Racist & Disgusting OTV Humiliates Syrian Man Just To Be “Funny”

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We complain about Americans voting for Trump and how that reflects on many of them looking down at minorities (it doesn’t). And somehow, we, as Lebanese, are totally oblivious to how inherently racist and disgusting many of in our midst tend to be, especially to those that we – on our Phoenician high horse – deem as lesser creatures: people of color, Syrians, other workers from Asian and African countries.

OTV did just that.

They figured it was a good idea to humiliate a Syrian man just for jokes, have him strip off his clothes, parade around with signs, while they laughed at his predicament. So funny. Ha ha. I can’t stop laughing. You are just disgusting and despicable human beings.

Keep in mind the following: Someone actually came up with the idea behind this, wrote down the scenario of the skit and thought of all the countless ways they could humiliate the Syrian in question for more than twenty fucking minutes. This is not a 5 minute sharade, but a 20 minute skit in which two men go above and beyond in taking away any ounce of dignity that person had – just because he was Syrian – and just because they were Lebanese who wanted a laugh.

Well, fuck you and fuck your laughs.

I refuse to link the video here. They do not deserve exposure. The only thing they deserve is to be told how revolting, disgusting, shameful, horrifying and nauseating they are as an institution, as a media entity, as a TV station that represents the current Lebanese president, and how their entire existence is a disgrace to every single good thing that Lebanese media has done to this country and to this region.

I hope they enjoyed the laughs, because today the only reason I smile is in the hope that whoever came up with the idea behind this skit not only loses their job but is humiliated in getting fired. I hope enough people rise up in condemnation to the disgrace that took place on that TV station that they wouldn’t dare repeat it again.

To the two men that acted out the skit and to those that came up with the idea, I refuse to be as petty and disgusting a person as you are and wish upon you the same things you did to that man. Maybe you don’t know that there is a fine limit between joke and transgressing on someone’s right, between funny and “what the fuck is wrong with you, did someone hit you on the head as a kid.” But here’s a pro tip: when you get someone to strip, have them parade around for your entertainment while you threaten them with a gun, you are no longer funny, you are a space occupying lesion that only appeals to other parasitic entities such as yourself.

This is just shameful. Lebanon, let us not accept such a thing ever happening again.

When Gebran Bassil’s Goons Don’t Understand Freedom of Speech

Breaking news: Gebran Bassil turned out to be yet another racist Lebanese politician. I have no idea how this piece of news was in any way a surprise, but over the past few days it’s almost the only thing people are talking about, apart from the fact that our phones now need Maps updates in order to skip the roads where garbage bags have started to take up lanes.

The details are as follows:

A few days ago, Gebran Bassil’s twitter account was quoting a speech he was giving in the United States to an audience of Lebanese expats ($10 says they’re voting for Trump in 49 days). In that speech, Bassil dropped the following:

The speech excerpts translate to:

  • I support giving Lebanese women who marry foreigners the right to pass on their nationality to their children but our constitution and societal fabrics don’t allow to give the Lebanese nationality to 400,000 Palestinians.
  • I support the law that allows Lebanese women to pass on their nationality to their children, with the exception of Syrians and Palestinians to maintain our land.

Of course, it has probably escaped Bassil in that moment that St. Maroun, after whom his sect was named, was Syrian and Jesus, after whom he prays, was Palestinian, but that’s besides the point. Certainly, however, Bassil wouldn’t have had a problem if those Syrians and Palestinians weren’t mostly Muslim. I wonder, how different would his statement have been had those refugees been mostly Christian like him? I can imagine him now, à la Oprah, distributing nationalities left and right: YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU ARE LEBANESE, YOU AAAAAALL ARE LEBANESE!

Context to Bassil’s tweets, however, remains important. His statements do not come from void. They emanate from a public sentiment that has only managed to gain popularity over the past few years with around 2 million Syrians seeking refuge in Lebanon. Of course, as is the case with Lebanon’s statistics, numbers do not exist. But it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that Bassil’s speech is not at odds with what the prevalent majority of Christians believes to be true, and a sizable portion of Lebanon’s Muslim community.

Yet again, the sentiment in the aforementioned denominations arise from their incessant need for self-sectarian preservation and are devoid from any national affinity towards a more global Lebanese state. Either way, I digress.

