In Pictures: More Than 100 Lebanese Men Walked In Heels Against Violence

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More than 100 men, including myself, wore heels today and walked a mile in support of #Kafa and in an attempt to raise awareness on violence against women. LBCI, Future TV, OTV, Al Jadeed, Al Arabiyya, Al Hurra, Skynews Arabia, Reuters, MBC.net and other media outlets were there to cover the event which is pretty cool. MTV didn’t show up which is weird.

One of the TV reporters asked me if I was worried that the Lebanese society would make fun of me or other men for wearing heels. I told them that I couldn’t care less and don’t mind it as I’m doing this for a good cause, and if wearing heels would help raise further awareness on violence against women, then maybe we should do this more often. By the way the heels weren’t as annoying as I thought they’d be lol!

Here are some of the pictures I took and more will be added tomorrow on Walk A mile Beirut Facebook page.

PS: For those who didn’t understand the point of the event and started a hashtag against it (#المراه_مش_كعب_سكربينه), the idea is to put yourself in her shoes by literally wearing heels, not representing women by heels. I never thought I would need to explain the idea, that’s just absurd! In all cases, instead of wasting your time by trending a silly and pointless tweet, a good idea would be show up at demonstrations that promote women rights and raise awareness the way you see it fit instead of criticizing positive movements and initiatives.

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Lebanese Basketball Player Wael Arakji Has Declared For The 2015 NBA Draft!

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Wael

Lebanese point guard and Riyadi (Sporting Beirut) player Wael Arakji has reportedly entered the 2015 NBA draft after his performances caught one of the NBA scouts’ attention. The news came after @DraftExpress tweeted the news and stated that Wael’s stats aren’t super impressive, but he looks interesting on film as he’s big for a point guard and very quick.

Arakji is only 20. He’s 6’4 and has been playing with Riyadi for 4 years now. Arakji is averaging 7.5 points and 3 assists per game. This is great news for Wael and I hope we will see him next year in the NBA League!

Check out more info [here].

Arakji

PS: Someone did a video comparing Wael’s moves to Goran Dragic, Miami Heat’s Point guard.

[YouTube]

#RealityCheck: Are You Armenian? Do You Eat Basterma?

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pierre

Are you Armenian? Do you eat a lot of spices? Do you live in Bourj Hammoud? Do you eat Basterma a lot? Bto2rabak Kim Kardashian?

These are all real life questions that are often asked to Lebanese-Armenians based on stereotypes that are generally untrue and are not as funny as some people think they are. The below video is meant to spread a message against stereotyping in a funny way and includes several known Lebanese-Armenian personalities such as Pierre Chammassian (this guy is hilarious), Roy Malakian, Paula Yacoubian, Sandra Arslanian, Shant Kababian, Guy Manoukian and others …

[YouTube]

Thanks Bouchra!

Echoes Photo Exhibition: 40 Pictures From The Red Cross Archives & 6 Lebanese War Photographers.

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Echoes: The voices behind the pictures is a photo exhibition organized by The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) on the occasion of the 40th commemoration of the start of the Lebanese civil. There are 40 pictures being displayed for the first time and taken from the Red Cross archives and 6 Lebanese war photographers: Abbas Selman, Jamil Saiidi, Patrick Baz, Aline Manoukian, Marwan Tahtah and Hussein Baydoun.

The exhibition is taking place at Villa Paradiso in Achrafieh until April 26th from 10 till 10. I highly recommend that you pass by and see what the Lebanese went through during the war and the tough circumstances that these brave humanitarian workers had to endure.

40 years have passed since the Lebanese war erupted on April 13th. Its “Echoes” are still resonating today. They are the voices of families of missing persons, the disabled and weapon wounded persons and dispersed families. Forty stories will be told in an audiovisual exhibition organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Lebanese Red Cross. The exhibition will be displaying 40 photos from the Red Cross archives and 6 Lebanese war photographers.

map Here’s a map showing where the exhibition is taking place. You can spot Urbanista on the main Gemmayze street and there’s La Tabkha on the way up to Villa Paradiso.

