I got stuck for more than 3 hours yesterday in traffic due to protesters blocking roads in solidarity with the army. I tried to find a convincing reason for which people might block roads and highways at peak hours and the only conclusion I came up with is that they are either paid or stupid.
I don’t think I need to say more on this issue, specially when the Lebanese Army asked them to stop doing such things and go back home.
Three key events have helped put the civil marriage topic back on the table in the past few weeks in Lebanon: Kholoud & Nidal’s attempt to register a civil marriage, President Michel Sleiman’s stances and Mufti Qabbani’s unacceptable remarks on civil marriage. However, despite all that, I still believe we are far from legitimizing civil marriage in Lebanon due to many obstacles, mainly the influence of religious authorities and the lack of officials (MPs/Ministers/Politicians) brave enough to take the initiative.
One should not also forget the buzz created by Lebanon’s online community following Kholoud and Nidal’s marriage as it was and still is very important to keep the topic alive and put some pressure, even if limited, on officials and politicians. For example, the Facebook Group “تزوجنا مدني … و عَ قبالكن” has surpassed 16,000 members in just few days and the unilateral support for legalizing civil marriage on Twitter and Facebook has exceeded all expectations.
Added to that, sectarianism is at its highest these days in Lebanon due to tensions regionally and locally, a factor that is forcing many MPs and Ministers, including PM Najib Mikati, to stay away from such adventures (Not that I agree with them).
So the fight is long and I believe we have to wait at least until elections are over to witness any change in this subject.
A 62 year old Lebanese accused of stabbing his wife to death got his sentence reduced from 15 years in prison to paying a fee of 25 Million Liras (Around 17,000$) to the victim’s family. The man had already spent 6 years in prison but was able to go out with a fine because his wife refused to sleep with him and used to insult him and yell at him. I wonder how he was able to prove that.
The fight to legitimize civil marriage in Lebanon and recognize Kholoud & Nidal’s civil marriage is not over yet as President Michel Sleiman reiterated his full support and slammed Prime Minister Najib Mikati for his take on the matter.
The Lebanese online community also reacted yesterday to Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani’s fiery remarks yesterday and started a Facebook Page where all Lebanese couples who had a civil marriage outside Lebanon are posting about it with the date and location and asking to legitimize civil marriage in Lebanon.
“Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani made fiery remarks Monday, saying any Muslim official who supported civil marriage would not be considered Muslim.
“Every Muslim official, whether a deputy or a minister, who supports the legalization of civil marriage, even if it is optional, is an apostate and outside the Islamic religion,” Qabbani said in a religious edict, or fatwa.
“[Such officials] would not be washed, would not be wrapped in a [burial] shroud, would not have prayers for their soul in line with Islamic rules, and would not be buried in a Muslim cemetery,” Qabbani added.”
Pr. Sleiman not letting go off the civil marriage issue and asking Interior Minister Marwan Charbel to verify again Kholoud & Nidal’s contract
If you want to read more about the civil marriage law, click [Here].
At around 11pm on Friday night, I was texting while walking with a friend outside EDL in Mar Mikhail. I was immersed by the words of my message, but quickly snapped out of my trance when my buddy directed my attention to an incident in the middle of the road.
Four guys dressed all in black were in the process of throwing someone into the back seat of an old Mercedes with tinted windows. As they threw him, one of the four guys kicked the man into the car. According to my friend, one of the men was armed with a rifle, though I didn’t see it personally.
One man stepped into the car behind the forced person and shut the car’s door behind him, while the other 3 entered the car from the other doors and drove off. The car was followed by a smaller SUV (like a CRV).
My first response was to wave down a police car and explain the incident. Two members of the darak were in the car, one an officer, and neither took down notes when I explained the incident. When I gave them the license plate number, the driver (not the officer) pulled out his phone and typed in around 4 numbers (the license plate had 6 numbers) before putting his phone away. While they both looked slightly concerned, they simply nodded before driving off. I have no way of knowing if they followed up.
