Category Archives: Critiques

Picture of Lebanese Director Simon Asmar Inside His Cell

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Update: I am removing the picture as requested by few readers. You can always check it on

Renowned television director Simon Asmar has been arrested lately on charges of murder and over financial crimes (bouncing checks). I wasn’t aware that he’s still in prison but the question is here: Who took this picture? The guard? Is he allowed to take pictures of prisoners while sleeping?

Tripoli Teacher “Disciplines” Student by Asking His Classmates To Beat Him Up

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A 12 year old gets beaten up brutally by his teacher and his classmates and the excuse given by the school’s principal is that such incidents happen everywhere in Lebanon. How about I group a bunch of guys and go discipline the teacher and the principal and pretend that it’s not a big deal? How would they like that?

Let’s wait and see what the Minister of Education Hassan Diab has to say about that.

A teacher in the northern city of Tripoli has beaten up a student in a brutal way with the aim of “disciplining” him, a media report said on Tuesday.

“The teacher A. Kh. of the state-run Disciplinary School in Tripoli’s el-Mina has asked students to brutally beat up their classmate Elie Kh,” LBCI television reported.

The student was “slapped on the neck with the aim of disciplining,” LBCI added. [Naharnet]


A Message from The President of LAU Following The Anti-Tuition Hike Protest

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Two days ago, it was reported that four students were “expelled” from LAU after they “urged other students to take part in protests” against the tuition hike. Based on what the LAU President stated and Al-Akhbar reported, the students were asked to hand out their university cards, were prohibited from entering the campus and referred them to a disciplinary board.

Now I don’t know what exactly happened but they were apparently charged of disrupting classes and asking students to join them in their protest, knowing that one of them is an LAU Graduate and no longer an active student (as stated in the President’s message). This being said, whether they did indeed enter classes and asked instructors to dismiss classes or not, the LAU Administration should not have suspended them IMHO, and I am glad they decided to retract from their decision after the protests that followed in both campuses the next day.

Nevertheless, I strongly believe that students should never disrupt classes and ask others to join their protest or sit-in, no matter how important their cause is. I used to join tons of protests and sit-ins during my AUB and LAU years but I hated students who barged into classrooms to ask students to join a sit-in or some demo. Note that I am not saying that to defend what LAU did as there’s no proof that these 4 students did violate the “Code of Conduct”, but only to emphasize on the importance of respecting university bylaws and protesting in an organized and proper matter.

All in all, tuition increase was kept as is, but LAU’s President vowed to “be more attentive to students needing deferred payment and/or installment plans and to soften the university’s policies on financial aid application deadlines and appeals.”

Dear members of the LAU Family:

In the past week, LAU students have expressed themselves eloquently, assertively and, for the most part, peacefully about the university’s tuition changes. From the moment we received the first petition on Sept. 30 stating the grounds for the protest, the deans of students embraced their concerns and invited all students on both campuses to meet with me for a discussion on this matter. On Oct. 4, I met with over 200 students in Beirut, praised their organized and valid lobbying, presented the academic and financial obligations of the university and engaged in an extensive Q & A. The students provided personal and moving testimonies to the financial hardships their parents face in this economically depressed country. While our financial aid budget increased by 14% to about 19 million dollars, it is evident that many of our students are hurting and that we need to do more. Increasing the amount of money available for financial aid has always been a top fundraising priority for me. Later today I’m meeting with students in Byblos and look forward to hearing their concerns.

In the meantime, both deans of students facilitated sit-ins on both campuses and disseminated the invitations to all students via email. In the past 2 days, the deans were present in the midst of the peaceful gatherings, encouraging students to speak out and carry banners, while reminding students not to violate the “Code of Conduct” by blocking buildings and disrupting classes.

On Oct. 7 in Beirut, after a peaceful gathering at LAU’s upper gate, four “students” entered a number of classrooms and one of them told the instructors that the “dean of students” has given them permission to address students and talk to instructors to dismiss classes. As unknowing instructors let their students out, the dean discovered the four in conversation with an instructor. He requested their ID cards and asked them to step off campus pending an investigation as they had violated the “Code of Conduct” and falsely represented him. Although one of the four had already graduated from LAU, we consider them all as LAU sons and daughters and the dean of students has since called to meet with each one individually. Under no condition were these four expelled or suspended from LAU.

