Category Archives: Critiques

Lebanon’s New Traffic Law: Everything You Need To Know

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new law

I think we all agree that Lebanon needs a new traffic law and I’m glad that the authorities finally managed to draft a new modern traffic law but the question remains whether they will be able to implement it or not? I followed closely Kalamennas‘ episode last week, listened to what Gen. Joseph Msallem (head of public relations division in the Internal Security Forces) and Marcel Ghanem had to say and all I can say is that law enforcement officers need to figure out a way to gain people’s trust while spreading awareness on the new traffic law.

If the aim of the new traffic law is to fine people, then things will only get worse and people will find a way (wasta) not to pay the fines. If not, then the ISF should develop a strategy to 1) spread awareness on the new traffic law without fines 2) serve as role models and 3) gain people’s trust and encourage them not to break the law. Two days ago, I spotted four police officers breaking the law on my way from Jounieh to Achrafieh. One of them wasn’t wearing a seat-belt, the other wasn’t wearing a helmet on his bike, and the 2 others were driving recklessly and cutting off people. If some police officers are incapable of respecting the law and are not being fined or reprimanded, then things will never work out even if this new law is the one of the most modern ones in the world.

On another note, you need a proper infrastructure and decent roads to properly implement the new traffic law, which is not the case. Our roads are terrible and barely lit, traffic lights (if present) are not working everywhere, road works are lousy and hazardous, potholes are everywhere etc. Of course this is not an excuse not to have a new traffic law but the absence of any initiative to fix all these small issues endangering people’s lives makes us wonder if the government is serious about this new law or they’re just doing it to collect more money from the Lebanese.

Speaking of violations and fines, I summed up some of the technical details that were mentioned on LBCI in order to give you an idea about the new law. If you are interested in reading the whole 177-pages long law, you can find it [here].

All in all, we do need severe offences to stop traffic violations but we also need competent and trustworthy law enforcement officers to do the job, and we need the law to be implemented in all regions and on all individuals without any exception.

PS: The fines are so high in this new traffic law that one blogger thought of introducing the Lebanese driving ticket loan.

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In addition to the above violations, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or exceeding the speed limit will be also be punishable by law. The fines will be determined based on the severity of the violation.

An Empty Nejmeh Square In Beirut Turned Green For St Patrick’s Day

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Nejmeh Square greening 2015 (1)

I shared a picture yesterday of Beirut’s Nejmeh Square (Place de l’Etoile) as it turned green to celebrate Ireland’s National Day. The #GoGreen4PatricksDay initiative was organized by the Irish Consulate in Beirut and the Irish Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the Mayor of Beirut yet the one thing that almost everyone pointed out in that picture was the fact that Nejmeh square was empty.

Captain Philip Carey, currently serving with UNIFIL in At-Tiri, south Lebanon, said at the event: “Over 30,000 members of the Irish Defence Forces have served as peacekeepers with UNIFIL in Lebanon since 1978 and I am intensely proud to be here at this Greening for St Patrick’s Day, commemorating our role in restoring peace in Lebanon and celebrating the friendship between our two countries and people.”

I know for a fact that a small event was organized for St Patrick’s Day and Ireland’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Isolde Moylan, gave a small speech on the bonds of solidarity and friendship between the two countries and the symbolism of the Beirut greening, but it saddens me that the Beirut municipality and the Irish Consulate didn’t consider doing a major event to attract people and revive the square for at least one night. St Patrick’s Day could have been the perfect occasion for that as there are plenty of fun things to do, like everyone getting dressed in green and wearing shamrocks, as well as plenty of drinking games to play.

It saddens me to see the once so-popular Nejmeh square always empty nowadays but the problem is not that people are not going to DT Beirut anymore, but instead they are now going to Beirut Souks and its surrounding mainly due to the security measures always in place near the parliament and the road closures around it. I think it’s about time Beirut’s Municipality and Solidere consider reviving Nejmeh square by organizing weekly events and making good use of holidays like St Patrick’s Day.