To be thorough, I called ‘112’ to report an emergency. I asked the operator if I could describe the incident to him in English but he responded by saying he only spoke Arabic. I did my best to describe the incident but the tone on the other end of the line inspired little hope that anything would be done.
On the same day Al-Assir was visiting Kfardebian, Ghassan Seifeddine and his son Hady were killed in Wata Al-Jawz by Anthony Khalil during a personal dispute. Residents of Lebanon’s Jbeil town of Lassa, hometown of both victims, reacted by blocking roads and threatening to march to Baabda, and warned of a civil war (See video of Lassa’s Sheikh speech above) if the killer is not handed to the authorities.
I disagree with that poster – everyone should let justice take its course
Even though they have every right to be saddened by this tragic incident and demand that the killer give himself in, I don’t understand their reaction specially that some reports are saying Anthony killed the two men in self-defense. Apparently, members of the Seifeddine family were beating Pierre Nakhoul (who will reveal the full story to the authorities soon) when Anthony happened to pass by, so he stopped his truck and “started shouting at the Seifeddines in an attempt to have them stop. Two of them then attacked Khalil with a machete and a knife. It was at this point that Khalil took out a gun, shoot the two of them, and killed them”. [Link]
I have no idea if the story is correct, nor am I trying to defend what Anthony did, but it’s obviously a personal dispute that ended the wrong way, so the best is to leave it as is without blocking roads and turning it into a sectarian matter. Whether he did it in self-defense or not, he still shot two people dead and this is punishable by law.
Until then, may the victims rest in peace and let’s hope we never hear of such incidents anymore. Too bad two other people were shot dead by a third one during a car chase last night on the Khaldeh highway.
There’s an Arabic saying that says “يعمل من الحبة قبة” which I think sums up what happened on Thursday during Al-Assir’s visit when some Kfardebian residents blocked the roads to prevent him from reaching the ski slopes. I don’t want to dig into the details of his visit and the number of tainted cars he had in his convoy or the reason Farid Haykal al-Khazen asked his men to block the roads and the amount of sectarianism, hatred and shortsightedness that were displayed on that day. What I will do is try to re-imagine the whole trip without anyone blocking the roads and show you that we tend to exaggerate things the whole time in Lebanon.
Before I start, most people who were against his visit criticized the large number of people Assir brought with him, which were around 300, out of which 103 children and 97 men, distributed over seven buses. This number is nothing compared to the number of buses I saw prior to New Year’s eve when it first snowed in Faraya. Added to that, Muslims in Lebanon tend to celebrate some of their holidays by visiting the Cedars or Faraya or other distant areas (which happen to be Christian ones) that they don’t usually go to and I’ve never heard anyone complaining about it. On the contrary, I think every Lebanese should explore parts of Lebanon he/she has never been to before.
Anyway back to my story, imagine Al-Assir’s trip that way and tell me if it isn’t easier to plan that:
1- Local heads of municipalities and mayors in the Kfardebian area coordinate efforts to welcome Al-Assir and invite him and his group over to breakfast at one of Faraya’s authentic Lebanese restaurants or at Afif (Emperor of Lahm Baajin). This would have barely cost 500$ and benefited everyone.
2- Al-Assir and his group head to the ski slopes where they are welcomed and assigned a small area for the children to enjoy the snow and 2 or 3 guides to help them. Rental of equipment (Skis/Luge/Ski-Doo) as well as 300 people buying beverages/food/snacks would have brought an extra smile on every shop owner up there.
3- On their way back, the whole group could have stopped at Erzal or any Lebanese restaurant up there and had lunch. I don’t think any of the restaurant owners would have complained or blocked roads. If there was a 10$ minimum charge, this would have brought 3000$ in one day to the restaurant owner.
4- Al-Assir and his group head back home, everyone is happy and the media is praising Kfardebian’s hospitality and national unity bla bla bla instead of promoting sectarianism and hatred.
