Category Archives: Critiques

History Of Car Bombs In Lebanon

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According to this 1992 article from Time Magazine entitled “Lebanon: The Terrible Tally of Death”, our country has witnessed 3,641 car bombs during the 1975-1990 civil war period, which resulted in the death of 4,386 people (including 241 U.S Marines and 58 French Paratroopers).

I thought the number was pretty high and so did Karl (see below conversation) because 3641 car bombs during 15 years (almost 5475 days) means 1 car bomb every 1.5 days which is incredibly high. Having said that, another source “The Atlas Group” mentioned that only 245 car bombs, which is more reasonable, took place. From what I recall, the highest number of car bombs took place during the Elie Hobeika era.

Let’s hope we will reach one day in Lebanon where car bombs will become part of our history only.

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Help Rebuild Lebanon’s Torched Al Sa’eh Library

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I’ve been supportive of every initiative to help rebuild Al Sa’eh library in Tripoli, and I loved the book drive that was kicked off on January 8th and will last till the end of the month, but I was surprised to read about a campaign to collect $35,000 for the library to buy new bookshelves, a new front door and paint the wall .

Don’t get me wrong as I am not doubting the campaign but I thought one of Tripoli’s MPs or politicians would happily fund the project to restore the library as it was. I mean $35,000 is a ridiculous amount for billionaires like Mikati and Safadi, who happen to be from Tripoli.

We shouldn’t have to start crowd-funding campaigns for Al Sa’eh library. Since all parties condemned the incident and showed their support to Father Sarrouj, let them allocate a decent amount of money to repair the library and bring it back to life! Most MPs probably spend 35k on fuel for their convoys so it wouldn’t hurt their pockets if they donated money to rebuild Lebanon’s second biggest library.

Unfreakin-believable!

PS: If you wish to help or donate, click [Here].

How People In Muslim Countries (Including Lebanon) Want Women To Dress In Public

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Stats [High-Res]

The majority of people in seven predominantly Muslim countries prefer women to completely cover their hair, and not necessarily their face, in public according to a recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

According to this study, woman #6 who was without any headscarf, was chosen by 49% of respondents in Lebanon. Second most popular choice was woman #4.

I don’t know why buzzfeed chose to display this specific finding only as the original study is a more thorough and interesting one. In fact, it’s a comparative study between the Tunisian Citizens and 6 other different countries in regards to Gender Relations, Social Individualism, Secular Politics, Form of Government, People’s Wishes Versus the Shari’a , National Identity and National Pride, Concerns with Western Culture and Conspiracy, Religious Tolerance, Mosque Attendance, Likeability of and Attitudes toward Violence against Americans.

Here are additional findings related to Lebanon:
– Only 35% of Lebanese are proud of being citizens of Lebanon.
– 69% of Lebanese reported love as being an important basis for marriage (Against 7% in Pakistan).
– 44% disagree or strongly disagree that men make better political leaders than women.
– 50% of Lebanese like Americans as neighbors.
– Only 19% of Lebanese think it’s good that the army rules.
– 73% of Lebanese think life is unpredictable and dangerous in Lebanon.

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Are Malls In Lebanon Taking The Necessary Security Measures? The Answer is No!

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[YouTube]

I was watching this TV report and laughing my ass off because I’ve been to 5 different malls in the past week, and none of them had taken extraordinary security measures given the recent bombings. In fact, I noticed that some malls are not taking the current situation Lebanon is going through seriously and are not even making the slightest effort in terms of security and prevention.

Here are the malls I’ve been to and what I’ve noticed:

ABC Dbayyeh & Achrafieh:
– They are still using defective bomb detectors at ABC.
– There’s an additional security inspection at ABC Dbayyeh for both men and women which is good.
– There are metal detectors at the ABC Achrafieh main Entrance (not sure about the other entrances) but you can walk or drive in from the parking and not get checked.
– You are not allowed to park anymore in front of ABC Achrafieh (on the way down from Sassine) which is also good.

Le Mall Dbayyeh
– They are still using defective bomb detectors.
– They use bomb-detection mirrors but the last time the mirror was broken!
– I didn’t notice any extra measures taken at both entrance doors but I can’t confirm.

City Mall
– They have some special bomb detector that I haven’t seen in any other mall and they check the trunk of the car.
– I can’t confirm whether they took extra safety measures at the entrance door which is good

Beirut Souks
This place is a security nightmare for the management and the authorities given that it is wide open and has numerous entrances, however:
– They are the only ones equipped with bomb-sniffing dogs.
– Unfortunately though, they are using defective bomb detectors but they have security members all over the souks.

Beirut City Centre:
– They are still using defective bomb detectors.
– I didn’t notice any additional security measures taken at the entrance door.

To sum things up, the security measures taken at malls in Lebanon are not enough to prevent (God Forbid) an explosion or an armed attack or whatsoever, and I can’t freaking believe that defective bomb detectors are still being used. I understand that no one’s doing well economically in Beirut these days but things would get much worse for all of us and specially malls if an unfortunate incident takes place there.

