Category Archives: Critiques

A Tribute To Lebanese Army Major Rabih Kahil

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RabihKahil

When I first read that an army officer called Rabih Kahil was rushed to a hospital and urgently needed blood, I thought at first that an army convoy somewhere got attacked or that the officer got injured in battle while fighting terrorists. It never crossed my mind that a Lebanese Army Lieutenant Colonel and a member of the Lebanese Commando Regiment would get killed by a bunch of people who didn’t like the fact that he was yelling on the phone and passing by “their area”. Who in their right mind would fire at an army officer and who gave these guys the authority to carry guns and protect their so-called area? To make things even worse, Rabih wasn’t killed instantly and was left to bleed to death for over an hour, and the prime suspect (Hisham Daou) may have fled the country already.

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Rabih Kahil has dedicated his life to protecting Lebanon, all of Lebanon, and took part in the Nahr el Bared and Arsal battles to keep us safe and it’s both tragic and sad that he had to die this way. He put his life at risk every day to keep terrorists away and ended up getting shot in a personal dispute. I honestly expected Lebanese to be more outraged by this incident than Georges Al-Rif’s murder but that wasn’t the case probably because we are all too busy making garbage jokes and mourning some lion who got killed in Africa. There’s nothing that could possibly justify Kahil’s murder except the fact that we’re officially living in total chaos where people shoot others for fun or for the silliest of reasons. I refuse to live in such a society and there’s always something we can do as individuals and as a community. Quoting HMA Fletcher in his farewell blog post, “the real dividing line is not between Christianity and Islam, Sunni and Shia, East and West. It is between people who believe in coexistence, and those who don’t. If Lebanon doesn’t work, build a new Lebanon. It is time to thrive, not just survive”. If your town’s mayor is corrupt and his kids go around carrying guns and threatening people, report him and/or stand against him. If a local MP is abusing his powers, speak out against him. If a family member is breaking the law, don’t let him and the list goes on. Needless to say, the worst possible way to react to such incidents is by encouraging more death (asking for the death penalty) or even worse asking for the army to rule the country. For some reason, and despite everything that’s happening in Lebanon, some people don’t seem to appreciate the little freedom of expression we have and that a lot of groups have been trying to eliminate for years.

funeral via NNA-LB

The Lebanese Army is celebrating its 70th anniversary today and Rabih Kahil is being celebrated as a martyr instead of enjoying the day with his brothers at arms. Kahil wanted to die defending his country in Arsal and Nahr el Bared and he will always be remembered and hailed as a hero for protecting us and keeping terrorists on the other side of the border.

May he R.I.P.

Join Today’s Anti-Corruption Demo In Beirut!

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tol3it

There’s an anti-corruption demonstration planned today at 5PM in front of the Grand Serail in Beirut. The aim is to rise against corruption, pressure our politicians to find a quick solution for the garbage crisis and demonstrators are being asked to bring their garbage with them to dump them in front of the Serail.

To be honest I am not a big fan of demonstrations especially when there’s no action plan after it but I cannot but support any movement against corruption and against the rotten political class in Lebanon. The government knew Sukleen had a deadline, Minister Mashnouq was aware of that as well yet they didn’t have any contingency plans to contain a probably garbage crisis and the result is what’s happening today. Over 5000 have agreed to join the demo this afternoon and I hope the number on Facebook will be reflected on the ground. A “fachit khele2” is much needed and people should go and throw their garbage in front of the parliament instead of throwing and burning them recklessly. Let’s also try to throw an official in the garbage like they did in Ukraine.

The fact that no one is collecting garbage is not an excuse to throw it all over the place and complain about no one collecting it, but a reminder that this garbage right in our faces is being dumped elsewhere without any recycling or any waste management and is polluting some small village and threatening its residents. We need to to stop relying on the government and start recycling and reducing waste ASAP. Let’s start recycling at home and be role models for others to follow. Today we can make a stand and make headlines on TV but everything will go in vain if we go back home and do nothing the day after. What matters is what happens after the demo.

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The Real Problem In Lebanon Is The Lack Of Recycling

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zz Picture via Imad Bazzi

Sukleen’s term has expired on July 17th and the company is no longer collecting garbage, the deadline set by the Naameh residents expired yesterday and the road to the landfill is closed once again, Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq still has no idea on what to do next and has informed the municipalities that they will need to handle their garbage until further notice. The proposed solution is to designate new landfill locations to replace the Naameh one but all municipalities are refusing this option because they simply don’t want to end up with a landfill as big as the Naameh one. At the same time, Naameh residents are fed up and they have every right to close the landfill, noting that it was originally supposed to operate for 6 years only yet has become the country’s primary landfill (65% of the Lebanese garbage) for 17 years now.