Here’s a small video showing the exhibition:

[YouTube]

Here are some of the pictures I took:

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Controversial French Comedian Dieudonné Is Coming To Lebanon On June 3rd & 4th

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dieudonne

I know for a fact that a lot of Lebanese are fans of Dieudonné, either because he’s anti-Zionist or just because he’s controversial and funny. For those of you who don’t know who this guy is, Dieudonné was born in the Paris suburs in 1966, and is a famous and controversial French stand-up comedian and activist. He’s been fined in France several times for hate speech and was recently arrested for being “an apologist for terrorism” after he published a post on Facebook that expressed sympathy with one of the Paris gunmen. He popularized the “quenelle” gesture, a straight-arm salute, that was labeled by some people as being racist and a gesture of hatred. The French authorities even tried to shutdown his show calling it racist and anti-Semitic, but Dieudonné insists that his comedy targets everyone and that he’s anti-Zionist not anti-Semitic.

Dieudonné has become somewhat of a divisive figure in France and abroad, as some view his show as being “a danger to society” and an “incitement of racial hate”, while others believe that silencing him is an attempt to limit free speech. I’ve seen many of his shows and some are hilarious while others are truly shocking but that’s what he does, almost the same way Charlie Hebdo magazine did (not according to the French law), and I’m actually surprised that they are letting him come to Lebanon specially after the latest controversy.

In all cases, Achillea is bringing Dieudonné to Beirut as mentioned on their website and “Dieudonné En Tournée: La Bête Immonde” will be showing in Lebanon on the 3rd and 4th of June 2015 at Casino du Liban and tickets should be available soon for purchase in all branches of Virgin Ticketing Box Office.

PS: This is not Dieudonné’s first visit to Beirut as he performed in 2010 at the Music Hall in Beirut.

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

Expect To See Car Chases In Lebanon Soon

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cops

Here’s a video showing how the Jdeideh ISF officers warned a driver who wasn’t wearing a seat belt and talking on the phone today. I’m not sure if this was staged or someone actually filmed it while driving on the highway but I hope to see videos where these guys are warning and fining other officers breaking the law. (see below)

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11168010_832750560150672_1700220400023377705_n via Wayniye el Dawoule

Some Lebanese Refuse To Recognize The Armenian Genocide

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Lebanon Victims of the Ottoman rule – Picture taken in Lebanon via Annahar

A couple of Beiruti associations and organizations, as well as few Sunni groups in Tripoli, rejected Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision “to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, and claimed that the genocide is a subject of historical dispute and lacks national consensus”. The Turkish flag was even raised in Tripoli to show support.

I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, but it’s quite shameful and pathetic to hear that some Lebanese don’t acknowledge a genocide that is documented in historical books, studies, novels and documentaries. Even the Turks acknowledged last year the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks but still refused to call it a genocide.

Moreover, I think someone should remind these groups of Lebanon’s dark days of hunger during the Ottoman Rule, when General Jamal Pasha “instituted an internal blockade of cereals to enter Mount Lebanon, particularly the Christian Maronite Canton (Kaemmakam) that included the current districts of Kesrowan and Betroun. Consequently, the Lebanese could not receive wheat and cereals from the district of Akkar and the Bekaa Valley”. It is estimated that Mount Lebanon lost between 20 and 30% of its population and some sources claim that it was the highest death toll by population of the First World War. I know for a fact that the towns of Abidlleh and Chabtine lost more than 40 or 50% of its residents back then and cases of cannibalism were reported. Of course the severe drought and locusts that hit Lebanon made things worse but the suffocating internal blockade by the Ottomans did the most damage.

One of the many sources I found on this dark era is from “The Famine of 1915-18 in Greater Syria” book that mentions “500,000 victims of famine and related to famine in Syria and Lebanon, 200,000 of them died in Mount Lebanon, particularly in the districts of Byblos and Batroun and Tripoli”. If this is accurate, this means Tripoli also suffered from the Ottoman rule just like all of Lebanon did, and these groups should be condemning Turkey for these actions and what they did to the Armenian people as well.

