Syrian AUB Students Protesting For Gaza… Silenced and Beaten Up

The students who left their conflict-torn home in Syria to come get the best education in the region at AUB never thought they’d be silenced in a country which sports itself to be the beacon of free speech in the Near East at a university whose charter boasts about the importance of freedom especially that of speech.

Some AUB students gathered on Monday in support for the Palestinians of Gaza. The sit-in was organized by the Secular Club, the Palestinian Club and the Civil Welfare Club, which is the club of the SSNP at AUB. The protesters were joined by Syrian students from the AUB community who wanted to express their sympathy towards Gaza. A lot of them also happen to be members of the Secular Club.

The protestors held up banners. They shouted against the atrocities taking place in that sector of living hell. They shouted for ears that will not listen, hoping in vain that they do. “The people want freedom.” The students were talking about the freedom of the people in Gaza.

But it wasn’t understood that way.

The freedom that those students sought in AUB and which they thought they had was narrowed down by the narrow-minded hypocrisy of some of AUB’s political parties, representing the agenda of their national bigger heads, to what they believe speech should be about.

Some SSNP students, who were part of the protest, took it upon them when they saw the posters that those Syrian students held to make sure they were silenced for drawing similarities between their struggles as Syrians and the struggles of the people in Gaza… because the posters offended them. “Freedom blowing from Houran to Gaza” offended them. A poster from Deir el Zour offended them. Mentioning the Palestinians of Syria’s refugee camps bothered them. So they tore the posters off. And they beat up one guy and threatened others and ganged a professor whom they knew was with the Syrian revolution because they saw them as a provocation.

Some of the students are still receiving threats today. The same people who threatened a friend yesterday followed him around AUB today… up to the cab that was taking him home where they started shouting and tried to assault him. How longer should AUB students be forced to tolerate the hypocritical stupidity of others who believe only their version of the truth goes?

I don’t know the absolute truth about the politics of it all. I don’t pretend to. But neither do they. I do not think about zionist plans for the region when I think about the situation in Syria. But I don’t mind if they do. I do mind though that they have no problem with people getting killed when it works with their political agenda but have no issue whatsoever with others getting killed just because it serves a purpose they believe is righteous.

Those students seem more knowledgeable about the struggles of the Syrians than the Syrians and they sure as hell know more about the daily struggles of Palestinians than the Palestinians themselves.

Syrians at AUB today are not allowed to speak about the atrocities taking place in their own home without a Lebanese silencing them. They are not allowed to express sympathy stemming from their own struggles towards a place that they can identify with more than others.

Some people may not agree with what those Syrians and Palestinians have to say but they have every right as people first and foremost and as AUB students second to say it especially inside their own campus.

The security personnel at AUB, which is usually very active in stopping such quarrels, didn’t bother. The IDs of students, typically taken in similar scenarios, were never demanded here. The AUB administration which approved the rally that took place within its campus has to take disciplinary measures against those who believe they are above reproach. It is beyond vital for those who think they can silence others this way to face consequences for their mindless actions. It is beyond important for the AUB administration to let the students who were silenced that they care about restoring their voices.

The Kourah July 2012 By-elections: What It Is & What It Isn’t

In about 7 hours, the citizens of the Northern caza “El Kourah” will head to the polls to choose between basically two candidates: Walid el Azar (SSNP) and Fadi Karam (LF) to replace Farid Habib (LF) who died back in May.

This isn’t the first time I write about this issue. A previous post of mine dealt with the SSNP’s serious lack of understanding of the basic elements of the democratic game with them turning the whole elections into a matter of life and death only because the LF nominated someone from a place they consider as their “fortress.”

Check out that post here.

On Friday, LF leader Samir Geagea held a press conference during which he declared that voting for his candidate means voting:

– For the Lebanese state.

– For the improvement of Kourah as a caza.

– Against Bashar el Assad and his regime.

– To overthrow the Syrian regime.

And the list goes on.