On a related note, enrolled LAU students are, of course, allowed on campus. This is their university. In addition, I have instructed the Business Offices on both campuses to be attentive to students needing deferred payment and/or installment plans. The university has also softened its policies on financial aid application deadlines and appeals. In brief, all student cases warranting special financial attention will be attended to with the speed and care characteristic of LAU.

In the past few years, we’ve worked very closely with students to reform elections and strengthen student governance. Elected student councils have student members on every university council and the administration always encourages student representatives to attend all meetings. We need to continue to make sure that student input is successfully included in important decision processes at the university, including, those relating to the operating budget, capital projects and the strategic plan. The students are justified in complaining about inadequate equipment in certain areas and insufficient library hours. We are now taking the necessary steps to address these and many more requests that are needed to ensure that their LAU education is world-class.

In the past week, our students have exhibited a level of protest that is apolitical, well organized and about issues that matter. We are proud of our students and together we can build a stronger LAU and keep it a beacon of hope for all of us.

Thank you.


Lebanese General Security Claims Lebanese Passport Among The Best In The World

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Taken from Abir

Lebanon was ranked among the worst countries in the world when it comes to freedom of travel and visa restrictions according to the 2013 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index however the Lebanese General Security didn’t like these stats and released a statement today claiming the Lebanese Passport is among the best in the world.

I read their statement and to be honest I didn’t get what they are trying to say. Lebanon is indeed going through rough times and that explains the mediocre ranking of our passport, but we are very very far from being among the best in the world. Moreover, introducing biometric passports will not affect our ranking because the index is based on the freedom of travel and visa restrictions.

We all want the Lebanese passport to be ranked among the best but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.

Zaatar W Zeit’s loyalty program

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I got an email from ZWZ a month ago informing me that I can now collect points on my loyalty card through delivery. I didn’t understand what loyalty card they were talking about but as it turns out, it’s the card few of us got a couple of years back after the missing Z campaign and the rebranding ZWZ went through.

The weird thing though is that there was no mention of that loyalty card at the ZWZ branches when I’d visit, and the waiters would never ask me for my loyalty card, which is quite frustrating as I’m a regular at ZWZ. I even asked around some friends who always visit ZWZ and they never heard of such a thing. One of them doesn’t even want to go anymore there knowing he could have collected points for two years lol!

As for deliveries, I order all the time from ZWZ (almost daily during July and August of this year) so it’s a shame they enabled the delivery option in September.

Either way, I am glad they finally decided to promote their loyalty program as it is much needed for a brand like ZWZ. You can check more information about it [Here].

Drunk Dubai Driver given one month of jail time for killing Triathele Lebanese Champion Roy Nasr

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The driver was drunk and ran into the cyclists killing Roy Nasr and injuring two others and he gets one month of jail time? Is this some kind of sick joke? That’s unfreaking unbelievable!

I really don’t get it how a reckless idiot who kills a triathlon champion, a loving husband and a father of two like Roy gets jailed for one month and banned from driving for 3 months only. Someone should appeal this decision because it’s ridiculous!

A Dubai motorist who fatally injured former Arab triathlon champion Roy Nasr while driving under the influence of alcohol has been sentenced to one month in prison and ordered to pay AED200,000 ($54,451) in blood money to the victim’s family.

The accident occurred on the morning of September 6 when the 24-year old Philippines national swerved into a group of three cyclists, including Nasr, near Dubai’s Safa Park. Fifty-year old Nasr died, while his fellow cyclists sustained serious injuries. [Source]

Beirut’s Roman Hippodrome to be dismantled

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Picture from TheBeirutReport

Construction works at Beirut’s Roman Hippodrome that were suspended last year by the Shura Council, are set to resume after the Ministry of Culture “has approved (in the absence of a general director) construction across the remaining hippodrome grounds, so long as the developer reintegrates the wall into the basement level of the luxury housing development.”

I am not sure how much of the wall will be preserved nor how the Shura Council decision was overruled, but it’s quite disappointing to see such an impressive 1st century monument be replaced by luxury apartments.