There was nothing suspicious or provoking about his visit except for the people who thought so, and this all could have been avoided if we reasoned a bit, but that’s apparently too hard to ask these days.
I saw this screenshot yesterday taken from Tayyar’s news portal during the Kalam el Nass episode with Michel Mouawad. Knowing that Michel has issues pronouncing the “r”, just like some other personalities and a certain Sheikh, I laughed when I read this but this is not how you report news on an official page.
Speaking of which, I think we are the only country in the world where political parties have online news portals that are more updated than local news agencies.
Joe went to take few shots at the Zaitunay Bay with his DSLR but was not allowed to do so by one of the security guys. I’ve seen a lot of people taking pictures with their SLRs and Smart Phones there so it looks like security guys r not doing their job properly or one of them was having a bad day. This is the second time Joe is not allowed to take pictures in a place, after he was asked to stop taking pictures at ABC mall Achrafieh few months back.
I agree with him that it’s a silly rule from a marketing perspective as they should allow us to take pictures and promote the venue.
Activists from the Nationality Campaign held a sit-in three days ago near the Baabda palace to protest against the Nationality law and ask PM Najib Miqati to reconsider not allowing Lebanese women to pass their nationality on to their children. However, nothing has changed and as you can see from the video above, the ministerial committee in charge of studying this law (all men) decided to keep it as is. This means that we join Kuwait, Qatar, Yemen and Somalia as a country where women lack the right to pass on the nationality completely. [Map]
Basically, this translates into the following: If a Lebanese woman marries a non-Lebanese, she is not allowed to pass the nationality to her children, while a Lebanese man who marries a non-Lebanese woman is allowed to pass the nationality to his spouse and children. The reasons that the ministerial committee keeps on giving to justify this inequality are to laugh for, and include:
- Harming Lebanon’s Higher Interest.
- Disrupting the demographic balance.
- Threatening co-existence and equality.
- Facilitating the “naturalization” process.
Funnily enough, the ministerial committee’s report included statistics related to the number of Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese, including those married to Palestinian men. Figures showed there are around 76,000 registered cases of a Lebanese woman married to a foreign man, out of which 16,800 of these women married to Palestinian refugees (vs. 15,596 Lebanese men married to Palestinian women). So assuming that Lebanese women are finally allowed to pass on their nationality to their children, we would have roughly 30,000-40,000 more Lebanese which makes around 1% of the total population. I honestly don’t see how this 1% is going to disrupt the demographic balance or threaten the country’s Higher Interest.
Lebanese Ghada Kaakani married Palestinian Bassam Al Hidiq yet still cannot give the Lebanese nationality to her two sons [Link]
Nevertheless, this is not the point as we are all aware of the considerable number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the derogatory conditions they live in and the political exploitation that follows. The point is why are Lebanese men allowed to pass on their nationality while Lebanese women can’t? Are we smarter and more educated than our women are? Were they born stupid enough to marry anyone just to give them the Lebanese Nationality? What sort of non-sense is that?
If Lebanese men are allowed to pass on the citizenship, Lebanese women should have the same right. If you are worried about Palestinians getting naturalized as a result of this law, ban both genders from passing the nationality not just women. It’s as simple as that and anyone who speaks against this equality in rights is an ignorant.
I hope that Mrs. Wafaa Sleiman, Lebanon’s first lady and a defender of women’s rights, will lobby further in favor of changing this law, and ask other ministers’ wifes and influential female politicians to join her in putting an end to this non-sense, because such an issue will unfortunately never be resolved by sit-ins and demonstrations.