The uproar towards Bassil’s statements has been deafening. Human Rights Watch issued a statement whereby they found what he said to be abhorrent, in contradiction to the international treaties that Lebanon has signed in regards to women rights, and shameful to come from the minister of foreign affairs who is, whether we like it or not, the face of Lebanon to the world. Sorry #LiveLoveBeirut, you’re not it.

A slew of tweets and Facebook posts criticizing Bassil were also widely circulated, of which the satirical Facebook page Adeela led the forefront with a bunch of posts addressing Bassil’s tweets:

Lebanese blogger Mahmoud Ghazayel had a tweet (now deleted) in which he corrected Bassil’s statement to this:

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So far so good, right? Except this didn’t remain as just a manifestation of Lebanese online degrees of freedom because before you knew it, the situation – thanks to massive reports by Bassil’s online henchmen – became as follows:

Every single post that criticized Bassil about his racist tweets was removed because of Facebook reports, while the social media platform never bothered to check for the background upon which those reports were being filed in the first place, or the statements being criticized to begin with.

As a result, if you try and say something negative about Bassil’s statements, thousands will end up putting you in Facebook jail for at least 24 hours because you somehow violated the terms of being on that website, by simply expressing an opinion.

Maybe it’s fear of  exposing how ridiculous Bassil’s proposition – even if echoed by many – is. Maybe it’s wanting to keep his image pristine in their eyes, albeit it being irrevocably damaged in the minds of many others. Maybe it’s them wanting to keep a semblance of pride.

What Bassil’s goons seem to fail to grasp is that with every post they manage to bring down, ten more will spring up in their place. As it is their right to believe and want to defend what Bassil said, it is the right of every other Lebanese who categorically and irrevocably disagrees to not only criticize but mock those statements until kingdom come, whether they like it or not.

As the stench of garbage and filth overtakes their nares in every cubic meter of air in Beirut, as they spend countless hours without electricity, as they pray for the heavens for internet to be fast enough to load the images in this post, as they debate whether to flush or not because water is scarce, let them have all of that pride and the politicians whose image they want to keep. Let them have their “holy” land, their “better-than-thou” attitude towards anyone and anything they deem lesser. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many Facebook reports are issued, common sense will prevail.

PS: Dear Facebook, re-assess yourself, why don’t you? 

For Omran

Omran Daqneesh

I see you sitting there, at an age where your biggest woe should be whether your little toy car would beat your friend’s in an artificial race, your tiny legs barely extending beyond the ambulance seat, and you break every piece of my heart in doing so. There’s nothing more I want to see you do than sit in a swing set, using those small legs to kick the ground with all the strength you could muster to go as high as you possibly could.

With your eyes transfixed on a childhood that has been long-stolen from you, you’ve reminded the world that the war that’s becoming synonymous with your upbringing involves people too, that those numbers they see ticking up in their news feeds are not mere figures, but people who are someone’s entire world.

In that moment when you were shell-shocked at everything you’ve lost, you also shocked the world. There has been no stronger emotion. But emotions are fleeting, and they rarely cause change. You and Aylan Kurdi will become symbols, and once they move away from you, once you stop bringing them the hits, you will only remain engrained in the memory of those who care beyond the span of a news cycle.

I’m sorry you grew up Arab. I’m sorry you grew up in a region that has only known conflict, that your childhood is that of war, like the childhoods of all of your people, where you are nothing more than a number, where your tragedy and worth are only as important as the viral picture that emanates from them.

I’m sorry you grew up knowing nothing more than fragility of a status quo, where one moment everything you know is the completeness of your family, and the next everything that you know is buried in rubble, and you’re in the back of an ambulance with the only common denominator is you being alive.

I’m sorry that many only see you as a potential threat, unaware that the horrors you’re going through will leave a scar lasting beyond the attention they bestow upon you, as they go back to the confines of their safe bubble, pointing fingers at your kind, while their children are safe and sound, and will hopefully always be as such, never knowing the meaning of what it is to be in your shoes that are buried under the rubble of everything that you once knew was home.

