Category Archives: Critiques

Maaloula Nuns, Abducted Syrian Priests And Bishops Are Not A Lebanese Priority

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Syrian refugee children facing ‘catastrophic’ life in Lebanon – via I am Not A Tourist Page

One of the biggest problems we have in Lebanon is that we don’t know how to set our priorities straight. We’ve been facing four tough years due to the regional tensions and war in Syria yet we’ve done nothing to keep our country safe and away from trouble. We’re heavily indebted, poverty is on the rise, traffic jams are everywhere, infrastructure is aging and deplorable, there’s no crisis-management yet officials seem more concerned about throwing accusations at each other and saving the nuns of Maaloula and the two kidnapped bishops in Syria.

The reason why I mentioned Maaloula and the two Orthodox Bishops (+ a priest) case is because they are being given so much importance in the Lebanese media and among Lebanese Officials, that you’d think Syria is not going through a devastating war with hundreds of innocent civilians being kidnapped and killed on a daily basis, and that the only highlight in Syria are the 12 Maaloula Greek Orthodox nuns and the two Bishops that were taken hostage by armed groups. While I totally understand the importance of Maaloula for Christians in the region and world-wide, and I condemn the kidnapping of religious people (and people in general), I don’t see why Lebanese officials, whether security people or politicians, are seeking out Qatari help to free non-Lebanese nuns and bishops while ignoring more urging and relevant matters.

Just to be clear here, I am all for helping out our Arab brothers and sisters but Lebanon helping others in the current circumstances is like asking a person who doesn’t know how to swim to save a drowning man and begging Qatar for help in a Syrian matter seems a bit irrational to me. There are Lebanese still kidnapped and missing in Syria and the proof is this man (Yaacoub Chamoun) who came back after 27 years in a Syrian prison, there’s a Lebanese cameraman called Samir Kassab that’s been missing since October in Syria, there are Lebanese (Including priests) that got kidnapped and are still missing, add to that the Lebanese families in Beb el Tebbane, Jabal Mohsen, and Akkar that are paying the price for the daily armed clashes there, the Lebanese families that survived the Indonesian boat disaster and are being threatened by the smugglers not to testify against them, the Arsal families who are helpless and are no longer able to contain the flux of Syrian refugees, and thousands of other Lebanese families living in deplorable conditions and in need of help.

If we want to talk about the importance of Maaloula as a historic Christian village where people still talk the language of the Christ (Aramaic), let’s try and keep the Kadisha valley on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, let’s figure out a way to grow more Cedars instead of building wedding venues next to them, let’s safeguard whatever is left from the Harissa mountain that’s filled with ugly buildings now, let’s try to save some of Beirut’s ruins before they get replaced by skyscrapers etc …

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By Armand Homsi

Even if we assume that all these Lebanese issues can be dealt with later on, which is not the case, and we want to help our Syrian brothers and sisters in distress, how can one disregard the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the hundreds of thousands of children living in terrible conditions? Have you seen the tents under which they are living and the dangers that these children are exposed to? If not, then check out the pictures being shared by Journalist Carol Maalouf who spent the last two days in Arsal trying to help out the refugees there and shed the light on their condition.

There’s no need for me to elaborate further on the Syrian Refugees crisis in Lebanon because everyone knows how bad it is: Syrian women and children are being sexually harassed and abused in Lebanon, illegal and inhuman organ trading is thriving among Syrian refugees, Lebanese municipalities are imposing racist curfews against Syrians, illegal Syrian businesses are threatening Lebanese ones mainly in the Bekaa, beggars are all over the street and the list goes on and on.

Having said all that, it’s time we set our priorities straight as Lebanese citizens and stop listening to what all our officials are saying and focus on the problems that concern us as Lebanese and the little things that matter the most. There are plenty of NGOs and initiatives to help out Lebanese & Syrian families in distress so let’s give them a hand and take initiatives ourselves. Let’s stop being so hateful, racist and sectarian and preach love. Let’s be more productive and less destructive in our actions. Let’s stop sticking our noses in other countries’ affairs and mind our own for a change. Let’s listen to what Nelson Mandela said about love since all Lebanese apparently became so fond of him after he died few days ago:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I would love to see the Syrian nuns and bishops freed the soonest, and I am sure they would love as Christians to see us take good care of their own people (Muslims & Christians) who are suffering in Lebanon. After all, any country’s top priority has always been its citizens and the people residing in it first and foremost and there’s nothing that can’t be done if we as Lebanese hold our ethics and values above empty and shortsighted speeches and propaganda currently being delivered by ALL sides.

Picture taken by Carol Maalouf

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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tourists-leave-lebanon - Copy
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.

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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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:


The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections Launches Money-Stamping Campaign

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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.


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.