Category Archives: Critiques

How Saad Hariri Commemorated Nelson Mandela’s Passing

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via QifaNabki

Qifa Nabki argues that it was an insulting tweet as Saad Hariri referred to Mandela as a rare piece of brown gold. I do agree and don’t see why he (or his PR guy) had to mention “brown” or any color in his tweet.

Here’s the tweet in English:
“Mandela nearly reached the age of a hundred, and remained until the last minute of his life a rare piece of brown gold glittering over humanity, presenting live examples of the values of forgiveness, reconciliation, the recognition of the other”

Nice Try

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The picture above has been circulating online to tell people who are nagging about the floods in Lebanon that streets and roads get flooded everywhere, even in developed countries like the US, England and Australia. Of course floods happen everywhere but that’s not the real problem in Lebanon and I think Lebanese should complain 24/7 to the authorities about the shitty infrastructure and useless measures being taken during rainy days.

Just a few words to those claiming this is normal:
– People got stuck for hours (More than 2 hours on average) just because it rained a bit, not cause of a storm.
– There were barely any police units on the roads to assist people stuck inside their cars. Thumbs up to the Civil Defense units though for doing an impressive job despite being badly equipped.
– The authorities released a statement asking people to stay home after everyone was already stuck in traffic.
– A vital road like the airport one SHOULD NEVER be flooded by water and closed for 5 hours.
– In developed countries, the authorities take extraordinary measures for upcoming storms. This was just a normal rainy day. What are the measures being taken for next week’s Alexa storm?
– Shouldn’t there be a hotline dedicated to situations like that?

Emergency Numbers in Lebanon:
Civil Defense 125
Lebanese Red Cross 140
Internal Security 112 (Emergencies)
Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport 150
International Operator 100
OGERO (Telephone Service) 1515

Roadster Diner, Deek Duke and Zaatar W Zeit 2000LL Delivery Charges

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Zaatar W Zeit started charging delivery charges few months back, then Roadster Diner and Deek Duke followed. The charge is 2000 Lebanese Lira regardless of the distance and was set to maintain the quality of the delivery service, as I was told by all three restaurants.

Honestly, Zaatar W Zeit is the only one of these three that needed an improvement in the delivery service and I haven’t seen any major improvements ever since the charges were implemented. Roadster and Deek Duke have a perfect delivery system so the delivery charges are unjustified to me. In fact, it is letting customers tip the delivery guy less because they’re being charged for the service, so unless the charges are going to these guys or they got some raise, they won’t be too happy about it and quality will eventually drop.

Censorship In Lebanon: Ekhirta ra7 to2ta3 … (Eventually it will pass)

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The article below was my contribution to MARCH‘s monthly newsletter that was distributed all across Lebanon few weeks back. MARCH has been pulling an amazing job in raising awareness on the importance of freedom of expression as a catalyst for tolerance and acceptance of the other and in fighting all sorts of cultural terrorism.

I strongly believe we should be given the right to choose what to watch, read and listen to and I am offended by the fact that some people get to choose for us.

Here’s the article:

When The Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons were published back in 2005, angry and violent protests were sparked around the world, and several western Embassies were attacked and damaged. Even though the cartoons were meant to “contribute to the debate about criticism of Islam and self-censorship”, The Muslim World took offense in them and reacted aggressively. One of the Danish Islamists who helped fuel the uproar over the caricatures and led the demonstrations against the drawings in Denmark is a Lebanese-born called Ahmad Akkari. He was so infuriated by these cartoons that he took the hassle of traveling to several countries and fuel Muslim crowds against the Danish government.

The reason I mentioned this story is because the same Ahmad Akkari who organized demonstrations that resulted in the death of over 200 people, and had a big part in turning the issue into an international crisis, has come out a month ago to declare that he regrets taking part in these protests and apologized to the Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and to the entire nation of Denmark. He even went as far as saying that he didn’t mind publishing the cartoons anymore, which were reposted in the papers throughout Europe almost every year after 2005, knowing that he’s still a practicing Muslim.
Now some may argue that the Danish cartoons were indeed offensive to Islam and the Prophet (I personally thought they were), and should not have been published, but as long as they didn’t violate any laws in Denmark, nothing justifies the violent reactions that we witnessed back then. In fact, the outcome of those riots was more harmful to Islam than the cartoons themselves.