I’m sorry you have nowhere to go. I’m sorry the places where you’d be safe are places whose people don’t want you, afraid of you talking to their children, going to their schools, breathing their air, drinking their water. I’m sorry that you’re damned if you stay, and damned if you leave. I’m sorry you live in a world where justice is as fictive as books about magic, witches and wizards.

I’m sorry that to them you’re nothing more than a meaningless pawn in their chess game.

Omran - Aylan

Because there are no words in any language that can portray the heartbreak that you’ve witnessed, as a picture of you in sheer shock makes headlines, only to get people like me shaken for a minute or two before they go about their normal daily life, and you go back to yours where you might have a second or third of fourth or thirteenth photo-op but no one to see your shell-shocked face.

Because we have failed you. As a human being, I have failed you. As human species, we have all failed you. As countries around the world, we’ve failed you.

Because you’re not supposed to be sitting in the back of an ambulance, blood streaking down one side of your face, covered in dust, not aware that in that moment you were forever changed, instead of playing with little toy guns with your siblings, in a playground somewhere, like kids your age should be doing.

Because you’re not supposed to be going viral for being traumatized and because your trauma is not supposed to be a discussion topic for us today.

Because I couldn’t hold back my tears when I saw your face while you never did.You’re precious, beautiful, important, loved and this is for you.

Victims, Not Threats: The Massacred In Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Yemen Are Not Terrorists For Hateful Rhetoric

Meet Adel Al-Jaf. He also calls himself Adel Euro, so you might know him by that. He was a rapper, a dancer and a man who tried to do the best that he could with what he had in his country. Last year, Adel said he was lucky enough to narrowly escape an explosion in Baghdad so he could dance again. This time, Adel was not as lucky.

Adel Euro Adel Al-Jaf

He is one of the 200 people in Iraq who, instead of buying Eid gifts these days as Eid el Fitr comes tomorrow, are buying coffins for their loved ones.

In the blink of an eye, an explosives-ridden van detonated itself through a busy shopping mall in Baghdad. Two hundred families, as a result, lay shattered, maimed, beyond repair, beyond the ability to heal.

It’s become way too easy to dismiss the deaths of those two hundred innocent people as just another thing that happens in *those* parts of the world, in a country (like Iraq) where suicide bombs are an every day occurrence.

But it’s not. And even if it is, the normalization of their tragedy makes the brutality of reality even more horrific. These were people, just like a regular American or European – because we all know your worth is higher the whiter your skin is – who could have been going to the Mall to buy their children and loved ones Christmas gifts.

And yet today, the Eiffel tower didn’t light up to remember them as it did yesterday to commemorate France’s victory in a football game. Even Burj el Arab, which remembered the victims of Brussels and Paris, while failing to remember the massacred of Beirut and Istanbul, couldn’t care less about the brutality of what took place less than 2 hours away. I guess keeping up with the westernized value of human lives is more befit of the image Dubai wants to give itself, so who are we to judge?

Today, those two hundred people that were brutally massacred as they went about their daily lives in Iraq are considered terrorists to be by many. The forty that died in Beirut almost 8 months ago are also considered as such. The hundreds of thousands that died and are dying in Syria are nothing but pests who have, thankfully, not encroached on the holiness of Western values, and so are the people of Yemen.

Good riddance, Donald Trump and his supporters would say. They had it coming, the far right across the world would point its finger and blurt out. And to those people, at the wake of my region being burned once again partly because of the repercussions of the actions of their people, I can’t but say: the only terrorist is you.

Sarah Sadaka, an Arab living in the United States, was going to a Best Buy store today. She went into that store speaking on her phone in Arabic, only to be circled by a woman who made it clear that her presence, her skin, her language made her uncomfortable. No one came to Sarah’s defense: she was just another sand nigger, breathing that free American air on the fourth of July. She did not deserve to have her right as a human being not to be violated that way taken away, she is, after all, only Arab.

Sarah, today, is the living embodiment of what it is to be the victim of terrorism in the United States, except this time it’s the brand championed by the likes of Donald Trump and the people with whom his rhetoric resonates.