Sorry Mr. Geagea but your electoral rhetoric, while enticing, is simply full of it. A person casting a ballot for Fadi Karam won’t lead to the Syrian regime crumbling. An extra MP for the LF won’t change the balance of powers in the country. It won’t lead to a brilliant future nor will it change the fortunes of the Koura Caza.

It’s understandable that political leaders need to charge up people before heading to the polls for maximum results. The sad thing is people believe this.

On the other hand, the SSNP is still beating around the same old story: the LF are threatening our existence in an area that we’ve historically been the strongest in, etc…. That is also useless.

The fact remains that the Kourah elections will not change things. It will not do anything worth mentioning except have the party that wins celebrate for a few days, declaring how the tides have “turned.”

However, the Kourah elections is an indicator of what we could expect in 2013 especially if the results are read from sect to sect. It will be an indicator for the Future Movement to see exactly how much popular support they still have and how much they have lost. It will be an indicator for Christian parties to check their popular tracking with different sects. It will serve as a platform to base 2013 electoral hopes upon.

The clearest proof to that is both Farid Mekari and Nqoula Ghosn (the caza’s other two MPs) maximizing their electoral machine’s yield to help the LF candidate. They want to prove that they exist, that they can bring out the vote and that they should have a say in what happens in 2013.

How many people will vote tomorrow fully thinking it’s a vote against the killers of Bachir Gemayel, against the allies of Bashar, against the allies of America and for their own view of the Lebanese “state”? I would assume the absolute majority. Will anything change come 2013? I hardly think so. I can imagine the slogans from now. Depending on whether the Syrian regime falls or not, they will range from votes against Bashar and the Islamic state in Lebanon to votes against the zionist agenda and against corruption.

But the truth remains that those claiming change and reform haven’t done that one bit. And those claiming fighting for freedom are as powerless as the poor Syrian children getting massacred in their homes. Who cares, though. Let’s go vote. And win. And celebrate. And live in bliss. And then realize that we’ve accomplished nothing.

Did I mention you should vote for Fadi Karam? Yeah, I get to bring out the vote as well. Shou we2fet 3laye? 

The July 2012 Kourah By-Elections: When the Concept of Democracy Escapes the SSNP

Fadi Karam posters are everywhere on the North Lebanon highway

12 days from now, the northern caza “Al Kourah” is going to have a round of elections to elect an MP to replace Farid Habib, who passed away from cancer back in May.
The build up to the elections was interesting to watch. The first question that came up on the political scene soon after the parliementary seat became vacant: would elections take place?

The LF, who had previously won the seat, decided that their party will proceed with the elections. Therefore, based on their new internal laws, consultations took place with high ranking officials of their base in Kourah and they chose Fadi Karam, a dentist and former head of the Order of dentists in North Lebanon.

Soon after Karam was chosen, the SSNP decided that this is a direct confrontation for them. Why’s that? Because Karam is from their base town Amyoun. They considered it as a direct challenge from the LF for them to nominate someone from Amioun. They, therefore, decided to have a candidate run for the Kourah elections. Not because they wanted to. But because they were “forced” to by a blatant act of defiance.

What the SSNP seems to have totally evaded is the concept of democracy. The notion that in an election people who meet certain legal criteria can run regardless of where they are from is not in the SSNP directory. I guess Antoun Saadeh missed that part in whatever party principles they are obviously not following.

I wonder, had the LF nominated someone from Dhour el Shweir, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance as well? Better yet, had the LF nominated someone from Bterram, another town in Kourah where the SSNP have great influence, wouldn’t they have considered it an act of defiance too?

Why hide behind lame excuses when you want to test the ground for the 2013 elections as much as your opponent?

The SSNP also declared that they would have had no problem letting the elections go for a win by default for a lone candidate  had the LF kept their candidate in MP Farid Habib’s family by either nominating his wife or son. Apparently they believe the seat “belongs” to that family since it was only taken from them by death.