Going back to Lebanon, The General Security Censorship Bureau decided last month to ban a play about censorship written/directed by Lucien Bourjeily and produced by MARCH from public performance. Moreover, the head of the censorship bureau was highly offended by this play and based on what MARCH reported, “was shouting and saying the play was not unacceptable as we were making fun of the censorship bureau, and, according to him portraying a wrong image of them and that he will not allow it.”

Even though the first topic mentioned was of religious nature while the other was a play directed towards a governmental bureau, the common point is that both were artistic works aimed at promoting freedom of speech and self-censorship, and in both cases the reaction was impulsive and violent causing more harm than the work presented.
Having said that, I ask the head of the Censorship bureau to look at the bigger image, follow the Ahmad Akkari example, by reevaluating the bureau’s censorship standards and understanding the sacred values of our society and the importance of freedom of speech and accepting criticism. In fact, if there’s anything that history has taught us, is that the censorship of works of art never prevails and harms the censoring party rather than the artist himself.

That being said, let the Lebanese decide what is rubbish or not, what to watch or not, and don’t deprive them of their most basic right, the freedom of choice. Let the bureau be an example to follow by other institutions and its head a role model for the upcoming generations. Let the Lucien Bourjeily play pass and be the first one to attend it.
The greatest statesmen in history were the ones who accepted criticism and took it well. Winston Churchill himself stated that “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Open Letter From Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud To British Ambassador Tom Fletcher

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Drawing By Sareen

It seems Karl wasn’t the only one who replied back to British Ambassador Tom Fletcher’s Open Letter to Lebanon as Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud posted a letter on his Facebook Page after Karl’s reply.

I have 3 things to say about this letter:

– “Love Lebanon, and No Other” is not meant to be as a monopoly. We should love our country before any other. I am not sure how the Minister made the comparison between exclusive agencies and this slogan but it’s a terrible one.

– I fully agree with the minister that our real enemy is Corruption and I ask him to step out of all political blocks accused of corruption, including his current block.

– I loved the “Freedom of Information Act” idea and I would support it fully but I doubt that the UK Ambassador or any Ambassador in Lebanon can help implementing it. The Minister should work on gaining the Lebanese people’s support on this matter before anyone else.

Open letter to Ambassador Tom Fletcher

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

I read your open letter and I read Karl’s remarks with interest , I am a minister in the Lebanese government , and I happen to be a British citizen due to the fact that I lived and worked in your country for years .

I know where Karl is coming from; I appreciate not only his excellent command of the English language, but also his pride which should be without prejudice. I do agree with some of his remarks but at the same time I agree with most of yours. ,.
In my country we find it difficult to share, we hate sharing, we love exclusive agencies. One of the Christian Maronite political parties came up with a motto “love Lebanon, and no other”. We love monopolies.

I have a lot of respect for your country. Great Britain received me, and many other foreigners with open arms, and we received all of what the country has to offer exactly like every British citizen .Furthermore I do not want to fall in the trap of comparison. I love Lebanon my country, I respect my people, I think like you we probably have one of the most interesting cultures in the world, but this will not stop me respecting and appreciating other cultures.
We in Lebanon, at this stage of our long history feel very vulnerable, and we have little space to maneuver when it comes to relations with other countries. This should be clear for everyone to see, Lebanon is not only about Lebanese living in Lebanon, we have a duty towards the Lebanese Diaspora, many of them with dual citizenship, living in other countries around us and overseas.
Mr. Ambassador, yes your help is needed, but let us concentrate on the one enemy from within, this enemy is holding us back and keeping us from achieving any growth, it is the real enemy, more powerful than any other:” Corruption”.

I have been watching all our friends specifically our friends from the free and democratic countries, trying to help through financing NGOs among other things. I think they can do more.
I would like to suggest, a new approach supported by the United Kingdom towards our members of parliament. We need to have a new law concerning the freedom of information. The law should be simple; anything to do with public money should be published on the internet with free access to all. This will also help any country to achieve more transparency, it is to a certain extent available in your country, but transparency in my country is still a luxury we think we can live without.