Here are few recommendations that I urge all malls mentioned above and others concerned to consider for boosting security and preventing potential criminal and terrorist acts:

– Throw these defective bomb detectors in the nearest garbage bin.
– Get Bomb-sniffing dogs and put them at every entrance.
– Get high quality and effective bomb scanners.
– Set up metal detectors at every entrance and make sure there’s an armed soldier or ISF officer nearby (To prevent armed attacks mainly).
– Schedule patrols around the parking lot for a security guard and a bomb sniffing dog every half hour.
– Set up a metal entrance gate far from the initial one. This would help limit the damage in case of a suicide bomber.
– Set up No Parking signs around the mall.

One more thing I’d like to see implemented, even though it’s a bit ambitious, is to have car plate numbers scanned to verify if the car is stolen or not. Technically speaking, it’s very easy and cheap to implement but it requires a lot of paper work and a collaboration between the ISF and third parties. The idea is that information related to black-listed or suspicious cars gets constantly updated and shared through an application or a platform that mall security personnel have access to. Even valet parking companies could help if they are able to detect suspicious cars and report them but I am not sure how trust-worthy these companies are.

Note: If you have further (verified) information regarding the security measures taken, please do share them and I will gladly update the post.

Lebanese Ministry Of Interior & The Lebanese Traffic Management Center Launch the #منحط_دركي_لكل_سيارة Initiative

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Driving 3al Lebnené

The Lebanese Traffic Management Center (@tmc_lebanon) launched an awareness road safety campaign on Twitter on Sunday with the collaboration of LBCI, Annahar, LebanonDebate, the syndicate of Taxis in Lebanon and IDE academy. The aim of the campaign is to spread awareness and allow Lebanese drivers to share traffic violations on Twitter by using the hashtag #منحط_دركي_لكل_سيارة (Long and Unappealing hashtag).

I’ve already stated previously that TMC is doing a great job and I love how they’re always tweeting new updates but this campaign is very similar to what Cheyef7alak has been doing for years. The one big advantage they have is that they are linked to the Ministry of Interior and the local authorities and can actually handle some of the violations or problems raised.

For example, someone complained on Twitter about the potholes on the Zouk Mosbeh road leading to NDU, and TMC informed the concerned authorities who went on site and apparently fixed it. However when I crossed the road at night, it was more of a “ter2ee3a” than a job well done and the potholes started showing again already.

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In all cases, it’s always good when the authorities listen to people’s complaints and handle them and things could only get better if both sides cooperate properly. I think the next step should be a nice mobile app or website where people could submit complaints and violations and follow up on them.

Here are some of the pictures shared on the hashtag:

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Father Ibrahim Sarrouj Historical Library, The Second Largest In Lebanon Set On Fire In Tripoli

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Father Ibrahim Sarrouj

What sort of people would burn a library these days? This is a shameful and alarming act to be honest. Al-Saeh Library had more than 70,000 books.

Unknown assailants on Friday set fire to a famous library owned by Father Ibrahim Sarrouj in the northern city of Tripoli. “Firemen are trying to extinguish the blaze that erupted in Father Ibrahim Sarrouj’s library in Tripoli’s al-Rahbat street,” LBCI television reported.

The torching of the al-Saeh Library comes after reports that claimed the father had published a book deemed insulting to Islam. Bashir Hazzouri, an employee at the library, was shot and wounded on Thursday in the old souks of Tripoli. Al-Saeh Library is considered one of the most renowned libraries in Tripoli and the second largest in Lebanon.

Sarrouj says the library contains more than 70,000 books. [Link]

Lebanese Say: A Victim #NotAMartyr

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I’ve been meaning to write about this online campaign yesterday but unfortunately another explosion took place yesterday killing more innocent people this time in Dahieh. The #NotAMartyr campaign followed the unfortunate death of 16 year old Mohammad Chaar who was taking a selfie with some friends when the car behind them exploded.

Mohammad Chaar, just like Malak Zahwi and her mother and all the innocent civilians who died in previous bombings, are not martyrs but victims. They just wanted to have fun with their friends, go to school and get an education, or just live a peaceful life. They definitely didn’t want to die in a car bomb and then be exploited politically in their funeral.

Unfortunately though, there’s nothing this online campaign can do to prevent these bombings at the moment, but at least more and more people and specially the upcoming Lebanese generations are realizing the disastrous scenario Lebanese officials are dragging us into and hopefully will make them pay for it in the ballots.

This bloodbath must stop but I don’t see it happening anytime soon and I have no idea what we should all do to avoid getting killed by mistake by a suicide bomber or a booby-trapped car. Are we supposed to stop going to schools and universities, or quit our jobs and stay home?

Personally speaking, I am not changing my daily routine but I will try to go out less often in the upcoming weeks or months.

