Category Archives: Critiques

What Happened At Mohammad Chaar’s Funeral Is a Disgrace

1527015_591340050953691_2132616325_n

The funeral of 16 year old Mohammad Chaar, who was posing for a group “selfie” in front of the car moments that exploded in Starco, took place yesterday at the Khashoggi Mosque in Beirut. However, a brawl erupted when Grand Mufti Qabbani showed up at the mosque, and security forces had to intervene to take him out safely.

Whatever the reason is behind this brawl, it was a shameful act and a highly disrespectful one to the family and friends of the victim. The last thing they needed was someone turn their child’s funeral into a joke.

Here’s a nice [tribute] to Mohammad prepared by his friends.

Fun-Shaar-_5_ph-IT_789770_large

OO-U9_472040_large
We are all Mohammad Chaar

All pictures are courtesy of Annahar

Getting Used To Assassinations In Lebanon

Mideast-Lebanon_Horo-1-e1388145214199-635x357

Every time a political assassination or a terrorist act takes place in Beirut, we get the same cliché reactions from most parties. TV stations making up stories and spreading lies and propaganda, politicians condemning and blaming their opponents, few sides accusing Israel or Syria by default, some people expressing their anger and frustration on TVs and social media channels, others burning tires and blocking roads etc …

Personally speaking, I try to stay away from spreading rumors and sharing sectarian comments and do my best by focusing on the human and tragic side of the story. The two stories that I shared yesterday left me speechless for few minutes when I found out about them, and the interview with Mohammad Chatah’s wife and his son yesterday night was a very emotional one.

Mohammad Chatah was a role model himself for a lot of Lebanese irrespective of his political affiliations. The man was a brilliant economist, a humble and decent man and a moderate thinker. He was one of the very few people I enjoyed listening to in Lebanon.

Here’s what Qifa Nabki posted about him. [Mohamad Chatah (1951-2013)]

However, and even though we’ve unfortunately become immune to bombings and assassinations in Lebanon, this is not an excuse not to handle a crime scene seriously and take the proper measures to preserve the evidence and seal the bomb site right away. Security Forces might not be able to prevent bombings, even though I am sure they can do a better job than the one being done right now, but it’s no longer acceptable to see journalists, cameramen and random people walking all over the bomb site, politicians showing up with tens of supporters to make a statement on site, TV stations and random individuals recklessly rushing to film dead bodies and closeups on the cars, crowds gathered around the bombed cars and dead bodies etc …

It is our responsibility as Lebanese citizens to behave in a decent and respectful matter when it comes to an assassination like that and security forces should be the ones leading by example. A couple of pictures (see below) were circulating online showing Interior Minister Marwan Charbel visiting the bomb site with a group of 20 people and another showing the ISF Information Branch seemingly getting into an argument with the Lebanese Army Intelligence (not confirmed though).

dscn8668

BcfNEU6IUAEZ0Z4

I am not interested in the details of what happened, but what I want is for the Interior Ministry and Lebanese Army to form a joint unit that handles strictly these crimes and deals with them professionally. We have the necessary units and equipment, all that is needed is a transparent and genuine collaboration between them. Moreover, I ask everyone to read how someone should react to an explosion or terrorist attack and spread it. Even if some people rush to help victims, they might be harming themselves, the victims and the investigation by doing so most of the time.

On a last note, I was told Gemmayze and Mar Mikhail were packed yesterday despite the bombing that took place earlier in the morning, and I am not sure if it’s a good or bad thing anymore. It’s one thing to get used to such tragic events and learn to move on and enjoy life, and another to view the death of political figures and innocent people as a normal thing. We should handle these matters the same way we express our love for life by acting responsibly and leading by example. This applies to every single detail in our everyday life not just bombings and assassinations. Let’s be the voices of moderation and reason Chatah was for a lot of Sunnites and Lebanese and keep people around us and younger generations away from extremism and sectarianism.

If we don’t do that, we’ll be digging ourselves a deeper hole.

explosion-beirut-kills-former-finance-minister-mohammed-chatah_2
Picture via IBTimes

Mikhail Kalashnikov Died Back In July According To LBCI

kalashnikov232way-7fbf0b909a4f14fceea2817b0287f5867ce74d16-s40-c85
Picture via NPR

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the famous Ak-47 assault rifle died yesterday according to Russian officials at the age of 94. However, it seems LBCI reported him dead back in July for some reason.

The AK-47 — “Avtomat Kalashnikov” is the world’s most popular firearm, with over 100 million guns spread worldwide.

[YouTube]

Thanks Pierre!

FAIL: Dekwaneh Bridge Iron Joints And ISF Security Measures

Dekwene-Ashrafieh-Bridge-1

I was looking yesterday for better pictures of the Dekwaneh-Achrafieh bridge dismantled iron joints and I found these. Honestly speaking, what’s even worse than the bridge condition are the safety measures taken there. Two tiny cones and some baskets from a local grocery store are not enough to alert incoming cars.

I think this bridge must be closed down ASAP and fixed in less than 24 hours. The Council for Development and Reconstruction promised to fix the matter in 48 hours 24 hours ago.

Pass along these pictures and tell your friends and family members to drive very slowly and carefully along this road or just avoid it.

Dekwene-Ashrafieh-Bridge-3

Dekwene-Ashrafieh-Bridge-2
Pictures from lebanese-forces.com

Lebanon Finally Approves IKEA’s Solar-Powered Flat Pack Shelters For Syrian Refugees

IKEA-Refugee-Shelter2-1-537x343

Instead of approving these shelters months ago and preventing a disastrous situation for the refugees during the winter season, the Lebanese Government decided to wait until now to say yes. Someone should re-assure the Lebanese authorities that Syrians refugees hate it in Lebanon just like Palestinians do. Moreover, building decent camps to let them settle temporarily is a much better plan than letting them integrate into local communities then treat them in a racist manner.