I call on you Mr. Ambassador to adopt my unloved orphan “ Freedom of Information Act “ and help us by lobbying with all your friends , and ours, to bring this dream to reality. We need all the support we can get to achieve this goal.
This law if passed and applied will radically reduce corruption and will make Lebanon the dream country it should and could be.

Fady Abboud

A (Bloody) Car-Free Day In Tripoli

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Picture from ManalHamwi

I headed to Gemmayze today for the car-free day organized by Achrafieh2020 and everyone was having fun and enjoying their day, specially the children. Unfortunately though, the past two days have been also car-free in Tripoli due to the renewed clashes between Beb el Tebbane and Jabal Mohsen. The fights are getting worse every time and innocent civilians are paying the price every time. Nine people were killed (including 1 soldier) so far and over 50 were injured.

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Students getting evacuated from school yesterday

Some of the pictures I am receiving are horrible and I’d rather not post them to be honest. All I know the Lebanese Army should either let the two sides kill each other and then intervene or storm both camps and kick these gunmen out of the city.

Sunni Muslim fighters stand with their weapons inside a building inTripoli, northern Lebanon
Picture taken from Reuters

No Electricity in Mansourieh For A Month Now!

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[YouTube]

When I first heard the report and knowing how much MTV likes Gebran Bassil, I thought I’d ask my friends who live in Mansourieh first and it turned out to be true. They were getting 0 electricity hours for weeks and were living off the generators. As of last week things started to improve but the cable is not fixed yet.

Two questions I have to ask here:
1- I was told that a private company cut the cable by mistake or something like that. Why didn’t MTV do the extra effort and investigate the reason behind this delay? Why didn’t they contact the ministry or the municipality?

2- How come there’s no mention of this crisis anywhere in the news? I couldn’t find anything about it on the Minister’s Facebook Page or the EDL website as well.

On a last note and speaking of shortages, some parts of Keserwan are still without water due to the works in Sad Chabrou7. I have relatives who live there and have been buying water (Locally Not From Cyprus yet :P) for the past 2 weeks now.

Update: There’s apparently water shortage in MonteVerde as well, here’s why:

[YouTube]

The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections Launches Money-Stamping Campaign

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[YouTube]

The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) launched a campaign a couple of weeks back to raise awareness on people’s demands by stamping the 1000 Lebanese Lira bills with slogans. I saw few pictures of the stamped bills and I am not sure I like the fact that they are defacing currencies. I know it’s for a good cause but I always hated people who write on bills and put stamps on them.

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The same organization had launched a previous campaign asking Lebanese people to donate 1000 Lebanese Liras to the Lebanese MPs. I know it sounds hilarious and the way people reacted when asked to donate to politicians was priceless.

Civil Defence Volunteers In Lebanon

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Every time a major fire erupts in Lebanon like the one that destroyed the Safra Carpet Factory, the issue of crisis management and the effectiveness of rescue units is raised. Why were the fire trucks late? Why didn’t they have the proper material to extinguish the fire? Why don’t we have advanced equipment? Who’s responsible for all that?

The truth is the Lebanese Civil Defence unit is made out of volunteers and is funded and administered by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities. These volunteers are brave Lebanese who are willingly fighting for our safety and jeopardizing their lives sometimes. However and despite their utmost importance, the fire brigades lack funding, equipment, training and personnel in Lebanon. I have no idea why the Ministry or the government doesn’t assign a proper budget for these vital units but this behavior is undermining their work and sending out the wrong image to people.

Having said that, and in an attempt to raise awareness and share the Civil Defence work with people, members of five different fire brigades in Lebanon (Rass Beirut, Jounieh, Zouk, Faraya and Tripoli) have created a Facebook page where they share their everyday experiences and show us how difficult and challenging it can get for them. More importantly, they want people to memorize the emergency hotline 125 because believe it or not, a lot of Lebanese don’t know it yet.

I think it’s a nice initiative and a good start to reach out to the Lebanese Online Community and get them to interact with these courageous workers.

Check out the Facebook Page, Like it and spread the message.

PS: I am going to ask the Civil Defence if I could spend a whole day with them and share it with you guys.