Is it that hard to state the worker’s name instead of a serial number?
kwk-lb.com is aimed to provide a unique service in Lebanon and the Middle East to help the employers to search for suitable maids or domestic help online and agencies can manage their maid’s bio-data by becoming a member of kwk-lb.com. [Source]
For some weird reason, they have a multimedia page with Arabic/English/Ethiopian/Indian songs and video clips. [Kwk-Media]
I remember posting about this scandal back in 2010 when BBC conducted an investigation and found out that the so-called bomb detectors are useless. Later on and as reported by Youmna from LBC Blogs, both the the US government related SANDIA laboratory the United States Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal came out with the same conclusion.
The question remains: Why are people still using it in Lebanon and why doesn’t the government ban their use and penalize companies selling it?
Whether it’s a car explosion, people burning tires, armed clashes between militias or floods you’ll find the Lebanese making fun of the situation and inventing jokes. It is amazing how they have the ability to turn any national disaster into jokes and comments. This is one of the little things that this fragmented and divided country has to bind its people: humor, the dark kind. However, humor is a not a healthy sign at all in Lebanon, it is a sign of the hopelessness, indifference and surrender to the hard reality the Lebanese have reached and are living every day.
These jokes contribute to bringing the Lebanese to a state of mind described as the “weed effect”; distracted from the initial problem – which they should be furious about – they compete in sharing and laughing about jokes they create. Making fun of every disastrous situation keeps the Lebanese from pointing fingers in the right direction: in the face of the government that failed and keeps failing to protect its citizens from natural or man-made disasters. To some people making jokes is a good indicator of the sense of humor a population has and its willingness to laugh and live no matter how bad the situation is, but coming back to reality, this is a really bad sign. [Full Article]
Lebanese businessman Wadih al-Absi declared during a Press Conference yesterday that he will no longer be Sagesse’s financier for the 2012-2013 season. He claimed that ever since he entered the Sagesse Club, he called for keeping politics away from sports yet he finished his Press Conference by attacking a rival political party.
Honestly I am glad he left the team and I hope others will follow and leave Sagesse alone, starting with Imad Wakim and whomever is behind him. Even if Sagesse fans are overwhelmingly supportive (That’s what Absi’s opponents say) of a certain political party in Lebanon, a basketball team requires a competent management and long-term strategies to sustain the team and its players and the fans want to see their team win at the end of the day. Having said that, I honestly can’t but acclaim the Sagesse fans who are probably fed up with all this mess yet keep on showing to every game to support their team.
Basketball in Lebanon has never been the same ever since President Choueiri left and I don’t expect it to get any better unless drastic measures are taken and a proper federation is formed. Every year, we have a new Pr. Choueiri-wannabe willing to invest millions of dollars in 1 or more teams before it gets messy and he drops out.
To be honest, the problem is quite simple yet no one’s willing to acknowledge it. Basketball teams don’t make money in Lebanon and the people investing in them, whether it is for personal reasons or not, realize sooner or later it’s not worth it and quit. After all, pouring millions into one team does not mean the team’s going to win all titles. That’s not how basketball works.
IMHO, the only way to salvage whatever is left of Lebanese Basketball is by doing the following:
1- Limit the budget of all teams to a certain range, say between 500k and 1M a year.
2- Limit Foreign players to just one per team as long as his yearly salary doesn’t exceed 15% of the total team’s budget.
3- Naturalized players or Lebanese-American players will be paid the same way local players are. It is absurd to pay a Lebanese playing in the US 20 times more than a Lebanese player, not to mention how discouraging and frustrating this is for the rising talents.
4- Teams will be penalized financially if their fans were to shout political or racist slogans. This applies to the players and management as well.
5- Full-time Members of a political party, sons of politicians and officials etc, are not eligible to preside or take part of the team’s management.
6- Management must submit a 5-year financial plan to help make their teams profitable and improve sustainability.
Of course there are more issues to tackle but those are good enough for a start and if there’s anyone in the current federation really concerned about the future of basketball in Lebanon, they have to step up and do something before it’s too late. Until then, and I agree with Absi on that one, we will all be enjoying an exciting season since elections are coming and everyone’s throwing money left and right, but don’t expect much next year.