When Omar Mateen went to a gay night club in Orlando and killed fifty people, mainstream American media only saw his name Omar as enough reason to justify his actions. He was just another Muslim. He was just another Middle Eastern offended by “our” way of life. Except Omar Mateen did not do so in the name of Islam, he did it in the name of his own insecurities, the insecurities of a man who is afraid of his own sexuality and who is so deluded in his own belief that he’d support two politically opposed factions in Hezbollah and ISIS as vindications for his action.

Omar Mateen’s characterization, and the repercussions that follow it, are a direct result of the kind of terrorism that Arabs and Muslims have to endure at the hands of people like Donald Trump, the Far Right across the world, and the minds that listen to them.

My mother tongue has become synonymous in people’s minds with death. If I speak it on a plane, I become an automatic threat, forced to undergo security checks, apprehended by officials because the words I utter from lips only resonate with fear, even if it’s to say: peace be upon you.

Victims, not threats. The more we are silent towards our murder, our decimation, and our characterization as people who do not deserve to live, the more we perpetuate the notion that people who think of Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners and those that live in the area are worth nothing is true. The more we are subdued in not demanding our deaths be remembered, be proclaimed, be cared for, the more our inherent value slips even further, even less than it already is, down an abyss in which the least valuable lives on this planet are Arab lives.

I should not be living in a world where I need to convince a friend of mine not to name his son Abdul Rahman because the name is “too Muslim.” I should not be living in a world where I have to defend myself at my own funeral. I should not be living in a world where the deaths of two hundred Iraqis is considered as just another bleb on the evening news, as they are just a waste of space.

We are people too, and we are worthy of life, one in which two hundred of us do not die at a mall buying new clothes for their children. We are victims, not threats.

 

 

This is Aleppo: In A World Where Doctors Have Become Martyrs & Hospitals Battlegrounds

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Tucked in the lower floor of a building was Al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, Syria, a small 34 bed facility in the Sukkari neighborhood. Its windows and entrance were fortified with mostly sandbags for extra protection despite the many buildings around it that, in theory, protected it from being attacked.

The hospital was not a rebel-run hospital, despite it existing in a rebel-controlled neighborhood. It was a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and International Red Cross affiliated institution with an emergency room and an 8 bed pediatrics ward. It was as fully equipped as a hospital in times of war could be.

In the rules of warfare, horrifying as such a notion’s existence is, and as dictated by multiple conventions, notably the Geneva ones, attacks on medical institutions by any side of a conflict is considered a severe violation.

A few hours ago, a fighter jet, flying at low altitude, charged a missile through Al-Quds hospital, to the background of a Syrian citizen being killed every 25 minutes over the past 48 hours.

The jet in question was commissioned by the conjoined Assad-Putin forces trying to reclaim their hegemony over Syria, despite what some anti-resistance news outlets would want you to believe, with them taking videos of the government forces attacking and portraying them as resistance fighters doing so.

The above picture is that of Dr. Muhammad Waseem Maaz. He was a man who spent most of his adult life finishing medical school, and then specializing in pediatrics, before spending his days doing the most self-less thing that any man, especially a physician could do, leave his family behind in Turkey while he helped the ailing children in Aleppo. Al-Quds was the hospital where he worked. Aleppo was the city he called home, the city that is now being ravaged by regime forces. He was the last pediatrician in Aleppo.

As regime fighter jets attacked his hospital head on, Dr. Maaz did not run for his life. He ran to the incubators to try and save as many lives as he could. His life was not one of those that made it out of that building alive, along with 27 others.

His death is not a number. Dr. Maaz’s murder is a war crime, plane and simple. The more horrifying part is that this is not a lone event. His death is one of the most worrying trends of the Syrian Civil War, and conflicts of the 21st century. It’s becoming a trend.

In Syria alone, 654 medical personnel have been killed until September 2015, according to the UN, and, in the past year alone, 7 attacks have been reported by MSF against its facilities in the country.

Syria is not the only place where attacks against hospitals and doctors occur. All sides have been attacking healthcare workers and instutions: rebels, armed groups, and governments.

A few months ago, American military led a 30 minute barrage on an MSF-led hospital which they believed to be a Taliban HQ. They killed 42 people. They justified themselves as it being an “intelligence error.” Intelligence must have come a long way not to be able to differentiate between a hospital and a terrorist haven.

