Category Archives: Critiques

The Lebanese Basketball Federation Head Should Not Resign, He Should Be Fired!

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A year go, I wrote a post against allowing 3 foreign players instead of two in the Lebanese Basketball teams and I applauded the FLB President Walid Nassar for standing against this decision, hoping that he won’t change his mind.

Not only did Nassar change his mind, but he’s now threatening to resign if his demands are not met, and one of them is allowing 3 foreign players instead of 2.

I don’t know what made him change his mind but I would have fired this guy and anyone in favor of this decision if that was their plan to save the game in Lebanon. All those who are thinking that way are arguing that Lebanese basketball players are overpriced and that they’d rather overpay one additional foreign player than invest in Lebanese. I’ve already said it and I say it again: This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard and it will destroy the game if implemented. If anything, the teams should allow only one foreign player and the federation can always bring down the salaries for Lebanese players if they find them outrageous and high (which they are not). Moreover, if the teams are suffering financially, it’s because they’ve been spending massively on foreign players (instead of spending on young talents) in the past years in order to clinch the title, and I am sure they will do the same as soon as their financial situation improves and spend even more on foreign players since they will be allowed three. Every year, some politician or business man spends a couple of millions on a team hoping to win the title, then he dumps it the year later. This is totally unacceptable and will definitely kill the game on the long run.


On another note, no one is apparently willing to take the blame for the unpreparedness of our National Team for the Asian Cup, the absence of Fadi el Khatib, the lack of a center in the team and other issues. If the president, the director or the minister can’t take responsibility for anything, then maybe they are in the wrong place. Moreover, if they are unable to do their job because of other members, then let them expose them.

Every year, those in charge manage to screw things up and ruin our chances of achieving better results with the national team. The players and the fans are the victims as always, and to be honest, there’s nothing that can be done as long as politics are involved and incompetent people are running the game.

Najwa Karam And Domestic Violence

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najwa Taken from NajwaKaramFB

During her radio interview with Rima Njeim, Lebanese Singer Najwa Karam stated that she was a victim of domestic violence but she “deserved it” and thought it “helped her”. I guess that explains her tweet last year on that same topic.

Maybe we shouldn’t expect much from a Hilter fan after all, but I’m just surprised that a statement like that from a popular singer like her doesn’t cause a public outrage.


The Solution To All Our Problems: Come Up With The Largest Lebanese Flag

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Back in August, I got an SMS asking me to donate money in support of the longest Lebanese flag and to go down and sign it on Martyrs Square. The message also stated that the entrance was free (to Martyrs Square???). The event got cancelled due to protests back then but I received another SMS a week ago asking me to donate $1 to raise the Lebanese Cedar in the whole world and preserve our existence. I’m guessing the last message is related to the event that took place today in Beirut where the largest Lebanese flag was signed by celebrities and placed on a boat that will roam the Lebanese coast and reach 52 different countries.

I’m still trying to make sense of this event but I’m unable to. Is it really the right time to waste time and money on such a thing? How will signing the largest Lebanese flag and sending it around the world help us resolve the garbage crisis? Moreover, do we need a huge Lebanese flag to start building a house for the elderly by 2018? How much did that flag and event cost? And who’s covering the trip expenses around the world? Can’t we help old people right now with all this money? Only last week, I posted about an old man who lived on the street and committed suicide because no one was helping him.

All in all, there’s no harm in raising our Lebanese flag all over the world but you don’t need the largest Lebanese flag for that. As for Lebanese abroad, I’m sure they’d love to sign the flag and dance dabke around it but what they really want is to be involved in what’s happening here and be able to vote and change things.

PS: This same 4-digit number was asking me to help multiple sclerosis patients to beat the disease back in May 2015.




What If Solidere Opens A Permanent Abou Rakhoussa (Flea) Market?

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Another Abou Rakhoussa market took place in Downtown Beirut yesterday, and while I still believe that it’s a diversion from the real problem at hand which is the garbage crisis of course, opening a permanent flea market in Beirut’s central district may actually be a good idea. Open food markets are always packed in Beirut Souks, the upper part of Solidere is practically empty now and it’s very easy to set up a market there so why not give it a try?