Now I have to ask the SSNP, where was this “we respect the dead” attitude when Amin Gemayel was running against an unknown FPM candidate for the seat vacated by the assassination of his son in Metn? Or does it only apply in places where the chance of the SSNP winning are next to none?

Yes, their candidate has no chance of winning in Kourah.

Moreover, why should the concept of a seat belonging to a “family” be even a part of the discussion to begin with? The seat belongs to the citizens of Kourah. It would be a grave insult to their rights not to have the correct path of electoral democracy take place and have one candidate thrown on them forcibly just because some parties are too afraid to lose inexistant momentum a year before the 2013 parliemntary elections.

As part of their campaign, the SSNP are also busy reminding the voters of el Kourah about the LF’s militia past – about how the LF (and the LF alone) killed their sons and children way back when. Let alone the fact that this is nowhere near true (the SSNP had its fair share of atrocities done all across Lebanon and them pretending otherwise would be an a insult to voters’ intelligence), but what good does it do to bring forth into the conversation a civil war people shouldn’t even take into consideration with their votes anymore?

Does the SSNP even know that Fadi Karam was not a militant with the LF during the civil war? Do they know he rose among the ranks of the party after Samir Geagea was released from prison in 2005? Do they know he represents a rising class of LF politicians and enthusiasts who absolutely have nothing to do with the war?

Yet the SSNP is throwing a war Karam had nothing to do with on his shoulders. If you can’t beat them at the polls, beat their reputation with lies, obviously.

In a democratic country like Lebanon – regardless of what you think about this type of democracy – making a big deal out of the village a candidate was born in is unacceptable. Making a big deal of having been “forced” into elections is unacceptable. Making a big deal out of everything but the issues at hand is unacceptable.

You don’t want to run for elections? Then don’t. Don’t whine endlessly about irrelevant reasons for you deciding to run.

Come July 15th, the citizens of Kourah have such a clear choice in front of them it’s even silly to point it out. But regardless, what July 15th should and will be is a triumph for democracy and freedom over the concept of hate and cowardice.

AUB Elections: Vote Students At Work

You know what baffles me about pro-Hezbollah (and affiliates) people attending AUB? They tend to forget that it’s the AMERICAN University of Beirut.

All they do is go there and bash the American system left and right, totally ignoring that they are in the midst of what they’re criticizing. I guess the Lebanese proverb: “2e3ed b7edno w bientof bida2no” applies here. And you know what’s even sadder? The Aounists that join Hezbollah, SSNP and other political parties in their chants against the “American devil.” You’d think they would know better than to be this brainwashed.

Let’s get one thing straight: as an AUB student who graduated back in 2010, I voted three times in my university’s elections and was almost nominated twice with Students at Work. I have every reason not to want to support them but my reasons are personal and not as relevant to the greater picture. But here’s what you need to know: the amount of work any student body would put into enhancing your student life is minimal. But at least with Students at Work, you know they will actually attempt to do something and not live in the orgasm of their victory for a whole year straight.

The independents didn’t do anything as well the year they won via a political play with March 8th people, which happened to be during my junior year. Students at Work needed one more seat in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences back then, one they had relinquished in my year to leave an open list. Their list would have won if it had been fully closed.

With Students at Work, you’ll know that AUB’s Main Gate will not turn into a shouting fest where a slogan calling for the death of a major Lebanese leader is chanted and celebrating the assassination of one of our country’s most inspiring presidents. With Students at Work, Main Gate will not turn into this.

So come Wednesday and you’re standing in front of a ballot, thinking about who you need to vote for, remember that you are at the American University of Beirut because you and your parents believe this is the best education that can be provided in Lebanon today. Remember that the level of the university you’re in is not the way it is because of people whose daily habits have hypocrisy written all over them and remember that your future endeavors, soon after finishing your degree, will not take you to Iran. You’ll be going to the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and France. Don’t be a hypocrite. Vote Students at Work. It may not change your scholastic life but at least you’ll know you’re voting with the air of freedom of the institute that is providing your future.