MSF reports their hospitals sustaining 106 attacks in 2015, with the loss of countless lives as well as extremely valuable equipment that is, for thousands and hundreds of thousands, the only difference between life and death.

The most dangerous aspect in such attacks is that they’ve begun to be considered as normal, not as a war anomaly, setting a war precedence into them becoming not only more “mainstream” in conflict, but also more deadly and more unchecked.

The more threatened doctors are, the less they will be willing to work in those areas that require them the most. It’s already started. Over 60% of Syrian areas, for instance, have no possibility to access any

We are doctors, not martyr projects. We work at hospitals, not battle ground sites. We save lives, regardless of who those lives belong to, irrespective of green lines and battle sides. Our lives are not worthier than others, that’s for sure, but us dying because of horrifying war crimes in which we are targets means the lives of those who are equally worthy of saving are lost forever.

We are doctors, not martyrs. We promise to go to the extreme of what we can to save anyone who can be saved. Dr. Maaz was one of those doctors who did just that. The hundreds of MSF doctors who have been killed over the past years have also been doing just that. When did medicine become open season? When did the act of warfare become one that plays out in surgical theaters and in pediatric incubators?

Everyone is at fault. The Assad regime was the culprit in this case, but this is something that everyone is doing. The targeting of healthcare personnel cannot be normalized. In a world where war is everyone’s favorite pastime, certain entities should always remain off limits. These are doctors, not martyrs. They save lives without asking for theirs to be saved. Don’t make them need to.

Aleppo is dying. Aleppo is bleeding. With labels such as “humanitarian disaster” becoming way too common, one cannot but wonder: what is causing this particular disaster? It’s not an earthquake. It’s not a natural disaster. It’s missiles, and terrorist regimes, and armed factions and other men who know no morality. The murder of people just because they exist, the targeting of hospitals just because they are, the killing of doctors just because they are doing their job is not a humanitarian disaster. It’s a war crime. Call it as such.

Congrats Lebanon, We Have The World’s 9th Worst Passport

Oh so close. We almost dropped out of the top ten this year, but no such luck.

After all the hassle secondary to our General Security deciding out of the blue that a good bunch of the country’s passport would no longer be functional, it’s safe to say that apart from that useless bureaucracy, very minimal improvement has occurred to the state of our travel document over the past year. After all, how could it given that the only semblance of governance we get is when Saudi Arabia is upset at us?

Henley & Partners, the world’s leading Citizenship research consultancy firm, published their yearly report about passport strengths – the same one that gets us upset every year – and we’re at #96 when it comes to the worst passports of the world, in a list that tops at #104 with Afghanistan. We share the #96 spot, which translates to the 9th worst passport in the world with Bangladesh, Congo and Sri Lanka.

The bottom 10 is as follows:

  1. Afghanistan,
  2. Pakistan,
  3. Iraq,
  4. Somalia,
  5. Syria,
  6. Libya,
  7. Sudan, Palestine, Nepal, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran,
  8. Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen,
  9. Bangladesh, Congo, Lebanon, Sri Lanka,
  10. Burundi, North Korea, Myanmar.

Meanwhile, a slew of European and American countries top the list with passports that give them access to more 170 countries visa-free. We are allowed access to 39.

The highest ranking Arab country is the UAE at #38 with a passport that grants them visa-free entry to 122 countries. The highest ranking regional country, however, is Cyprus at #17 with 159 visa-free country, bolstered by the fact it’s in the European Union. Our enemy to the South, meanwhile, comes in at #25 with around 147 countries its citizens can enter without a hassle.

The situation is not that bleak, however, because our passport rank has actually gone up from last year, mostly because a bunch of countries fell below us such as Syria, South Sudan and Iraq:

Lebanon Passport

We have, however, gained two more visa-free countries to travel to in the past year, up to 39.

There’s nothing more indicative about how being born somewhere is detrimental to your “worth” as a person as the hierarchy behind passports, a yearly reminder that if you happen to come from a place that is not Europe, not America, and not completely in the good graces of either of those two entities, your worth is inherently lower.

