As I followed my friend’s tweets on what he was going through in Tahrir Square in Egypt, today, I couldn’t help but feel proud to be Lebanese – at least for today.
I’m not going to start embellishing the life we lead in Lebanon for the sake of impressing a reader that might stumble on my blog. But today has proven the vital importance of something we’ve come to take for granted – at least in the last six years. Our freedom of speech.
We have gotten accustomed to saying anything that comes to our mind that we don’t really think about those who cannot do so.
Look at what happened in Egypt today… the government cracked down on those who tried to defy it. A bloodbath ensued in Tahrir Square.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the government cracked down on those that tried to topple it in 2006? They protested and had a two-year long sit in. And no blood was shed because of the protest directly.
Even more so, can you imagine what would have happened if March 14, which is very similar to what happened yesterday, on February 1st, in Egypt, was followed by a similar crackdown by the authorities to the one that took place in Egypt today?
So for all matters and purposes, I am proud to be Lebanese today. I am proud to be able to decide on a cold Wednesday in February to protest against the government and expect no one to beat me up in return. I am proud that I can support causes that most people frown upon and still expect nothing to happen to me. I am proud that I can criticize most top politicians in my country and be able to sleep soundly at night. I am proud to be from the country that is lightyears ahead of the whole region in everything that counts.
So do remember from time to time that there are things more important than super-fast internet, a booming economy and a fragile political peace… sometimes, being free is what matters the most.