Bershka Lebanon Insulting The Virgin Mary

A friend of mine just sent my way the following shirt being sold by Bershka Lebanon for 49,000:

Bershka Shirt Lebanon Christianity - 1 Bershka Shirt Lebanon Christianity - 2

The shirt called Lady of Skulls features a Virgin Mary-esque image that cannot, even with the most out-of-the-box approaches, not be considered as a distortion of many Christians icons of Mary

I am not the most sensitive person when it comes to religious jabs. In fact, I think we need some of them more often so people can light off a little. Caricatures or comedic approaches to some religious symbols might be acceptable – they are to me – but demonizing religious holy figures for the sake of having fun such as in this case is, quite frankly, unacceptable. I find it revolting and offensive.


It’s not about freedom of expression or freedom to wear whatever you want. This isn’t a book I’m saying you should not be reading or a movie you shouldn’t be watching or a website you shouldn’t be exposed to. It’s about respecting other people’s beliefs to the point where you don’t shove a picture that is clearly offensive up their faces just because someone out there thought it was fashionable enough to be worn.

Perhaps this is acceptable in countries where views towards religion is more liberal but the only thing this will lead to here is tension because of a silly and quite frankly hideous shirt.

This isn’t how you advance communities towards religious liberalism and breed tolerance, love, peace for all and a bunch of other cliches. Good job Bershka Lebanon.

It seems a Santa Muerte shrine is opening in Lebanon soon. (Link)
Virgin Mary standing on crescent moon

The French Experience – Lourdes

We left St. Etienne and the family that welcomed us for three nights on the morning of August 10th.

We had a ten hour route to Lourdes, the infamous pilgramage sight that many Lebanese have/want to visit/ed. And with delays bound to happen, and with the French law dictating thirty minutes of rest for every two hours of driving, we got to Lourdes twelve hours later.

It was 7:30 pm and time for dinner, as set by the French. We didn´t even have time to take pictures as we ran to the huge grass field we were seated in for some fish and rice.

Soon after, we had about thirty minutes to visit before mass. Naturally, I visited the infamous cave where St. Bernadette dug to reveal a small stream of holy water. Then, with two Lebanese girls, I ran to the statue of Mary that was set as gathering point only to find no one there.

Then, we were joined by ten other Lebanese who couldn´t find the remainder of the group. And it was time for a Marial Procession around the grounds. Imagine ten thousand people of a multitude of nationalities chanting Ave Maria together, to a backdrop of an epic-looking church, and you get the sense of what Lourdes is.

Not only is it a Holy place but it´s a location where I, as non-devout Christian, and despite the looming idea of having to sleep on the floor with two hundred other French guys, in a gym, and not being able to shower, was able to find some peace.

The idea of sitting there, looking at nothing except the statue of Virgin Mary and her smiling at you – there´s just something comforting about that.

Then a French woman came up to us after seeing the flag we were holding. She told us how she visits Lebanon often and how she is mesmerized by the culture of the country. In fact, and I quote, she said the following: “I have no roots in the orient, but I love your country, Lebanon, as much as I love my country, France.”

Needless to say, I felt proud. And this sense of pride about my country – despite all our problems – will only grow as my trip moves forwards.

But back to Lourdes… even at 11 pm in the evening, the queue line to visit the Grotto was about a hundred meter long. So we had to wait for the other Lebanese who actually attended mass (yes, we got reprimanded for getting lost although it wasn´t really our fault) to visit.

And while at Lourdes, I lit a candle as a prayer for many people who asked. My cousin asked me to pray for her success in Lebanon´s second round of official exams. Micheline Hazou asked me on twitter to pray for her too and my aunt had a private wish she wanted to pass on. I did all of those in one candle. And you know what, I think my prayer was answered, at least somewhat. My cousin passed.

I guess we have to wait to see if the remaining part of my attempt at a prayer worked. But I´d like to believe it did…

And so we had a long walk back to the gym. You see, Lourdes was closed soon after 12 pm for rehearsals for a play that was shown on August 15th. After all, Spain and Toledo awaited us in a few hours…