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.
Back when bombings were unfortunately common in Beirut, I jokingly told my friend once that I’m more worried about dog poop than car bombs in Achrafieh. They are everywhere and you can’t walk around anywhere without looking down and making sure you are not stepping on dog poop. It’s gross and disgusting and Achrafieh residents are mostly to blame for that, specially those who are too disgusted to pick up their dog’s poop but don’t mind polluting the street and their neighborhood.
I’m glad Achrafieh2020 and Sukleen have teamed up to clean Achrafieh streets from dog poop and I love their slogan but I doubt that it will change anything. I honestly believe people who don’t pick up their dog’s poop should be fined just like everywhere else in the world, or even better, someone should track them down pick up their dog’s poop and put it on their front door.
Until then, let’s support this campaign by reporting any poop spotted on the streets, and let’s hope it will be followed by an awareness campaign aimed at dog owners.
A 5 year old kid was hit and injured by a stray bullet from a funeral gunfire in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Mounir Hazini was shot in the head and is still in coma while two others were slightly wounded. Of course the story didn’t get much attention because 1) the boy is a Syrian kid living in a camp, 2) we got used to assholes emptying their machine guns and RPGs in the air and 3) because the authorities can’t or don’t want to do anything about it.
Every time I tweet or post about the dangers of stray bullets and the need to ban celebratory gunfire in Lebanon once and for all, I get replies from people telling me that all party leaders, specially the heavily armed ones, have already asked their followers to stop shooting guns in the air, BUT they can’t control them unfortunately. If that’s really the case, which I doubt, inform the authorities about these guys and let them be arrested. How hard can it be to spot a guy emptying his machine gun in the street or on the roof? Why doesn’t anyone film them and sends them to Tony Khalife or Joe Maalouf? Why aren’t TVs doing anything to investigate further on such incidents?
Celebratory gunfire is stupid and dangerous and whomever does it is unintentionally trying to kill innocent people and should be labeled as a criminal. Mounir could have been anyone’s kid and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. We cannot and should not get used to such incidents and the Lebanese Army and ISF should take stricter measures when these things happen.
There’s nothing stopping them from doing so (not that I know of) and I am quite sure not a single party in Lebanon would want to cover for brainless members accidentally killing and injuring innocent people.
I hate wasta, I never used it to finish any paperwork or get things done in Lebanon and I still refuse to do so. I’m one of those people who wouldn’t mind waiting for hours if that’s the right way to do things and I’m proud of that. Moreover, I’ve never bribed anyone in my life and I don’t intend to do so anytime soon. I still feel bad that I somehow ended up using my “wasta” on Saturday but it was unintentional.
Here’s what happened:
I needed a certain document from the notary public and I didn’t know any in Keserwan so I asked around and I was given the name of one so I headed there on a Saturday morning. Once I got there, it was chaotic just like you’d expect it to be and I couldn’t really tell whose turn is next so I just waited till the lady in front of me finished hoping that no one would cut me off.
I told the officer there what I needed and he asked for our IDs then our home address. When I gave him my new address, he told me that I need to go there and do the paper as it’s illegal to do it here, so I turned to my wife and told her it’s weird because my “wasta” which I won’t name told me we can do it here and he’s done it before. At that moment, the officer overheard me and he was like “Oh you’re related to Mr X” and I’m like “Yes why?”.
Everything changed at this moment, as if I used a secret code or something. He started smiling at me, told me to sit down and relax and the paper will be done in no time. He even took us to his private office and closed the door. I wasn’t really comfortable with the way things were going so I told the guy that I don’t want to proceed with it if it’s illegal, but as it turns out, it’s not but it’s preferable to do it in the town you’re living in. I eventually got my document in 5 minutes and got a discount on the fees as well. How can you give discounts on preset fees? He even offered me coffee lol!
What’s funny and sad about this story is that the lady who was there before me had to wait for an hour to get the same exact paper done, only because she didn’t have a wasta. Of course I’m glad I didn’t waste half a day for some stupid paper, but the last thing I wanted to do is use a wasta to get things done quickly.
