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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you thought the video of the Islamists who got tortured and beaten in Roumieh prison was outrageous, wait till you hear this story.
PS: The original story was published in French in L’Orient Le Jour
On June 9 2015, Omar was driving with his friend Samer to his house in the South when they were stopped at a checkpoint. Omar handed over his ID and other legal papers to one officer while another policeman was looking for illegal substances inside the car and found half a gram of weed with Samer. At this point, the officer confiscated and handcuffed Samer, and both men were taken to the police station for further investigation and ended up spending the night there.
The next day, Samer and his friend were dragged to an anti-drugs bureau in the South where they got humiliated and called all sorts of names. Then they were asked to perform a drug test which turned out to be negative. At this point, both men thought that the worst part was over, but one of the officers was looking through Samer’s phone conversations and all hell broke loose when he found someone called “Habibi”. Thinking that Samer was gay because he had a contact by the name of “Habibi”, he started throwing accusations and then two other officers brought Omar out of his cell, started beating him violently and torturing him by putting his head back and forth in cold water. Samer got his share of the torture and both were even electrocuted and forced to spill out names of homosexuals and drug dealers in Lebanon. After hours of torture, they called Omar and Samer’s parents and told them that their sons are gay. When Omar’s parents arrived at the bureau, the inspector refused to show them their son and re-assured them that he wasn’t tortured or beaten. “Walaw Madame, akid la2. Chou wen mfakra ne7na 3aysheen?” is what the officer said.
Both men spent the next 6 days in the South, where they got tortured on a daily basis and forced to reveal names of the gay community in Lebanon. They were later on transferred to Hobeiche police station in Beirut where they also got interrogated and detained for 5 days in a 20sqm cell that contained more than 20 prisoners. Afterwards, both were sent back to Saida and spent 8 additional days in prison with over 200 prisoners. The officer in charge there made sure to tell all the prisoners that Omar and Samer were gay. Omar’s nightmare ended 3 weeks later when he was allowed to see a judge for 2 minutes, and then signed a paper, paid a fee and got released. Samer on the other hand is still detained.
I honestly have nothing to say here. These men were jailed, tortured and humiliated for 3 weeks just because one of them had half a gram of weed and some dumbass officer thought they were gay because of a “habibi” contact. I heard Minister Machnouk is following up on this story and will punish those involved but this is not enough. This story is messed up beyond repair and the only thing Minister Machnouk can do issue a decree that forbids any ISF officer from arresting people for being homosexual and kick them out of the force if they do. It is no longer admissible to treat homosexuals as criminals and torture in Lebanese prisons needs to stop once and for all!
The picture above was taken in Lebanon back in 2006, however it’s not a gay parade but an anti-government demonstration led by the opposition back then. Needless to say, the parties who were organizing this demonstration (and those against them for that sake) probably had no clue what these colors stood for and would have never considered demonstrating in favor of same sex marriages.
We are still a long way from achieving equality in Lebanon but we will get there eventually as progression is inevitable. We need more awareness campaigns and further action to change our obsolete laws and achieve equality for women and for the LGBT community among other things. I’m sharing once again a Lebanese TV campaign against homophobia, probably the first of its kind in the Arab World.
I watched last night the season finale of CNN’s Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain which was shot in Beirut, and I hated every single bit of it except for the short interview with Joumana Haddad. I really had high expectations for that episode, but I lowered my expectations after seeing the comments on Facebook and it turned to be even worse than I thought it would be and did not reflect the words Bourdain used to describe our capital. In fact, if I didn’t know Bourdain, I would have thought he’s some clueless foreign reporter who’s visiting Beirut for the first time and still thinks we are at war. All he talked about for nearly 45 minutes was Syrian & Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, ISIS, Hezbollah, bombings, ISIS, 2006 war, recent suicide bombings, ISIS, the 1975-1990 civil war and more ISIS.
Let me just start by telling Bourdain that ISIS is far from Lebanon and its borders, and the map (shown above) does not reflect ISIS control in Syria, nor its threat to Lebanon. The Lebanese Army and Hezbollah are not even fighting ISIS on the borders but Jobhat el Nousra.
Moving on to the full episode, I went through it minute by minute and took notes along the way. The episode kicked off with the cliché mosque and church contrasts, and then of course showing veiled women walking next to lingerie shops or billboards. We are proud of this co-existence of course but it gets boring when someone mentions it 10 times in the episode and randomly shows pictures of the Virgin Mary or Jesus or a mosque.
Bourdain then took a ride with the Harley Davidson Lebanon chapter and they visited a snack shop in Beirut (Broasted Rizk) which I’ve never heard of before. They barely mentioned the food there and talked for about five minutes about the civil war, the war of the hotels back in the 1970s, thee Holiday Inn and other war-related stories.
Afterwards, Bourdain kept talking for few minutes about explosions and the civil war before he got to Burj el Brajneh camp in Beirut and continued his war talks by covering Syria, Palestinians, ISIS and wars in the region. He visited poor families and children and had Syrian food inside the camp. They also showed gruesome pictures of war victims which weren’t really necessary.
Bourdain moved back to Raouche, showing people dancing the Dabke and then ISIS fighters somewhere in Iraq or Syria I don’t know. He then mentioned that you can swim and ski on the same day in Lebanon, and headed to Ras Beirut to have lunch with his security guard in Beirut, who thinks that Lebanon looks a lot like 2006 now (Don’t ask me how). In fact, all they talked about over lunch was war, explosions and the terrifying ISIS. Of course after lunch, we got another cliché church-mosque-night club constrast.