Here’s an excerpt taken from a letter by Gibran Khalil Gibran to Mary Haskell dated May 26, 1916: “The famine in Mount Lebanon has been planned and instigated by the Turkish government. Already 80,000 have succumbed to starvation and thousands are dying every single day. The same process happened with the Christian Armenians and applied to the Christians in Mount Lebanon”. Also there’s an [article] written by Annahar on this matter, pictures and references I found on the AUB website, and this [article] that quotes several sources on the famine that hit Lebanon between 1915 and 1918.

A coalition of Sunni organizations in Beirut Tuesday condemned a decision by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to close private and public schools on April 24 in observance of the Armenian genocide, saying it might torpedo Turkish efforts to release Lebanese hostages held by ISIS and Nusra Front.

“Beiruti Associations and Organizations rejects Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, given that the anniversary is a subject of historical dispute and the lack of national Lebanese consensus regarding the circumstances [of the events of 1915],” a statement said. [DailyStar]

أثار قرار وزير التربية الياس بوصعب بالتعطيل يوم الجمعة حفيظة البعض في المجتمع الطرابلسي، وفعالياته، رفضاً للقرار. ومن أبرز الهيئات الرافضة للقرار دار الافتاء في طرابلس، وجمعية العزم والسعادة التابعة لرئيس مجلس الوزراء الاسبق نجيب ميقاتي، وهيئة العلماء المسلمين، ودعا عدد من الجمعيات إلى اعتصامات الجمعة استنكارًا لموقف الوزير، ودفاعًا عن تركيا.

وأصدرت “جمعية بيت الزكاة” بيانا طالبت فيه الحكومة اللبنانية بتوضيح حقيقة تبنّيها لقرار الوزير، وأوضح بيانها أن الجمعية “تدين كلّ المجازر التي وقعت في بلادنا العربية والإسلامية أو في العالم”، معلنة في البيان: “سوف نتقدّم من مجلس الوزراء بجدول عن المذابح التي ارتكبت بالأقاليم العربية والإسلامية، وليتحمّل المجلس النتائج، ولتعطل المدارس كل أيام العام الدراسي حدادًا على تلك المجازر”. [Annahar]

100 Years Already: Remember And Recognize The Armenian Genocide

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Genocide

The above picture is the forget-me-not flower, the official emblem of the 100th year of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. The forget-me-not flower expresses the theme of eternal remembrance, and is also meant to symbolically evoke the past, present and future experiences of the Armenian people. Here’s what the emblem means:

THE PAST: the black center represents the sufferings of 1915, and the dark aftermath of the Armenian Genocide.

THE PRESENT: the light purpose petals represents the unity of Armenian communities across the world – all of whom stand together in this 100th year of remembrance.

THE FUTURE: The five petals represent the five continents where survivors of the Armenian Genocide found a new home. The dark purple color is meant to recall the priestly vestments of the Armenian Church – which has been,is, and will remain at the heart of the Armenian Christian identity.

ETERNITY: The twelve trapezoids represent the twelve pillars of the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan, Armenia. The yellow color represents light, creativity, and hope.

On this day, let us remember that The Ottomans wanted to get rid of the Armenians and Lebanese as well back in 1916, and that the blockage that Jamal Pasha imposed on Lebanon and the entire eastern Mediterranean coast caused the death of thousands in Mount Lebanon. Of course what happened in Lebanon is only a fraction of what the Armenian people had to go through, and Turkey must acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.

Everything you need to know about the genocide:
Approximately 1.5 million Armenians out of a population of 2.5 million were killed by the end of 1922. When the genocide was over in 1922, there were just 388,000 Armenians remaining in the Ottoman Empire. You can check more information on the genocide in Rita’s post [here] and on this [website]. Here’s also a touching story that a friend of mine sent me few months back about the Armenian diaspora in Lebanon.