If you wish to read more about it, check out Habib Battah’s detailed report for BBC [Here].

What the hippodrome could have looked like 2000 years ago

Another victim of Celebratory Gunfire in Lebanon

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I’ve already posted about the dangers of stray bullets and the need to ban celebratory gunfire in Lebanon once and for all. That’s not something so difficult to implement yet nothing is being done about it and innocent people are getting killed. If the security situation is that bad in Lebanon, let the concerned ministry start with the simplest things that don’t require security plans and could save tens of lives if not more every year.

The last victim of celebratory gunfire is a 28 year old man who was shot by accident by his friend during a wedding. This is not a tradition we should be proud of, this is a stupid act that could kill people and can easily be replaced by harmless fireworks.

I live in Detroit. Our priest at our church is Abouna Michel Cheble. Saturday night his brother in law Wassim, age 28 was killed in a wedding celebration in Baalbak. It was celebratory gun fire, and his close friend shot him on accident. Wassim left a wife, a boy age 5, and a daugther 10 months old. I know this is a tradition, all across Lebanon regardless of religion… but it costs many lives. I thought this would be a good blog idea about this topic/incident… I want to bring awareness to our people about this. I know we think we know everything but this is very dangerous.

Thank you Tom!

BlogBaladi featured in the WashingtonPost

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Source: CNN

I was asked to comment on the Naval Yard Shooting in Washington that took place last week by the Washington Post Beirut correspondent and my remarks were featured in the below [article].

In Lebanon, news of the killings was overshadowed by the diplomatic push for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons, which has eased concerns of a U.S. military strike on Damascus and the possible ramifications of such a strike for its smaller neighbor.

Najib Mitri, a prominent Lebanese blogger, said there was relief among Arabs that the shooter did not have a connection to the Middle East.

“What is happening in the area here is enough to tarnish our reputations already — the violence, the massacres. It’s a relief that this is not another opportunity to label us this way,” he said.

While Lebanon is no stranger to gun violence, plagued by corruption and groups that have not disarmed since the Lebanese civil war, the fact that a country like the United States was unable to prevent a gunman from breaching security at a naval base was unsettling, Mitri he said. He predicted a bolstered sense of national unity in the aftermath of the killings — something he said happened in Lebanon after recent bombings in southern Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli.

“The more you have weapons, the more you have crime,” Mitri said. “When something like this happens in your country, you stop looking at the political picture, and all that matters is that it needs to be stopped.”

While there are no clear studies that prove a correlation between Gun Control and Less Violent Crime, I will never understand why people are so eager to buy a gun and carry it around. Even in Lebanon where the security situation is bad, I can understand keeping a gun or any fatal weapon at home in case of a robbery but I would never put a gun in my car or carry it around for protection.

Personally speaking, I don’t even know how to fire a gun and I don’t have any weapon at home, because I am honestly not ready to have blood on my hands. If I ever consider keeping a weapon at home, I would join a Shooting Club, learn how to shoot and aim properly and only then buy a small handgun for emergencies.

The Best Time For Highway Pothole Repairs in Lebanon

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Source: Carol Maalouf

I posted almost a week ago about the huge life threatening pot hole that emerged out of nowhere in the middle of the Jal el Dib highway. I also wondered whether the authorities will wait for an unfortunate accident to occur before fixing it and I was wrong as they decided to go ahead and fix it today.

It’s always good to see the Lebanese authorities actually fix something but they always figure out a way to screw things up by picking the worst time possible for their repairs. Only few weeks back, they decided to close the Zouk Mosbeh bridge during Eid and today they closed down half the Jal el Dib highway during peak hours between 1pm and until this hour.

Every time they schedule their works at a very bad time, I try to make some sense out of it but I am unable to. The only (absurd) interpretation that I came up with is that they want to show everyone that they are actually doing something, so they pick the worst hours to let people get stuck in traffic and see them in action.

If they are not done fixing the pot hole by tomorrow morning, expect to get stuck an extra hour in traffic on your way to Beirut.

BUBqZhjIQAA5tTi.jpg large
via MTV

Update: We’re screwed till Saturday
Picture via Anthony Rehayel