Adel Karam issued an apology few hours ago for disrespecting a 63 year old man who was presenting his brevet exams after the story went viral online and Elie posted about it. Needless to say, it’s a shameful thing to mock an old man for wanting to complete his brevet exams at the age of 63 and he should be praised instead and even though it’s too late to apologize now, I’m glad Adel decided this time to do so instead of blocking those who are attacking him and ignoring them (which he did earlier on Twitter with a separate incident).
More importantly, I hope Adel and his team will learn from this mistake and try to focus on positive stories worth sharing instead of hosting dumb guests and updating us on Kim Jong-un. What happened with Fares Karam few months back was also unacceptable as he handed Adel a loaded gun live on TV.
I still think Adel’s show is a decent one and he does make me laugh from time to time, but it can be much better than that in my opinion.
Update: Never mind the blocking remark, it seems he did block few tweeps who attacked him. I think this is a silly move (from him or whomever is managing his account) that will only backfire on him.
I’ve been closely following on Ella’s story and I’ve refrained from posting anything about it so far because I’m not qualified to do so and I don’t agree on the way this story was handled from the start. The doctor should not have been arrested that way and the media should not have exploited what this girl had to go through the way they did. More importantly, the Lebanese syndicate of doctors should not have issued a work stoppage order to its 12,000 members to protest against Maalouf’s arrest.
The order of physicians has every right to protest until Maalouf was released but why close down hospitals? Who closes down hospitals and stops receiving patients except for emergencies? Who will determine what’s urgent and what’s not and how is this going to help Maalouf or Baby Ella? Moreover, who will be held responsible for patients who are left untreated and die during this strike? I have a friend who got admitted to the ER a week ago and was supposed to do further tests and an MRI today but it got postponed until further notice. He may not be in a critical condition but that’s not an excuse to cancel appointments and leave patients anxiously waiting.
Since the matter is between Lebanon’s state prosecutor, the Health Minister, the media and the syndicate of doctors, they should treat this matter legally and sort things out without having to call for a strike. Last but not least, medical malpractice is a serious and growing problem in Lebanon and I’ve had (and heard about) plenty of bad experiences with doctors which I chose to ignore because it wasn’t an urgent matter and I had no clue how to report them. This being said, the syndicate and the health ministry should sit down and figure out a way to tackle these matters in a more professional way and avoid what’s happening right now.
Gino wrote about this earlier today and I agree with most of what he had to say, check out his post [here].
I’m not really sure what is Tony Khalife’s deal with NGOs that are working against domestic violence but he has gone too far this time and his last two interventions on this issue are, according to my humble opinion, utter nonsense. Even more, he’s damaging the reputation of respectable NGOs and turning the public against them without having any scientific proof to back his claims. When he was covering the Sarah el Amine story, he was throwing false claims all over the place and even had a Sheikh on the show who kept undermining the work of NGOs. I won’t go back to this episode but focus on his latest intervention during his appearance on Al Hayat TV where he attacked once again NGOs concerned with domestic violence against women.
You can watch the 4-minute long video above and here are my thoughts on it:
– Claiming that some NGOs and lawyers are interfering in internal family affairs and pushing women to file lawsuits against their abusive husbands is complete nonsense. When a man abuses his wife or his children or vice versa, it’s no longer a family affair but a social issue and NGOs are here to help these women speak out and not suffer (or die) in silence.
– Claiming that certain NGOs get paid for every woman that dies due to domestic violence is a serious accusation that needs to be backed by clear evidence. If that’s not the case, he should apologize to the NGOs in question for harming their reputation.
– Claiming that NGOs have caused an increase in the number of domestic violence victims is also a serious accusation that has no scientific evidence. If anything, these NGOs are shedding the light on more and more cases everyday that no one used to hear about them before and I’m glad Mona Abou Hamze disagreed with him on this statement.
– Refusing to admit that men are the dominant group in our society is like refusing to admit most of the Lebanese are still sectarian. We are still way behind in terms of women rights and even human rights at this point.
– Claiming that women speaking out in public in front of their sons about their abusive husband is more humiliating than their husband beating them at home in front of their kids is probably the worst thing Tony said on that night. NGOs and organizations have been working for years to help women break their silence and speak out against their abusive husbands and seek protection from the authorities and society. By asking them to keep things in the house, these women and their children will suffer in silence just like what happened with Sarah el Amine.