Tales of survival of the Armenian Genocide:
– Tales of survival posted by Armenian elders [DailyStar].
– Lebanese Journalist and activist Joumana Haddad recounts her family’s trauma from the Armenian Genocide [Link].
– Blogger Garlik & Saphire shares her grandmother’s survival story. [Link]

[YouTube] AK made this film to document the printing of the magazine in real blood drawn from 5 Lebanese-Armenians who decided to give blood as a symbolic gesture of remembrance for the blood that was spilled by the Armenian people.

La Crêperie Kaslik Is Back!

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Ever since I posted sneak peek pictures of the newly renovated La Crêperie, a lot of people have been asking me about La Crêperie’s official opening date, and whether the menu and venue have changed drastically. Luckily enough, I was among the few invited to check out La Crêperie last Sunday and taste the new menu before the official opening which is scheduled for April 28th, so I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know in this post and show you how awesome the new restaurant is.

For those of you who don’t know La Creperie yet, it’s is one of Lebanon’s most authentic and beautiful restaurants and has been serving great food since 1968. The restaurant is an 18th Century Picturesque Ottoman House that offers a breathtaking view across the Jounieh bay and has welcomed several celebrities, presidents, ministers and diplomats. It’s an ideal place for family gatherings, couples, first dates, romantic dinners and events.

So what’s new at La Crêperie?
La Crêperie’s renovation kicked off almost two years ago and was completed few weeks back. The main purpose was to ensure authenticity of the architecture and to keep the spirit of the place while reinforcing the worn out walls and foundations. Add to that the beautiful landscaping. To begin with, the restaurant’s entrance and parking lot were both enhanced to fit more cars and you are now greeted by a 1000-year old olive tree set right before La Creperie’s entrance. As you walk into the restaurant, you are surrounded by walls of hanging jasmine flowers that lead right to the restaurant’s terrace and main door.

As soon as you step inside, you notice how spacious the new place has become. The big old wooden bar is now gone and was replaced by an open bar in the middle of the restaurant. The paintings on the ceiling were also removed but the tiles as well as the tables and chairs look almost the same as before. The main room is now connected to all others and there are preserved butterflies displayed in glass frames are all the walls. The old chimney room kept its warm feel and looks amazing now.

20150419_212432 A Walk Down Memory Lane

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As far as the balcony is concerned, it’s much wider now and extends to the outdoor terrace and the chimney room on the other end of the house. The old railings were replaced by glass ones and the small tables and chairs by comfy couches and low tables. I have to admit I’m gonna miss the simpler tiny balcony with the small chairs and tables but at least this way, more people will get to enjoy the splendid views across the Jounieh bay. The caves were also revamped and I had a quick look at them but I’m not sure if they will be open next week as well.

Moving on to the most important part which is the food, the menu has few additional items but is very similar to the old one and still has some of the restaurant’s popular dishes (like the poussin desossé, crepe fait maison etc). Speaking of crepes, and this is great news, the same old women who were at Creperie are back and they’re doing the same amazing crepes!

What’s in the menu?
The menu consists of Salads and Appetizers, Pastas, Meat & Chicken, Fish and desserts.

The salads and appetizers include: a nicoise salad, goat-cheese salad, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, Quinoa halloumi, Chicken Caesar salad, grilled calamari, smoked salmon, frogs a la provencale and bresaola with parmesan. There are 3 types of pastas, the Tagliatelle Alfredo, the Linguine Fruit de Mer and Penne Sauce Tomate. Steaks and Chicken platters include a filet de boeuf, steak frites, cote de boeuf, entrecote, escalope, tartate de boeuf, home-made burger, chicken escalope a la milanaise and a grilled chicken platter. For the sea-food lovers, there’s a seabass platter, grilled salmon, prawns and two mérou platters. Last but not least, the long list of desserts includes the traditional Baba au rhum, Tarte tatin with vanilla icecream, a cheese cake, tiramisu, chocolat fondant, creme brulee, tarte au chocolate, eclair au chocolat, poire belle Helene, salade de fruits, mille-feuille, icecream and sorbets, and the pain perdu.