70-235463: A Legal Hotline By MARCH Lebanon To Fight Internet Censorship

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hotline

Internet censorship is wrong and a lot of bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users are still being summoned or questioned by the authorities for posts or pictures they either published or shared. In the absence of a law that regulates internet usage (Fortunately?) and protects the freedom of internet users, such practices are questionable and the majority of those summoned usually don’t have anyone to turn to and aren’t aware about their rights. Moreover, it’s very stressful when you get a call from the authorities asking you to come over for a coffee and a lot of people don’t know how to behave in such situations out of fear. For that purpose, MARCH Lebanon has been working for months on launching a hotline to provide support, advice and legal representation for any online user who is being harassed by the authorities.

The hotline was finally launched last week (70-235463) and the aim from it is not defy the authorities but to raise awareness on everyone’s rights, ensure that legal procedures are being followed and of course defend internet freedom in Lebanon. A booklet will be distributed on a later stage to inform internet users and more specifically social media users of their rights. The hotline will be operational 24/7 and you can even report people being harassed or websites being banned.

Make good use of this number and help protect internet freedom in Lebanon. Many thanks to the MARCH Lebanon team!

Speaking of censorship and freedom, here are some of the posts I’ve written on this issue:
Censorship In Lebanon: Ekhirta ra7 to2ta3
Is Freedom more important than security?
The 10 silliest acts of censorship in Lebanon

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FAIL: Offer Your Mother A Housekeeper For Mother’s Day

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That’s just so wrong on so many levels! What were they thinking? And to make it even worse, there are special offers on nationalities :S

Update: Speaking of bad Mother’s Day ads, Mustapha just reminded me of this 2011 Klynn ad.

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Update2: The company that sent the shameful SMS apologized.

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Update3: Minister Sejaan Azzi has decided to close down the company in question. Thanks Rami!

Interview With The Lebanese Priest Who Sexually Harassed A Woman

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tsk

After a video came out showing a Lebanese priest called Antoun Farah sexually harassing a woman, New TV went and interviewed the priest as per his request. Clearly this guy is delusional but what I don’t understand is how he’s still a priest and is currently heading a charitable organization despite being involved in a previous scandal involving sexual harassment. Why doesn’t the Church kick him out for good and why aren’t the authorities doing something about his organization? What if he’s harassing members of that organization?

I’m hoping that New TV will follow up on that case and let us know what happens.

Here’s the interview:

[YouTube]

And here’s the original video leaked:

[YouTube]

Fadl Shaker Is On TV Instead Of Being In Jail

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Fadl Shaker is no longer hiding in Ain el Helwe, he is now giving TV interviews and trying to make us forget what he did with Al Assir a couple of years ago. I only have one thing to say here: Shaker is directly or indirectly responsible for killing Lebanese army soldiers, is charged with inciting sectarian hatred and undermining the reputation of the Lebanese Army.

Fadl Shaker belongs in prison and the authorities should figure out a way to arrest him.

[YouTube]

FAIL: OTV’s Lousy Take On Homosexuality

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Instead of tackling homosexuality in Lebanon in an objective and scientific matter, OTV decided to promote the show by asking whether homosexuality is a fashion trend or an illness. In order to be fair, I did bother and watch the show and while the doctors and Pierre Bou Saab were mostly spot on and made sense, the host kept asking the wrong questions and making wrong assumptions and over-generalizing.

Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. While people are affected by environmental and social factors, almost everyone agrees that sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice, and even if it did, no one is entitled to judge others based on that or call it an illness. Moreover, I don’t know why she assumed that more Lebanese recently are rejecting this “weird phenomenon” as she calls it. There aren’t any studies or surveys to prove that and if that’s the case, awareness is much needed then. We shouldn’t portray gay people as being different or weird and we should help them in their struggle against ignorance and hatred.