Radio Beirut was next on Bourdain’s to-do list and it was a short but fun act. He met with Chino and Lebanese Rapper Hussein Charafeddine who was once arrested and mistaken for a suicide bomber.
Moving on, Bourdain then had dinner somewhere in Beirut’s suburbs in a Hezbollah area. Food looked nice but the guy had a machine gun in the kitchen for some reason along with Hezbollah posters all around. Needless to say, everything they talked about was the 2006 war and ISIS and of course Hezbollah.
Bourdain was meeting Lebanese Journalist and activist Joumana Haddad but he made sure to include more cliché pictures of sexy Lebanese women, then a Virgin statue, a Chanel store and the reflection of a mosque, because Lebanon is the only country in the world where you will find conservative religious women, women in bikinis, a chanel store and a mosque (ma hek?).
Joumana’s three-minute interview was by far the best part in this episode and Joumana impressed as always with her opinions and take on things. She explained to Bourdain that it’s not “awesome not to have a president for a year”, and that the chaos that we are living in is not something you’d want to experience for over a year and she’s right.
I then skipped the part with Elefteriadis because I don’t think he’s the right person to talk to about Lebanon or Beirut as a whole. I love Music Hall and I admire the things he has done to improve nightlife in Lebanon but he’s a self-proclaimed emperor who lives in an imaginary kingdom. That’s all I have to say here. Bourdain finished the episode by visiting a cafe which I haven’t heard of as well and that is managed by Syrians and Lebanese.
All in all, “Parts Unknown” is an American travel and food show where Anthony Bourdain is supposed to go around the world and uncover lesser known places and explore cultures and cuisine. That said, coming to Beirut and visiting camps and war-torn areas is definitely not the right way to explore cuisine and culture and the way he portrayed Beirut to the whole world was a rather negative one. It’s as if we are living in constant fear of a new civil war or of ISIS invading the country which is far from the truth. We trust and believe in our Lebanese Army and we’ve always stood as one against terrorism and hopefully always will.
There are so many things that Bourdain missed out on and that could have made this episode a much better one:
– Uruguay Street, Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael, Badaro and Hamra’s nightlife.
– Beirut’s rooftops and open venues.
– Authentic Lebanese snacks and restaurants in Beirut. Since when is broasted chicken part of our culture?
– Zaitunay Bay, Beirut Souks and Solidere as a whole.
– Beirut’s beautiful graffiti murals and art scene.
– The dozens of cultural and artistic festivals happening in Beirut.
– Shawarma, Falafel, Manakish, Knefe, Lebanese sweets, etc …
– A walk around in old Achrafieh and Hamra streets.
– A close look at certain NGOs and their awesome work (ex: LiveLoveBeirut ).
I’m just talking about things to do in Beirut here and I’m sure there is tons of other stuff as well. If Bourdain wanted to see how Lebanese are reacting to ISIS threats, he should have visited Tripoli and seen how vibrant and peaceful the city is right now. We are not living in denial, we know we have a lot of issues to deal with, but that doesn’t mean we need to live in constant fear of war and stop enjoying our everyday life.
That’s what Bourdain should have focused on instead of reviving the civil war and the 2006 war in his report.
Egyptian Prankster Ramez Galal thought it would be funny this year to invite celebrities to a fake opening of a hotel in Dubai, fly them on a private jet and trick them into believing that the plane is going to crash and that they need to jump in parachutes. His latest victim is Lebanese TV Presenter Nishan who totally lost it and start beating the guy next to him. To be honest, this is a sick joke and he’s gone too far this time, and the fact that the plane is actually in the air makes things even worse.
It’s like this guy is waiting for something terribly wrong to happen before he stops. He has already tricked in previous year Haifa Wehbe, Maya Diab and Cyrine Abdel Nour but this prank is the worst ever.
Two videos were leaked today showing security forces beating and torturing Roumieh inmates. The incident took place when the ISF raided the prison back in April to quell inmate riots. In one video, two officers are seen beating two half-naked prisoners on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs. Needless to say, nothing justifies beating and torturing prisoners no matter what they’ve done and these officers should be arrested and reprimanded.
Unfortunately, torture is still quite common in Lebanese prisons as around 60% of prisoners are tortured according to a report issued by the Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) last year. The same report stated that 52% of women arrested by the Lebanese authorities in 2013 and 2014 were subjected to severe torture.
I shared the above picture yesterday but I decided to take down the post and wait for the ISF’s clarification. They did end up tweeting around midnight that they couldn’t verify the picture or the motorist, and then they shared a picture of another motorist standing on his bike during a rehearsal for a military parade and that roads were exceptionally closed for these rehearsals.
The sure thing is that the policeman in the original photo is on the highway not a closed road, but I still can’t confirm if the picture is fake or not but it does look real and I even googled it and got no other hits. I even asked the guy who first shared it if he took the picture or not but he didn’t answer yet. I hope they investigate this further because there’s absolutely no way to justify a policeman standing on his bike on the highway, unless it was all closed but if that’s the case who took the picture?
On another note, I’m glad that the ISF is listening and engaging with the online community.
Update: The ISF is now saying it’s an old picture.