Here’s what we ordered and some pictures:

Salads And Appetizers:
– Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc.
– Salade de chevre chaud, sauce balsamique au miel.
– Salade de tomates, Mozzarella fraiche.
– Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron.
– Saumon fume ecossais et son toast.

Steaks:
– Filet de boeuf, haricots verts et carottes, pommes puree.
– Cote de boeuf grille pour deux, pommes au four.
– Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.
– Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

Desserts:
– Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.
– Poire Belle Helene.
– 2 Crepe Marron.
– 1 Crepe Chocolat Noir.
– Baba au rhum

As for drinks, we had a Beaujolais-villages 2012 red wine bottle.

20150419_215851 Salade Nicoise a la vinaigrette de vin blanc

20150419_220033 Quinoa au Halloumi, sauce citron

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20150419_221559 Crepe fait maison (Jambon, Fromage, Champignon)

20150419_223834 Pave de saumon, pommes rustiques.

20150419_223921 Cote de boeuf

20150419_230627 Crepes in the making.

20150419_231627 The famous Crepe Marron (sweet chestnut cream)

20150419_232042 Poire Belle Helene.

20150419_232409 Creme brulee aux gousses de vanille.

I enjoyed the salads and loved the quinoa. The salmon and mozzarellah were fresh, the steak and vegetables were great, the crepe fait maison was ok, the salmon was good and the desserts were all amazing! I ordered twice the crepe marron (topped with jam) and I highly recommend the Poire Belle Helene! The pain perdu wasn’t available yet so I will try it next time hopefully. All in all, it was a pleasant experience and I loved how simple the food presentation is and how much the new place reminded me of the old one. The new Crêperie has managed to keep the authenticity and originality of the old one with few changes and brought back a lot of memories from the old times.

Price-wise, the menu didn’t have any prices yet but from what I’ve been told, they haven’t change much and the price range will be around 35-50$ per person. La Crêperie will officially open on Tuesday 28th of April 2015. You can contact them on +96171202022. Here’s a link to their [website] and [Instagram] page.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stop Attacking The New Traffic Law

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I understand people criticizing certain aspects of the new traffic law and how police officers will be penalized for breaking the law, but refusing the traffic law because the roads are bad and not lit, or because you saw a cop running a red light is absurd. I agree that the new law is tough when it comes to fines, but again that’s not an excuse for not abiding by the new rules and becoming a better driver. It’s like ditching classes because the classroom seats are not comfortable, or as my friend Mustapha stated yesterday “refusing to take an exam because the school has no electricity”. If you want to keep on speeding, running red lights, not wearing seat-belts and driving recklessly, then you are an idiot and I hope you get fined and thrown in jail.

Don’t confuse the traffic law with other issues like the infrastructure, security and corruption because they are different. Implementing a new traffic law is as important as enhancing security, fixing roads, fighting censorship and corruption and protecting your freedom of thought. We need to become better drivers, the same way we need to become more environmentally friendly and less corrupt, and only a tough law and raising awareness will do the job. Again this doesn’t mean that the law is perfect and doesn’t have any flaws, but let’s do our part and start pressuring the authorities to do theirs as well. Speaking of which, there are 4 issues that I’m still not comfortable with and that I believe need to be tackled properly:

1- Political and security convoys: Is the police allowed to stop them? What happens when they are driving dangerously and cutting off people?
2- Fake License plates: This is unfortunately becoming a trend whereas crooks use fake car plate numbers and cause other drivers to get fined.
3- Settling the fines: Fines always used to come late (sometimes a year late), which is unacceptable. The ISF needs to figure out a way to automate the process.
4- Valet parking companies: Valet guys park everywhere illegally and throw away fines sometimes. They need to be severely penalized and banned if needed.

Until then, let’s drive safely and let’s hope the new traffic law will last more than 2 months this time.

IMG-20150422-WA0016 How the Lebanese reacted to the new traffic law – at the Mecanique in Dekwaneh

PS: Watch out for trains.

666 via Tayyar