On another note, the host didn’t even know what LGBT stands for and thought it was a cool term gay people use nowadays. She also said biosexual instead of bisexual in the first part (Between Minute 3:20 and 3:35) and the doctor corrected her. I’m glad she didn’t bring any religious people but the show didn’t send out the right message and promoting it the way they did was a bad move.

Here’s the [first part] for those interested in watching.

I Don’t Blame Ali Mahmoud Or Terrell Stoglin For The New Sagesse-Riyadi Fight

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I am honestly sick of writing about Sagesse Riyadi games that end with a fight but I want to make one thing clear. Those who are arguing about who started the fight are missing a very important point. Fights do happen in all sports even in the NBA and players get suspended accordingly. It doesn’t matter if Stoglin hit Mahmoud first or not, they got engaged in a fight and should have been suspended immediately.

Having said that, the real problem are these IDIOTIC individuals who quickly join the fight and make things worse. There are cops and officials responsible for such incidents so let them do their job and stay away! I think it’s about time the Lebanese Basketball Federation forces teams to set up fences for the fans and make sure no one is allowed to step on the basketball court during a game.

Until then, enjoy the fights!

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

On a side note, I was honestly surprised by Ali Mahmoud’s reaction as I thought he was a rather calm and rational player but mistakes do happen and he might have lost his temper. Again it’s not a big deal as it happens in all leagues all over the world and players and teams get fined and suspended.

Why Zahle Having 24/7 Electricity Is A Big Deal

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Zahle1

The electricity problem in Lebanon is a very serious one yet we haven’t seen any significant progress in recent years. We have over a million Syrian refugees now, which means more electricity consumption hence more power cuts. Ever since I moved to my new house, I’ve been paying around $130-150 monthly for 10 amperes which aren’t even close to what we consume on a normal day. Take for example a regular working day where you get home tired and hungry after 2 hours of traffic, and just wish to heat up some food in the microwave and wash some clothes before you sleep. Once you turn the washing machine or the dryer on, you can’t use any other home appliance. Moreover, I can’t use my microwave if the electricity is off as it needs around 8 amperes to start and I would have to turn off the whole house just to start it. These are two silly examples on how the lack of electricity affects our every day-life and are nothing compared to the families who don’t have heating systems and have to rely on electrical heaters to stay warm and heat up the water. Of course I’m assuming you’re getting 10 amperes and not less as all generator owners tend to trick you. I’m lucky to have a decent guy run the generator.

This being said, Zahle’s move to provide its residents with 24/7 electricity is a huge accomplishment and a brave move against the generator mafia. We’ve all seen how the generator gangs demonstrated against EDZ’s initiative and even fired and damaged four transformers a couple of weeks ago. As a result and until the transformers are repaired, many residents will only get 12 hours of electricity and will be forced to pay generator owners for the rest.

Of course the government is to blame for everything that’s happening and the generator gangs are just filling a vacuum but corruption runs so deep in this country that politicians assign generator owners for certain areas and get paid monthly fees. The Economist wrote a long article on the Zahle incident and how bad the situation is. I personally believe we need more initiatives like the EDZ one to weaken these gangs and let people rally against them.

If some politicians and ministers wish to truly fix the electricity problem, they should start with their towns, cities and areas before tackling this whole mess. We need to decentralize this problem and any other problem as nothing will ever be accomplished otherwise. Zahle residents will not let generator owners win this battle because it concerns them directly and will significantly improve their lives and the city’s economy.

How Did Zein El Atat Become A Goodwill Ambassador? WTF Did I Miss?

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zein

The UN An organization has apparently appointed Zein el Atat as an ambassador of goodwill for human rights for the International Human Rights commission. This guy was banned at some point back in 2011 and how he’s selling his products in pharmacies and is a good will ambassador? How is that possible?

Update: The organization has no relation to the UN which is good news. I wonder how that entitles him to get a diplomatic passport though

Update 2: Organization is fake according to this article.

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