I say let’s have a flea market and let Chammas, Solidere and the Abou Rakhoussa people organize it together. People may actually look at it as a positive sign and go down in large numbers. After isn’t that what we all want? bringing Beirut back to life?

On another note, I never thought Beirut’s Central District was for the rich and I don’t think expensive restaurants and boutiques are the reason why Lebanese are staying away from the heart of the city. I remember the pre-2005 years when all the Lebanese used to go down to Beirut to eat, drink, smoke arguile, party or simply walk. You could spend as little as $10 and enjoy the night. I don’t want to dig further into this topic because it’s a very long and complicated one but Beirut has always been for all the Lebanese and no one can ever change that no matter how much they try.


Beirut River Garbage Wall

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Here are few pictures and a video taken at the landfill right on the Beirut River. Needless to say, the smell is horrible, garbage is everywhere and I even spotted someone living there. The authorities are supposed to remove all this garbage soon but what I don’t understand is why garbage is thrown so randomly and all over the place? Even if we’re having a garbage crisis, that’s not an excuse to throw garbage everywhere.










How We All Failed Tawfic Khawam

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Tawfic Khawan

A week ago, I was checking out on Baby Ali under the Charles Helou bridge with a friend when we spotted a young man coming out of the station. His clothes were dirty and torn and he look weak and tired. When we asked him what is he doing in the station, he told us he’s been sleeping on the stairs for a week because he fled his parents’ house in Akkar. As it turns out, the young man wasn’t emotionally stable and needed assistance so my friend contacted an NGO who took him in. I don’t know how much he would have lasted living like that but we luckily found him before it was too late. That wasn’t the case for Tawfic Khawan though, an 87 year old Lebanese who used to live under the Basta bridge.

Based on the story that’s being shared online, Tawfic was homeless, disabled after an accident, with no medical security and barely any food to survive on. He always had a small flag that says “and Lebanon remains…” and was trying to join the #YouStink protests in Beirut and light himself up in Martyrs Square but no one would take him here, so he bought a bottle of petrol, poured it over his weak body and lit himself up. This is a truly heartbreaking story and I wish we would have known before about Tawfic and helped him out somehow. I believe it is important to shed the light on these people in need in order to raise awareness and figure out a way to assist them.

A small sit-in was organized yesterday under the Basta el Tahta bridge to commemorate his death.

May he rest in peace.

Tawfic Khawam
Aged 87.
He asked a young man to take him to the martyr’s square but the young man refused, saying it was too dangerous with the protests and the violence occurring there.
Tawfic was homeless, disabled after an accident, with no medical security and barely any food to survive on.
The law 220/2000 states that the disabled are entitled to free healthcare among many other benefits, yet as many other laws in Lebanon, they remain only words on paper
Tawfic lived under the Basta bridge, his only decoration the Lebanese flag with the words “and Lebanon remains…”
He gave the rest of his money to the kids to buy sweets, and then with what remained bought a bottle of petrol. He drank some and poured some over himself and then lit a match.
He had wanted to light himself in the martyr’s square, to show the politicians of this country what it really means to rape their nation. But he couldn’t reach there. He committed suicide alone, on the street.
Tawfic’s death does not just represent the failure of the state. We also failed him.


Abou Rakhoussa Market In Downtown Beirut, But For The Wrong Reasons

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The Abou Rakhoussa market that took place yesterday in Downtown Beirut was a funny reaction to Nicolas Chammas’ press conference, where he called on demonstrators to leave the Beirut district because they were “cheapening” it, but I don’t think it sent out the right message. The #YouStink movement, as far as I know, is about fighting corruption, defending our right to protest and resolving the garbage crisis, yet turning it into a class war is a very bad strategic decision.

While I partially disapprove of Solidere’s practices and what Beirut’s Central District was turned into, #YouStink and other movement organizers should set their priorities straight and keep their protests strictly against corruption and in favor of accountability and a transparent solution to the garbage crisis. A lot of people I know are already starting to lose interest because 1) they don’t understand who’s asking for what anymore, 2) they are not taking the organizers seriously and 3) they don’t agree with the “new demands”.

Garbage is still around us and the first rains are coming soon. This is the real problem now and this is what the movements (I lost count of all of them) should focus on. I know that they’re up against a ruthless, powerful and corrupt political class, but they need to have a clear plan of action and specific goals or else the movement will die out. Time is not on their side and as soon as people lose interest in the protest, politicians will reach a compromise (in the process) and solve the garbage crisis under the table and life will go on. I really hope I’m wrong but this is the way I’m seeing things.