1526903_10153659068075497_181523935_n Mohammad Chatah’s family lighting a candle for Mohammad Chaar

French Actress and Singer Juliette Gréco Censored in Lebanon

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Via StopCulturalTerrorism

I really have no idea why this 86-year old French singer was censored on Serge Gainsbourg’s cd. If anything, it was Gainsbourg who sang something that has to do with Israel (Blasphemy!).

Juliette Gréco was born in Montpellier to a Corsican father and a mother who became active in the Résistance, in the Hérault département of southern France. She was raised by her maternal grandparents. Gréco also became involved in the Résistance, and was caught but not deported because of her young age. She moved to Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 1946 after her mother left the country for Indochina

Gréco became a devotee of the bohemian fashion of some intellectuals of post-war France. Jean-Paul Sartre said of Gréco that she had “millions of poems in her voice”.[1] She was known to many of the writers and artists working in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Boris Vian.

Gréco spent the post liberation years frequenting the Saint Germain cafes, immersing herself in political and philosophical Bohemian culture. As a regular figure at music and poetry venues like Le Tabou on Rue Dauphine, Greco became acquainted with Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau, even being given a role in Cocteau’s film Orphée in 1949.[2] That same year, she began a new singing career with a number of well-known French writers writing lyrics; Raymond Queneau’s “Si tu t’imagines” was one of her earliest songs to become popular.

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Here’s a [link] to the blasphemous song “La Javanaise”.

What Happened At Mohammad Chaar’s Funeral Is a Disgrace

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The funeral of 16 year old Mohammad Chaar, who was posing for a group “selfie” in front of the car moments that exploded in Starco, took place yesterday at the Khashoggi Mosque in Beirut. However, a brawl erupted when Grand Mufti Qabbani showed up at the mosque, and security forces had to intervene to take him out safely.

Whatever the reason is behind this brawl, it was a shameful act and a highly disrespectful one to the family and friends of the victim. The last thing they needed was someone turn their child’s funeral into a joke.

Here’s a nice [tribute] to Mohammad prepared by his friends.

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We are all Mohammad Chaar

All pictures are courtesy of Annahar

Getting Used To Assassinations In Lebanon

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Every time a political assassination or a terrorist act takes place in Beirut, we get the same cliché reactions from most parties. TV stations making up stories and spreading lies and propaganda, politicians condemning and blaming their opponents, few sides accusing Israel or Syria by default, some people expressing their anger and frustration on TVs and social media channels, others burning tires and blocking roads etc …

Personally speaking, I try to stay away from spreading rumors and sharing sectarian comments and do my best by focusing on the human and tragic side of the story. The two stories that I shared yesterday left me speechless for few minutes when I found out about them, and the interview with Mohammad Chatah’s wife and his son yesterday night was a very emotional one.

Mohammad Chatah was a role model himself for a lot of Lebanese irrespective of his political affiliations. The man was a brilliant economist, a humble and decent man and a moderate thinker. He was one of the very few people I enjoyed listening to in Lebanon.

Here’s what Qifa Nabki posted about him. [Mohamad Chatah (1951-2013)]

However, and even though we’ve unfortunately become immune to bombings and assassinations in Lebanon, this is not an excuse not to handle a crime scene seriously and take the proper measures to preserve the evidence and seal the bomb site right away. Security Forces might not be able to prevent bombings, even though I am sure they can do a better job than the one being done right now, but it’s no longer acceptable to see journalists, cameramen and random people walking all over the bomb site, politicians showing up with tens of supporters to make a statement on site, TV stations and random individuals recklessly rushing to film dead bodies and closeups on the cars, crowds gathered around the bombed cars and dead bodies etc …

It is our responsibility as Lebanese citizens to behave in a decent and respectful matter when it comes to an assassination like that and security forces should be the ones leading by example. A couple of pictures (see below) were circulating online showing Interior Minister Marwan Charbel visiting the bomb site with a group of 20 people and another showing the ISF Information Branch seemingly getting into an argument with the Lebanese Army Intelligence (not confirmed though).

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I am not interested in the details of what happened, but what I want is for the Interior Ministry and Lebanese Army to form a joint unit that handles strictly these crimes and deals with them professionally. We have the necessary units and equipment, all that is needed is a transparent and genuine collaboration between them. Moreover, I ask everyone to read how someone should react to an explosion or terrorist attack and spread it. Even if some people rush to help victims, they might be harming themselves, the victims and the investigation by doing so most of the time.

On a last note, I was told Gemmayze and Mar Mikhail were packed yesterday despite the bombing that took place earlier in the morning, and I am not sure if it’s a good or bad thing anymore. It’s one thing to get used to such tragic events and learn to move on and enjoy life, and another to view the death of political figures and innocent people as a normal thing. We should handle these matters the same way we express our love for life by acting responsibly and leading by example. This applies to every single detail in our everyday life not just bombings and assassinations. Let’s be the voices of moderation and reason Chatah was for a lot of Sunnites and Lebanese and keep people around us and younger generations away from extremism and sectarianism.

If we don’t do that, we’ll be digging ourselves a deeper hole.

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Picture via IBTimes