lebanon and it will happen again as long as not everyone in the country is on equal footing. Is the judgement against those protesting justified? Perhaps so. After all, you can’t but look down on burning tires and blocking roads. But people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Developing thick skin for all sects is needed. Some have it more than others. But in a country where the major player doesn’t have skin, how is skin thickening for everyone else remotely possible?

Ahmad Kataya: A Lebanese Muslim Sheikh on a Lebanese Woman Converting to Christianity… Sorcery

This is disgusting. This is disturbing. This is mortifying. This is despicable. This is nauseating. This is degrading. This is atrocious. This is an abomination. This is an intellectual insult.

The girl in question was abused by her father and escaped from her house. A priest named Walid Gharious took her in and helped her get back on her feet. She decided to convert to Christianity and fulfilled that decision a few days ago.

Father Walid Gharious was kidnapped as a result, only to be released a few hours later.

Did security forces care? I doubt. And even if they did, I’m sure they have no power over those who could fathom kidnapping a priest because he baptized someone of their denomination. You know, because what matters here is “the dignity of the Shiite sect” – I am quoting Ahmad Kataya, a Shiite sheikh who believes this dignity rests on breaking the Christian spell the girl was put under.

Bye bye sanity. Hello Harry Potter…. Lebanon style.

I feel offended. I feel ashamed that such a person is allowed to preach anything in my country. I feel ashamed that this person finds a person choosing a religion is offending him personally. I find it offensive that this creature finds someone exercising their right for the freedom of religion is something close to sorcery.

Who knew it? Hogwarts exists! It exists in Lebanese monasteries. It exists in Lebanese convents. What’s the main function of those convents? Put spells on Muslims to convert them. The kidnapped father is the master sorcerer. Let’s call him Dumbledore instead of Gharious. It’s only fitting after all. His main vessel for spells? Tele Lumiere. I always knew there was something fishy about that station.

Kataya also attacked the president personally. Can we apply the law that says this is not allowed? I’d be one happy person if it happened. Just this once. But wait, that law is only applied on helpless citizens who don’t have the backing of militias and medievalish tribes.

Dark ages to Mr. Kataya, over.

Moussa el Sader is Dead. Officially?


For years, supporters of Shiite imam Moussa el Sader had hoped he’d still be alive more than thirty three years after he went missing in Libya on August 31st, 1978.
Al Akhbar is reporting today that documents received by Lebanese government from Libya confirm that Moussa el Sader had died at the beginning of the previous decade due to diabetes complications.

In more details, the imam was taken to the Abou Slim prison in 1997 where he was put in solitary confinement. He started experiencing ailments because of his diabetes but his guards refused to give him treatment. As a result, the imam died soon after.

Al Qaddafi refused to have him buried. So he turned his cell into a fridge, akin to the one used in morgues, and guards were set up for the cell for more than a decade – until the recent Libyan revolution started.
On August 22nd, 2011 when Tripoli fell to the rebels, the Abou Slim prison was heavily bombarded. Moussa el Sader’s cell was destroyed as a result of the bombing and his body was subsequently taken out, along with the other dead people.
Some had reported seeing a man’s body with a cloak and turban being taken out of the premises.

Current efforts to search for the body are underway. The most plausible of scenarios is that the bodies taken out of the Abou Slim prison were buried at known locations due to their rapid decomposition. These sites will be soon excavated to maybe find the body of the imam and return it to Lebanon.

Moussa el Sader founded the political movement “Amal.” He was known for his calls for interfaith dialogue and his constant championing for co-existence among all Lebanese factions.
It’s sad to see his ideology so distorted by the current form of the political movement he started.

Many of us were more than certain the imam was dead. But it is only natural for people to seek closure. Hopefully the certainty of his death brings that to those who need it.