Needless to say, I will always side with the demonstrators and their right to protest and I condemn the disproportional and unnecessary use of force against them. Nothing justifies what happened two days ago and what has been happening since day 1 against peaceful protesters.

PS: All pictures taken from Abou Rakhoussa Facebook event.


abou rakhoussa1

Abou rakhoussa2

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9 Powerful Pictures From Today’s #YouStink Protest

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Protest1 Photo by Mustapha Jamaleddine

Yet another #YouStink protest turned violent today and some activists were beaten up and arrested by the police. The police used once again excessive force which is unacceptable and not justified. Even if the demonstrators were not as peaceful as they should be, any use of force must be proportional and strictly necessary but that wasn’t the case obviously and there are tens of videos to prove it. Moreover, the fact that the police didn’t stop the thugs that attacked the crowds is also not acceptable. I’m all for establishing order and I respect the Lebanese security forces but there’s no need to get this violent.







jour A police officer trying to steal a journalist’s camera – via Dar al Mussawir.

Gemmayze Artwork in Gemmayze by Ali el Rafei

A Shameful And Inaccurate Report On Baby Ali

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baby ali (2)

Update: I got a clarification from MTV saying “that the title used was indeed wrong and that it was changed at the midnight news. Moreover, they didn’t mention the online campaign because it wasn’t related only to Ali and they wanted to shoot another report on online campaigns especially that there are already two success stories. Also, they couldn’t mention all the names and they made sure to thank everyone”.

I thank them for the clarification and for changing that horrible title. The report should have been elaborated further in my opinion as it sent out a wrong message unfortunately and the title made it worse. What matters the most and MTV agrees on that now is that Ali is now in a new shelter with his family.

Everyone is happy that Baby Ali was rescued from the street and moved into a new shelter but MTV’s report last night was a disrespectful one for the baby and his family and those who helped.

To begin with, they gave themselves all the credit for shedding the light on the story which is not correct as the story had spread before on Twitter and was highlighted by several media as well. I personally knew about Baby Ali from the MTV report but a lot of people were following up on the baby since day 1 and posting updates.

Second of all, calling the baby a “bastard” is inappropriate and unnecessary. The headline used “بعد الاعلان: منزل للرضيع اللقيط!” was a terrible one! Did you verify that he’s a bastard? And if that’s the case what difference does it make? Did you check if the mother was raped or forced into prostitution for example? Or if the father ditched her or maybe died in the war in Syria? This baby has a name and you could have used it for announcing the story.

Last but not least, why didn’t they mention who helped and how? If they don’t want to say Alfa helped, what’s wrong with mentioning LiveLoveBeirut and letting people know about the online fundraising campaign to help Ali and other children?

Speaking of donors, Alfa covered the rent as you all know and Touch promised to buy the family everything that’s missing in the house. Several anonymous donors also offered to help and one of them was referred by MTV. As far as the 30-day long online campaign is going, we collected over $6500 in only 4 days which is amazing!

Overall, moving Baby Ali into a new apartment was a very demanding task that took a lot of time and dedication mainly from Carol Maalouf and the Leb4refugees team but also from a lot of people who were taking care of the baby since Day 1. Rachelle, Lama and Rana spent hours every day watching over the baby, feeding him, buying him and his grandpa stuff, taking him to a doctor on their own expenses, getting him meds, trying to reach out to the media and other things. They were the first people I talked to about sharing the post and they were extremely helpful and caring. they were sick worried about the baby and wanted to know every single detail of the story and still ask for updates every day. It is not MTV’s report nor my post that got baby Ali out of the street, it’s the follow-up of these mothers and the Leb4refugees team. Carol made sure that Ali won’t be sleeping on the street the day she found out about him and did all the arrangements to move him and his family the next day to a new house despite the obstacles (Police, paper work and some NGOs) that she ran into. It’s very easy to show support online and share stories but things are very different on the ground especially when it comes to refugees and street children.

Despite this disappointing report, what matters the most is that Ali and his family are doing great now and they are enjoying their new shelter and the new life they were given.