As far as Sukleen is concerned, they did their job and are not too worried about what happens next. Beirut Municipalities, on the other hand are not prepared to handle this task and they are already panicking and setting up temporary dump sites in inappropriate locations, noting that most municipalities are indebted to Sukleen.

How do we get out of this mess?
The problem is a political one as is always the case in Lebanon, and Minister Mashnouk can’t really do anything until all parties agree on a new company or on renewing Sukleen and setting up new landfill locations, but we could have avoided all that if the authorities started years ago recycling campaigns and encouraged municipalities to invest in recycling instead of wasting all their money on Sukleen’s services, noting that we are currently paying almost $170 per 1 ton of garbage between sweeping, cleaning, sorting, packing and dumping, which is a relatively high amount.

Given that at least 60% of our solid waste is organic in Lebanon, the most effective solution is to implement an adequate strategic waste management plan and encourage recycling. It is in every municipality’s interest to invest in recycling and promote environmentally friendly solutions to save money, protect the environment and more importantly their own residents. Take for example Sweden where people recycle almost 47% of their waste and use 52% to generate heat; I’m not saying we will achieve that in 1 or 2 years but things have been dragging for 20 years now and the worst thing we could do right now is repeat the Sukleen and Naameh experience, add to that the illegal landfills in Saida, Tripoli (Baddawi) and Tyre.

If some municipalities are too corrupt or don’t understand the benefits of recycling and waste management, why doesn’t the government force them to spend 30 or 40% of its budget on recycling instead of paying debts to Sukleen? Why doesn’t the ministry give them long-term credits to encourage waste management and incentives based on the results achieved? Just like the electricity problem in this country, I believe municipalities need to take personal initiatives like Zahle did and force it on the authorities.

Until then, enjoy the smells :)

Death Penalty Is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

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deth

Tareq Yatim is a cold-blooded murderer and a horrible human being but death penalty is not the way he should be punished and we need to stop cheering for capital punishment every time an innocent person is killed. Taking away someone’s life should never be an option and the Lebanese society needs to stop promoting it as a quick fix solution. There are better alternatives like being jailed for life without parole. I understand that there’s corruption in this country and some criminals are walking out free but that’s not an excuse to keep pushing for capital punishment.

Killing Tareq won’t bring George back to his family and sentencing him to death may not be as swift as people think it is as the process takes time and might involve several trials and hearings and needs the (non-existing) president’s approval. More importantly, and given how corrupt our system is, applying the death penalty can be arbitrary and politicized (in other crimes) and you can’t undo a mistake once you discover a man has been executed for a crime he did not commit. I know everyone is angry and pissed off at what happened but there are many ways to support and comfort George’s family like raising funds to help the family for example.

Let’s not forget Walid el Mohtar was also killed but by mistake on that same day. Should we sentence his killers to death as well? Why isn’t anyone doing so? We all mock and criticize Saudi Arabia and Iran for executing prisoners every year yet this is the first thing we ask for when someone is killed. Capital punishment has never worked, has never stopped criminals like Yatim and goes against almost every religion and code of ethics out there.

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Justice For Georges Al-Rif And Then What?

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rif

Update: There’s an online campaign to help support George’s family financially. You can help out [here].

George Al-Rif is a 45 year old man who got into a dispute over right of way on the airport road and was chasing the car that hit him to report it to the police. Unfortunately, as soon as they got to Achrafieh, the other driver, a guy called Tareq Yatim, went down and started beating and stabbing George. George was critically injured before dying of his wounds in the hospital. The victim had four children. A video emerged showing the attack and the least I can say is that it’s quite shocking. Yatim, who was arrested later on and confessed to the attack, just stood there beating and stabbing the guy in broad daylight in the middle of the street.

What’s even more shocking is that the murderer did not hesitate to kill his victim over the silliest of disputes, and what some media reports stated that “he was under the influence of drugs” is quite pathetic and misleading. Nothing justifies stabbing and killing a man like that and the sad part is that there are tons of people like Yatim out there who are “well protected” and would kill or assault other people over the silliest of reasons.

This is exactly why I don’t get into a fight with anyone on the road because there are sickos out there waiting for a chance to empty their gun or use their knife. Sadly enough, staying away from fights could also get you killed in Lebanon, just like Walid el Mohtar, a Lebanese who was shot dead by mistake yesterday just because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is the jungle we live in and the worst thing we could possibly do is turn it into a religious matter because people like Yatim are animals on the loose and know no religion or law. Only few days ago, some website was bragging about two young Lebanese “Christians” beating a Lebanese “Shiite” in broad daylight because he insulted the cross at the heart of Jounieh. Gladly the incident was a minor one but I thought the way the story was reported was terrible and that we should not incite to violence or sectarianism under any circumstances. As long as we are capable of containing the situation and calling the cops to do their job, we should avoid resorting to violence.

George Al-Rif and Walid el Mohtar unfortunately died and no amount of justice will bring them back to their family. I just hope that their killers will rot in jail and won’t be able to get out anytime soon because of the “wastas”. Until then, I ask you to stay away from fights and avoid any kind of dispute on the road or on the street because you might end up facing a cold-blooded killer like Yatim. Some people might say that keeping a gun or a knife in your car is a must in this country, I say that it makes things even worse for everyone. Keep your weapons at home and stay away from fights on the street. If you ever face someone like Yatim, run him over or just drive away and if he’s chasing you down, drive to the nearest police station, that’s what I would do.

[YouTube]

A Lebanese University Graduate Begging For Money In His Graduation Gown

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News6824323-635725514113548774

Amir Fakih, a newly grad from NDU, decided to raise awareness on youth unemployment in Lebanon by wearing his university gown and roaming the street begging for money, working as an Arguile guy and selling flowers. The idea was to portray the possible future careers of a Lebanese graduate given the lack of jobs and that the Lebanese economy is in very bad state.

Needless to say, there’s nothing wrong with any job out there but you’d expect to land a better job when you spend years and thousands of dollars to earn a decent university degree. I don’t know much about the unemployment rates in Lebanon as there are no clear studies but the real problem lies in the guidance being offered by the government (if any) and the different educational institutions. Ideally, the Lebanese Ministry of Labor should provide studies on career opening by industry to help students choose majors that could help them secure a job once they graduate.

In all cases, I don’t know what Amir majored in but he seems to be good in marketing himself and I hope he gets the job he wants sometime soon.

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vi LBCI

Let’s All Remember Women Rights In Lebanon Because Of Chris Brown

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Ever since I posted about the Chris Brown giveaway, I’ve been receiving comments from people telling me that I shouldn’t promote him because he beat his ex-gf Rihana and that would send a wrong message to all those who are attending the concert. Added to that, Beirut.com surprisingly shared an article on why (and I quote) “attending Chris Brown’s concert would be another slap in the face to all the woman who have suffered at the hands of husbands, boyfriends and fathers in this country? And a slap in the face to all the hard work that KAFA has been doing to combat these societal problems?”, then asked to boycott Brown’s concert and make “this disgusting guy “khalas” in Lebanon “Forever”.” (I have no idea what this last sentence means by the way).

I’m at loss for words to be honest. It’s as if we got bored of boycotting artists because they’ve been to Israel so we started coming up with new reasons to boycott them. In fact, maybe they are right, maybe we should no longer tolerate the likes of Chris Brown and pressure the Lebanese authorities to halt all concerts this summer and stop all artists who may pose a threat to our society or could negatively influence the young and innocent generations, even if this means harming our economy and causing major financial losses to Lebanese companies. Maybe we should start a new movement and make Rihanna’s insightful song “Bitch Better Have My Money” its anthem.

I say we should boycott any artist who at some point in his life:
– Drank too much alcohol and got drunk.
– Used illegal substances.
– Cheated on his wife or gf/bf.
– Posed naked in front of the camera.
– Didn’t properly use hashtags on Instagram.
– Used the F*** word in a concert or during an interview.
– Was fined for speeding or parking illegally.
– Answered his cellphone at the theaters.
– Didn’t call his mother on her birthday.
– Didn’t visit his grandma on Christmas.
– Burned $100 dollar bills to light up his cigar.
– Smoked an Arguile.
– Had a Chicken Shawarma without garlic.
– Claimed that Hummus is not Lebanese.
– Denied the fact that Lebanon is the center of the Universe.

And the list goes on and on …

Rihanna-and-Chris-Brown-2015

In all cases, I heard rumors that Riri will join the movement soon but she’s currently too busy partying with Chris Brown and helping him out with his new house.