Moreover, being an educated and respectable person has nothing to do with domestic violence. We’ve seen how a lawyer was beating his wife in public the other day and was almost bragging about it on public TV and on your show as well. Therefore, if you come back home and you find the police waiting for you, it must be for a good reason not because NGOs and lawyers are pushing women to file random lawsuits. Last but not least, an NGO that is working to eliminate all forms of exploitation and violence against women is not entitled to report cases of domestic violence against men. If Tony Khalife feels there are a lot of men being abused by women, he should start his own NGO then and report these cases and organize demonstrations and everyone will gladly support him if he’s right.
I think it’s quite ironic that Tony Khalife is running a show to help shed the light on important topics and is criticizing at the same time NGOs that are helping shed the light on domestic violence cases and supporting women being abused by their husbands. If he feels certain NGOs are not doing their job well which is properly the case, then he should prepare a show to evaluate their work and not just throw random accusations at them. Also, he should reconsider some of the cases he’s talking about and whether they helped or harmed the people involved as well.
All in all, I think it would better if he invests more time and effort into spreading awareness on domestic violence and on ways to support the victims rather than get into a pointless war with NGOs and organizations, specially those that are closely working with the authorities.
If you had asked me 5 or 6 years ago what I thought about Tony Khalife or Joe Maalouf’s TV show, I would have probably told you that they need to be shut down. However, as social media is becoming more and more important in Lebanon and the Arab world, these shows are mainly feeding on hot social media topics and taking them a step further, and are helping (sometimes) shed the light on other important topics. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean that the hosts are doing a fine job and should be praised. On the contrary, I’ve been criticizing and bashing Khalife and Maalouf for years and I still disapprove of their methods and some of the stories they cover but the fact that they are able to tackle any topic they want and say (almost) whatever they want on TV, even if it’s wrong, is something we somehow need in Lebanon.
Take for example tonight’s episode with the guy who was filmed beating his wife in ABC Dbayyeh. Both criticized and bashed the man and Maalouf went as far as accusing him of bribery. He even decided to hang up on him at some point when the guy stopped making any sense. Again I’m not saying I approve of such behavior but you need someone to do this dirty job and they are doing it for us and indirectly forcing those who committed a certain crime or are involved in a scandal to show up and defend themselves or state their point of view. More importantly, the fact that the original video spread via social media got people engaged in the show and helped spread the story even further and put more pressure on the concerned parties (juridical body) to do something about it.
Again I am not a fan of these shows to be honest and I struggle to watch them but I do so when there’s a hot story going viral online because both hosts are very well connected and powerful enough (I don’t know who’s backing them) to say whatever they want and they almost always manage to surprise me with the amount of information they collect, specially Joe Maalouf. Unfortunately, their take on some issues is sometimes disappointing and even shocking, like when Tony Khalife was taking sides with some Sheikh and bashing Kafa and other NGOs for trying to help women being abused, or when Maalouf revealed a secret hideout for gays in Lebanon causing their arrest, but that’s where the online community should intervene and pressure them to apologize for their mistakes.
All in all, social media is still growing rapidly in Lebanon and is leading to positive changes in our society but it still didn’t reach a point where it can have a serious impact on some matters, mainly because the authorities rarely listen to what people are saying, and more importantly because some parties are hijacking social media and “imposing” their views by spamming our timelines. We need more online influencers and by that I don’t mean popular Instagram accounts
Kafa organized a demonstration yesterday in front of the National Musuem to end domestic violence against women and in support of the victims’ families, specially after the brutal murder of Sara al Amin a week ago. On the same day and in a different location, a man was caught on camera beating a woman inside her car. Al Jadeed are saying he’s an official and that the woman is his wife but I can’t confirm both. What’s sure is that he was beating her in public and no one intervened to help the poor woman, which brings me back to the post I wrote a few days ago on how Lebanese need to protect women being assaulted in public or inside their houses.
If I had seen this guy, I would have definitely rushed and kept him away from this woman and I am sure a lot of people would have done the same. I am not here blaming the guy who filmed the whole thing as it’s a personal choice after all, but we need to take action against abusive individuals and shame them while protecting the victim.
I will follow up on this story and see if this guy’s name is revealed since he’s an official and the head of a municipality according to Al Jadeed.