But that’s not the full explanation behind how low our passport and citizenship ranks. This rank is a reflection of the unstable political situation in a country that hasn’t had a president in almost two years and doesn’t seem like it will have one anytime soon, hasn’t managed to vote for a parliament in over 1000 days, has garbage piling up on its streets, has one of the most incompetent ruling classes to exist, has a militia roaming its lands with the ability to shake the country up at will (as in protests because of a caricature on a TV show).

Look at the UAE. A few years ago, they had only access to 64 countries without visas. In 2016, their citizens can visit double that number. Why so? Because their ruling class – new-age dictators and whatnot – have a clear vision for a future that enables their citizens to be the best version of themselves (within the limited freedom confines offered of course). We can make fun all we want of how fake Dubai is, of how silly it is to have a “Happiness” minister, but the fact remains that not only are Emiratis leagues above us now, they are also in an upward trajectory while we slumber in our lower ranks content that we have real snow and not a fake slope built inside a Dubai mall.

United Arab Emirates Passport

What can we do to fix this?

We need to be more aware citizens. We can’t bury our heads in the glories of days past and pretend that is a representation of our present. When the time comes to vote, we shouldn’t go back to what we know thinking it’s what we need – we need to see that there are alternatives to the parties that have been ruining our lives for years. As long as our politicians keep getting a blank space from us to do whatever they want, they’ll be content with keeping a status quo that enables them and disables us, including a passport that forces everyone to stay put – unless they were lucky enough to have a second one on the side to use at will.

 

To The Lebanese & Arabs Mocking The Siege On Madaya And Its Starving People

Huddled in the Anti-Lebanon mountains, Madaya is a Syrian village housing tens of thousands of innocent people who are being starved to death at the hand of a siege enforced by the Lebanese allies of the Syrian regime. Their strife is not new. They’ve been going through hell for months, eating whatever they can get: leaves, dirt, cats, dogs. International aid groups are calling the famine there the tip of the iceberg of the crisis taking place in that village of 40,000 people, and no one has been able as of now to fully grasp the picture of the human tragedy taking place there.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Forgive the shock value of the following pictures, but the victims in Madaya deserve to have their voices heard on top of those belittling them for being forced to protractedly die.

Today, some Lebanese and other Arabs are pioneering once again.

I didn’t think that there was potential for some aspects of my country to sink any lower, but color me surprised because not only have we done that, no, we have set the standards on how low you can go. Starting now, I beseech the entire world to consider us as a standard for being despicable, inhumane and revolting because it can’t get worse than this, because there can’t be people who are worse than those about whom I’m writing now.

As the news about Madaya’s humanity crisis broke, some people in my country and the region had the audacity not only to stand with the siege, but to mock the dying people of Madaya. Behold a few samples:

 

I don’t know if these creatures are people, because people cannot be so lacking of compassion, of humanity and of any ounce of civility to actually think that their own political agenda is worth advancing by useless social media posts over the frail, cachectic bodies of men, women and children.

I don’t know if these creatures are of the required intellect to be aware of the horror of watching your child die in front of you because you are not able to feed them.

I don’t know if these creatures grasp how horrifying it is to watch your parents waste away in front of you, and you in front of them, because all of you are not allowed to eat.

These creatures are savages whose existence is an abomination, who are not worthy of the air they breathe, the food they eat, the space their bodies are wasting by merely existing.

Ladies and gentlemen, we share the country with entities who cannot rise above their demented, twisted politics even when it’s as clear as the dying body of a child who has lost all color in their face and all the life out of their cheeks. They cannot grasp the notion that there are things in life far worthier than defending what you know at all costs.

Ladies and gentlemen, we live with beings who can fathom making fun of people who are being starved to death just for the sake of being funny.

It’s one thing to be apathetic to the plight of the people in Madaya, but to actively wish them further harm, to actively make fun of them is something beyond words.

I want to never wish them the hunger that the people of Madaya are feeling. I want to never wish them seeing their loved ones waste away in front of them not because of disease, but because of lack of food. I want to never wish them to see their pets being turned to stew. I want to never wish them what they are wishing to the people of Madaya. But I can’t, so here are their names, and their faces.

Do with them as you please. I may not believe, but I believe those people will one day face their reckoning: اللَّهُ يَسْتَهْزِئُ بِهِمْ وَيَمُدُّهُمْ فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ.