Category Archives: Critiques

20.14% Voting Turnout in Beirut: Beirutis Don’t Want Change … Yet

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bm1 by Yasmine Darwiche

The Beirut municipal elections are over, the turnout was very low (20.14%) when compared to other regions, Beirut Madinati lost and the Beirutis List has won. A lot of people are upset and disgusted by the results, but I think we all knew deep inside that the likelihood of an outside list winning in Beirut is almost impossible especially when all the political blocks in the country rallied against them. So what do we make of these elections?

20.14% Voting Turnout: A very low yet insignificant percentage
bm
Beirut has always had the lowest voting turnout in Lebanon but this low turnout is due to the fact that a lot of Beirutis live abroad (35% is the unofficial percentage). We need a resident vs non resident stats to understand better this low turnout and analyze how many first-time voters supported Beirut Madinati vs Beirutis list.

Since these numbers are almost impossible to get, the simplest thing is to allow Lebanese expats to vote abroad in order to improve the turnout and give everyone the opportunity to vote. The current electoral law should also be changed for Beirut as it doesn’t make sense to have one municipality for all of Beirut. Decentralization is needed and areas like Achrafieh for example, must have their own municipality for example.

Social Media influence on Elections is still minimal in Lebanon
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If I look at my Facebook timeline in the past 3 weeks, everyone seemed to be supporting Beirut Madinati’s list with one or two exceptions. Everyone was sharing their posts, liking their pictures and videos and confident that they can win. Unfortunately, the growing online buzz for Beirut Madinati did not materialize on the ground and the influence of online social media activists and bloggers is still minimal in the electoral process but is definitely growing and we need to keep pushing further.

Beirut Madinati campaign did not go in vain: Change is coming

As I’ve stated in a previous post, the fact that a well organized non-partisan group is competing against the ruling class is already a major win. Beirut Madinati posed a serious threat to the Beirutis list and forced all the political and sectarian parties to rally against it. These parties have been fighting and attacking each others for years yet somehow felt threatened by a group of candidates that include academics, artists, a famous film director, social activists and the head of a fishing union. They forgot all their differences, joined hands and resorted to ugly and shameful electoral tactics to rally the masses against them. Funnily enough, it’s probably the first time they had to write down an electoral program.

The mere presence of Beirut Madinati is a win and I hope that they will keep their initiative running for the years to come and be even more prepared in the next municipal elections. We need more people that are willing to to step-in and participate actively in the political life to take back what is rightfully ours and Beirut Madinati has paved the way for that.

Things are changing, people are changing but change takes time. It’s a slow and painful process and might take years to achieve but we will get there eventually. We should not despair and surrender that quickly and keep in mind that initiatives like Beirut Madinati were not even possible 6 years ago.

Holding elections is a victory for all Lebanese
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Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and elections are of utmost importance in any democratic country. Unfortunately, our democracy is not a fully functional one and several blatant violations and electoral fraud were reported yesterday (Source: Beirut Madinati). Nevertheless, movements like Beirut Madinati, with the help of NGOs like LADE for example that are specialized in monitoring elections and detecting violations, can help promote further transparency and fight corruption and bribes.

I am still waiting for the official results to come out to see how close the numbers were between Beirut Madinati and Beirutis List but from what I was told, the difference wasn’t that huge which is a remarkable achievement.

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All in all, change does not happen overnight and all of us need to keep fighting for what we believe in even if we can’t reap the benefits right now. Incremental change is the only way to change the Lebanese system, bring down the establishment and get rid of corruption, sectarianism and replace corrupt and incompetent officials with decent ones.

Till then, let us hold the winning candidates accountable and expose them whenever they break their promises, which they probably will repeatedly.

Caught on Video: Selling Votes for $200 in Zahle

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fraud

The Interior Ministry should investigate that video and take the necessary measures. There has been talks since the morning about bribes in Zahle yet the ministry insisted there was no proof. This looks like clear proof to me unless the whole video is fabricated.

In all cases, this needs to be investigated.

Her: Wou iza ro7na 2adde bi2abbedna?
Deghre bi2abdik.
Her: Houwwe 3and Fattoush fo2 3am bi2abdo?
Eh bil Markaz.
Her: 2adde ya3ne chi $200?
Kam chakhess into?
Her: Ne7na chi 4.

Her: Keef Mnestelim el Massare?
Deghre bitsawtle min hone bto2bade min haydek. Henne Mandoubeen honeek.

Municipal Elections: All Polling Stations Should be Wheelchair-accessible

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isf The way they are carrying her up the stairs doesn’t look that safe to be honest

The ISF tweeted earlier today pictures showing officers carrying a woman in a wheelchair up the stairs in order to vote. It’s nice of them but elections sites, some if not all of them, should be wheelchair/walker accessible. All polling stations should be accessible for elderly individuals and people with disabilities as per the 220/2000 law, the 2007 Boutros Commission’s Draft Law25, the 25/2008 Electoral Law26, Enforcement Decree 2214/2009 and the 2010 draft law of Former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud.

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and alternative means of voting should be provided in case no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place.

Unfortunately not all security forces were as friendly as those portrayed in the above picture.

report

Nadine from NewsRoomNomad wrote more on this matter.

Someone is Suing MTV Over Their Road Safety Campaign

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A Lebanese lawyer apparently got offended by MTV’s brilliant road safety campaign and is planning to sue them. Sandrellah Merhej, the lawyer in question, wants to stop the ad because it is disrespectful to religious symbols (mainly Christian Saints in that case). She even stated that a protest was being planned against MTV but they decided to legally sue MTV instead.

Now isn’t that the most ironic thing ever? someone suing MTV for disrespecting Christianity while MTV keeps bragging about standing for Christian rights in Lebanon? What would be even more ironic and funny is for the lawyer in question to fall into a pothole and ruin her tires on her way to the hearing session.

I personally loved the ad and thought it brilliantly tackled road safety in Lebanon.

[YouTube]

sandrellah

Racist Joke on one of LBC’s TV Shows

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joke1

Elie Sleiman on MTV’s Menna w Jor featured two jokes from the LBC TV show Haram as part of his “Joke of the week” section. I’m really glad Sleiman picked up these jokes because one of them is extremely racist and inappropriate (it’s about black people and white chocolate) and that Pierre pointed out that it’s a racist joke, just a lame one.

To be honest, I have no idea how someone approved this script but then again this whole show “Haram” should not be on air.

Start watching at Minute 09:15

[YouTube]

Is This still Acceptable in #Beirut These Days?

Posted By :

hamad

PS: I cropped the lower part to make the picture less gruesome.

There are so many wrongs in this picture that I don’t even know where to begin, whether with the fact that these poor animals are being killed in a barbaric way in the middle of the street or the fact that there are still people willing to sacrifice sheep to welcome leaders.

And let’s not get started with public health issues. What a shame!

“Beirutis List” Apparently Got The Wrong Lighthouse in Their Logo

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lol

Update: Comparative picture done by Lina Ghaibeh.

The picture above has gone viral yesterday and shows the lighthouse in the Beirutis List logo versus the authentic lighthouse in Manara. I can’t confirm if Beirut-Madinati is behind it (couldn’t find it on their page) but I looked up old pictures of Beirut’s famous lighthouse, which dates back to the 1800s, and it’s very different from the one in the logo indeed. Even the new one that was built in late 90s doesn’t resemble the one shown in the Beirutis List. Assuming the curved stripes are meant to show a tie, the upper shape of the lighthouse has nothing to do with the two lighthouses we have in Beirut.

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I know that this is a minor detail and the slogan in the “Beirutis List” is the real problem for me to be honest, but still it’s funny how no one paid attention to this detail, especially if their whole campaign is about giving Beirut back to the Beirutis (whatever that means). If there’s something I’m missing here, please do share but this is the only lighthouse I know about.

5 Manara, 1960

Chi.N.N Got Cancelled

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chinn

Chi.N.N’s host and producer Salam el Zaatari just posted on Facebook that the show got cancelled following his appearance on MTV’s Menna W Jerr show. I watched his segment on Menna W Jerr and I felt like he wanted to end the show not Al Jadeed. I don’t know what’s happening between them but I wouldn’t have brought the matter live on another TV’s show.

In all cases, that’s too bad. I wasn’t a big fan of Chi.N.N as the hosts were witty and smart but a bit too vulgar. Still, some of their episodes were quite hilarious and they had the only decent political satire show in town.

Salam

[YouTube]

Get Connected to Syrian Mobile Phone Carriers from Within Lebanon

Posted By :

welcoem

Two years ago, I was driving from Kobayat to Andkit and we ended up somewhere where I got a message welcoming me to Syria and telling me to enjoy roaming with Syria’s operators. I thought that was normal given how close we were to the Syrian borders but apparently this also happens in the Bekaa and a lot of Syrians have figured out ideal spots to get coverage from Syrian mobile phone carriers and make calls to their home country at half the cost of Lebanese tariffs.

Ideal locations for Syrian coverage stretch between Hosh al-Harimeh and Ghazze in the West Bekaa, as well as the areas between the towns of Jdita and Chtaura, as well as the Kroum area in Zahle sometimes.

Needless to say, and given the current circumstances, a lot of Syrians cannot afford getting a Lebanese line to call and check up on their relatives but this is a security compromise as well and the signals should be jammed in my opinion. My friend got the message shown above right before an army checkpoint so this is inadmissible.

The authorities can easily set up special call centers for Syrian refugees to check on their relatives at reduced costs or even for free but this needs to stop. The worst part is that you could be charged for data roaming if you’re spending the whole day there.

Labor Day in Lebanon Should be Celebrated on a Weekday

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l1

Lebanon celebrates Labor day on May 1, which happened to be on Sunday this year. We usually get the next working day instead but since we are celebrating Easter today, Prime Minister Salam decided to just ignore that holiday that we are all entitled to.

The idea from Labor day is to give all this country’s workers a break to honor their contributions to Lebanon’s well-being and prosperity, or whatever is left of that. I just got back from Rome and nearly all stores were closing on that day, except few ones in tourist areas.

Since it’s not common for shops to close down on Sundays, labor day should be set on a working day (first Monday of May for example). If the government and parliament celebrate Labor day every day, that’s not the case for most hard-working Lebanese.

Let’s not forget also that domestic workers are also workers, and that they are still being treated as slaves in this country because our government still refuses to annul the Kafala system.

migrant