Justice for Roy: When Lebanon Is A Full Blown Jungle, Not A Country

Welcome to the jungle, where you can die because some brainless goon, empowered by his wasta and the guns he has around his waist and in the trunk of his can, will shoot you for upsetting him or for talking down to him. Today Roy Hamouche was that jungle’s latest victim.

Picture this. Roy, an architect, had just finished celebrating his 24th birthday with his friends when he got into an altercation with 3 guys in a windows-tinted BMW. When the immediate altercation ended, those 3 criminals chased Roy and his friends around Beirut until they surrounded their car and forced Roy out.

One of them held out his gun, pointed it to Roy’s head and shot him dead. They tried to shoot Roy’s friend, Johnny Nassar, who managed to narrowly escape them and get wounded in the process.

Today, Lebanon adds yet another victim to the growing list of innocent civilians who are being killed by the horrible state of lawlessness that our politicians have permitted to infest, prosper and permeate in all facets of our society.

It hasn’t been a month yet since Sara Sleiman was the victim of a stray bullet because a known criminal, and a henchman of a very influential Lebanese political party, couldn’t take being stuck because of a car-accident outside a pub in Zahleh.

It hasn’t even been two years since Georges El Rif was chased down by one of the bodyguards of one of Lebanon’s most important banks, and knifed in broad daylight in the middle of Achrafieh. The politician who hired that bodyguard is currently working on acquiring a bank in the United States.

And it’s been slightly more than two years since Yves Nawfal was shot dead by Charbel Khalil, after a similar altercation in Faraya, right after Yves’ 26th birthday. Khalil was also protected by one of Keserwan’s prominent politicians, and was arrested after the immense outrage following Yves’ death forced that politician to relinquish his attempts at protecting the criminal.

The common denominator to all of these murders and horrific acts is one: we live in a country where the people who killed Georges El Rif, Yves Nawfal, Sara Sleiman, Roy Hamouche and many others can do so freely because they are protected by the same establishment whose job is to make sure that Georges, Yves, Sara and Roy can go home safely or celebrate their birthdays and be certain that party won’t be their last or even cut off someone on the road and not find themselves in coffins, their names in a hashtag being circulated across the country.

What’s certain is this: those criminals that chased down Roy, forced him out of his car and shot him in the head are empowered by their wasta that allows them to parade around in an illegal car, filled with firing power, to kill whoever pisses them off in whatever processing power their tiny brain can muster.

Roy Hamouche is not a victim because he got into a fight with the wrong people. He is a victim because our country allows those people to exist, and because if we don’t turn every single horrific murder like Roy’s into a matter of national emergency those very same criminals will soon be forgotten, as whichever politician protecting them goes back to doing what he does best, and they become free to kill and terrorize other people again.

In this land they call a country, rule of law does not exist. Some people here can do whatever they want – even kill – and still get away with it through the help of the many Lebanese that are always above the law, on whom there’s no accountability, who never face consequences for their actions.

How many times is the exact same scenario supposed to be repeated before we realize that the way they’re forcing us to live in this jungle is not acceptable anymore, that our lives are not at the mercy of airheads who are bolstered by the power of their wasta and the barrel of their gun. Many in Lebanon keep weapons and knives in their cars. They roam our streets, threaten our security and our lives, aware that their threats will never be faced with any repercussions. But let our security forces be happy they apprehended someone with a funny license plate, because that’s definitely keeping us safer.

Until then, may Roy Hamouche rest in peace. Yet another person with so much future ahead of him taken way too soon by this lawless land. I hope his family finds solace in having the criminals that took his life be apprehended and dealt the worst of punishments, but NOT the death penalty.

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A Lebanese Wasta

There’s nothing like a Lebanese wasta. Sure other countries have “connections” but we have perfected the art of getting places by virtue of who we know.

This won’t be long so sit back and read.

Rami and Fadi are both fresh high school graduates who both got over the required grade limit to apply to the Lebanese army and become officers.
Rami and Fadi both presented to the psychological evaluation part of the grueling entrance exams. Rami passed. Fadi failed. Rami continued his examination process while Fadi stayed home, his hopes of entry gone down the drain.

But behold. Fadi’s relative knows someone who’s ranked high up in the army. Two week after his failure in the psychological exam, Fadi got a phone call to go back and sit for the tests. He failed his medical test due to a deviated septum. It didn’t matter anyway, he was let through to the next phase.

Rami was still passing anyway.

Fadi then had to sit for the written exams required to assess high school knowledge. He got to the examination center without the required ID. As everyone else entered, he sat outside trying to reason with the officers in question but to no avail. 15 minutes passed as other applicants tackled their exams. A couple of phone calls later, he was inside, sitting in the back of the room with the officer observing the exam’s proceedings feeding him the required answers.

Both Rami and Fadi passed those written exams and advanced to the last stage – the personal interview required to get whoever decides to make their choice regarding the 200 or so people who will get all the perks that being a Lebanese officer entails.

A few days later, the news of who was accepted surfaced. Rami – who had passed his exams without the need for outside help – was thrown out. Fadi, who hadn’t passed an exam on his own merits was in. His family celebrated. They threw extravagant luncheons to celebrate the triumph of their son. They bragged about his merits, not knowing that everyone knew the story behind how he got in.

A few years from now, Fadi will become one of those men who – despite not being qualified in the least – can walk all over you.

The above story is 100% correct, apart from the names that have been altered.

Does it matter? Perhaps not. It’s sad though that all the people who are qualified in this country get lost in the shuffle of the lessers who are more connected. I used to think a Lebanese Wasta was the worst thing ever but with each passing day, I’m being forced to reconsider because it seems to be the only way to get a job, to get ahead and to make a life for yourself.

It’s either a wasta or the system shatters you.