Note: I am in no way trying to compare what Chris Brown did to speeding or shawarma. He s a terrible human being who served time for what he did but that’s not the point here. What I’m referring to is how we barely make any effort when women are abused in Lebanon but get all excited when it’s about Rihanna. Our government has been refusing to pass a law to protect women for years yet we don’t boycott them or hold them accountable. When NGOs call for demonstrations to stop domestic violence hundreds only show up. Let’s set our priorities straight once and for all.

A Few Words On Lebanese Fancy Weddings & Lebanese Weddings Abroad

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Picture 6110

It’s wedding season again and more and more couples in Lebanon are choosing to wed outside Lebanon for some reason. Last year I got a couple of invites for weddings abroad and this year I already have 3 weddings to attend but I probably won’t end up going to any because 1) my wife just delivered and it’s too soon to travel, 2) I’d rather get the couple an expensive wedding gift than pay for tickets and a hotel stay and visa fees of course to attend a wedding and 3) because none of the couples are close friends or family members. Some people might also argue that couples getting married outside should pay for our travel expenses if they really want us to be there, and a funny video on this matter went viral ten days ago but I don’t agree with it. To begin with, the fact that Lebanon is a Third World country doesn’t mean people can’t get married outside and I wish people would stop criticizing other people’s weddings. Whether it’s a fancy wedding, an average wedding in an outdoor venue, a wedding with a 45 minute zaffé or an indoor wedding with loud music and nasty food, a wedding is the happiest day in the life of a couple and we should respect that. If the couple decided to spend $10,000 or $2,000,000 on their wedding, this is their business and not ours. If you are too annoyed by weddings, simply don’t attend them.

Going back to the couples getting married abroad, I’ve had that discussion once with a friend of mine and we even did the financials and it actually makes a lot of sense for a Lebanese couple to go for that option especially when they are forced to have a big wedding (300+ people). Getting married in Greece or Cyprus or anywhere in Europe is much cheaper than having a big wedding in Lebanon, even if the couple is planning to cover trip expenses for the close family and few selected friends. Therefore, it’s not just about pretending to be fancy or cool abroad, but it’s a smart move financially speaking, and even if the couple just wants to sound cool, it’s their decision and we should respect it.

As far as fancy weddings are concerned, the amount of money a couple wishes to spend on their wedding is none of our business. If a bride wants to pay $100,000 for her wedding dress and have a 3-day wedding and can afford it, then good for her. If I were a millionaire, I would have probably invited all my friends and family to a weekend abroad and donated all the wedding gifts to charity.

All in all, what I’m trying to say is that a wedding is a very special day for a couple and we as friends or family members should be happy for the couple and make the best out of it, even if it’s the most horrible wedding ever. The only exception is when the couple is planning to destroy a Cedars forest to build their wedding venue, or set a forest on fire because of their fireworks.

PS: Aside from the wedding thing, the velfie guy has some hilarious videos, like the Kale/Quinoa one which is very true.

How Do You Punish A 15 Year Old Boy Who Assaulted & Killed His 9-year old friend?

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child 9 year old child Mahmoud Mohamad Khodr al-Assi was found murdered in Bchamoun – via MTV

Mahmoud Mohammad Khodr al-Assi is a 9 year old boy who went missing on Friday afternoon and was later on found dead at a construction site in Bchamoun and his body covered with sheets and dirt. This is probably one of the most shocking crimes I’ve heard of in Lebanon, not just because of the way the crime was perpetrated but because the killer is only 15 years of age.

Assi’s friend was arrested later on, and he confessed to killing Mahmoud over a dispute. Some reports are saying Mahmoud was sexually assaulted by his friend and wanted to tell his parents but this is not confirmed yet. Assi’s family has reacted to the incident by calling for the death penalty levied against the 15-year-old killer, which is quite harsh if you ask me.

Just to make myself clear here, I’ve always been against the death penalty as a punishment but what I’m debating right now is whether juveniles who commit crimes should get the same sentences as adults would. I’m not sure how the Lebanese law works but I know for a fact that some countries treat juveniles differently from adults as they consider that a juvenile’s brain is not fully developed, and that young people have less responsibility for their actions than adults and greater prospects for reform. I know it’s quite disturbing to think that a 15 year old is capable of such a thing, but at the same time asking for the death penalty also implies killing this 15 year old who’s just a kid, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

If anyone has any information on how the Lebanese law treats murderers under 18 years of age, please do share.