Earlier this year, Scandinavian flat pack furniture masters IKEA unveiled an easily deployable solar-powered shelter that can provide sturdy, safe housing in an emergency. Designed in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the shelters are ideal for situations such as the ongoing mass displacement of individuals fleeing from the war in Syria. However, as many Syrian refugees enter Lebanon, the Lebanese government has been hesitant to approve the use of the IKEA shelters for fear that they might prove too permanent. Now, after six months of negotiations, the IKEA housing will finally be available to Syrians in Lebanon, but they may not be ready in time to protect many from the harsh winter. [Link]

IKEA-Refugee-Shelter6-1

Here’s more information about the IKEA shelters:

The IKEA Refugee Housing Units are 188 square feet and can safely house up to five people. While that may sound on the small side, it is twice the size of the current standard tents provided to refugees. Additionally, solar paneled roofing provides a safe source of light, removing the need for hazardous kerosene lamps. Reflective paneling on the shelter’s exterior provides insulation to keep the interior cool during the day and warmer at night. The shelters can be constructed in just four hours, and while the tents currently distributed by the UNHCR typically start to disintegrate within six months, IKEA’s shelters can last for up to three years. [Link]

25+ Trucks Fully loaded with clothes and blankets + $20,000 raised for The Syrian Refugees in the North & Bekaa Area

1489027_10151773802361373_1723884673_n Picture via I am Not a Tourist

I passed by Biel yesterday to donate 6 bags of clothes collected from friends and family to the Syrian Refugees in the North and Bekaa Area and it was just heartwarming to see hundreds of people coming to give away clothes, blankets and anything that could help these refugees. The best part was that this was an initiative started by individuals and not political parties and it quickly went viral and got people interested in helping.

The organizers will be today in the North and Bekaa areas to distribute the warm blankets and clothes. I truly hope this will be one of many initiatives to help the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and specially the children who are the most vulnerable during winter time.

1486923_10153605980235080_972519343_n The Bekaa today – Picture via Gino

On a last note, some people have been saying that we should be helping out deprived Lebanese families before thinking of helping the Syrian Refugees. I honestly don’t know if I should bother answer these people, but let me just say that I personally help out people who are in need regardless of their nationality and the humanitarian crisis that Syria is going through these days requires all of us to step in and help at least those in Lebanon.

Let’s stop being racist and selective as we’re talking about human beings here and if we don’t help out the 1 million+ Syrian Refugees in Lebanon, we’re basically screwing ourselves as Lebanese first and foremost.

Maaloula Nuns, Abducted Syrian Priests And Bishops Are Not A Lebanese Priority

1441332_10152058188948560_782173421_n
Syrian refugee children facing ‘catastrophic’ life in Lebanon – via I am Not A Tourist Page

One of the biggest problems we have in Lebanon is that we don’t know how to set our priorities straight. We’ve been facing four tough years due to the regional tensions and war in Syria yet we’ve done nothing to keep our country safe and away from trouble. We’re heavily indebted, poverty is on the rise, traffic jams are everywhere, infrastructure is aging and deplorable, there’s no crisis-management yet officials seem more concerned about throwing accusations at each other and saving the nuns of Maaloula and the two kidnapped bishops in Syria.

The reason why I mentioned Maaloula and the two Orthodox Bishops (+ a priest) case is because they are being given so much importance in the Lebanese media and among Lebanese Officials, that you’d think Syria is not going through a devastating war with hundreds of innocent civilians being kidnapped and killed on a daily basis, and that the only highlight in Syria are the 12 Maaloula Greek Orthodox nuns and the two Bishops that were taken hostage by armed groups. While I totally understand the importance of Maaloula for Christians in the region and world-wide, and I condemn the kidnapping of religious people (and people in general), I don’t see why Lebanese officials, whether security people or politicians, are seeking out Qatari help to free non-Lebanese nuns and bishops while ignoring more urging and relevant matters.

Just to be clear here, I am all for helping out our Arab brothers and sisters but Lebanon helping others in the current circumstances is like asking a person who doesn’t know how to swim to save a drowning man and begging Qatar for help in a Syrian matter seems a bit irrational to me. There are Lebanese still kidnapped and missing in Syria and the proof is this man (Yaacoub Chamoun) who came back after 27 years in a Syrian prison, there’s a Lebanese cameraman called Samir Kassab that’s been missing since October in Syria, there are Lebanese (Including priests) that got kidnapped and are still missing, add to that the Lebanese families in Beb el Tebbane, Jabal Mohsen, and Akkar that are paying the price for the daily armed clashes there, the Lebanese families that survived the Indonesian boat disaster and are being threatened by the smugglers not to testify against them, the Arsal families who are helpless and are no longer able to contain the flux of Syrian refugees, and thousands of other Lebanese families living in deplorable conditions and in need of help.

If we want to talk about the importance of Maaloula as a historic Christian village where people still talk the language of the Christ (Aramaic), let’s try and keep the Kadisha valley on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, let’s figure out a way to grow more Cedars instead of building wedding venues next to them, let’s safeguard whatever is left from the Harissa mountain that’s filled with ugly buildings now, let’s try to save some of Beirut’s ruins before they get replaced by skyscrapers etc …

BU_t-EUCcAAEEuX.jpg large
By Armand Homsi

Even if we assume that all these Lebanese issues can be dealt with later on, which is not the case, and we want to help our Syrian brothers and sisters in distress, how can one disregard the 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the hundreds of thousands of children living in terrible conditions? Have you seen the tents under which they are living and the dangers that these children are exposed to? If not, then check out the pictures being shared by Journalist Carol Maalouf who spent the last two days in Arsal trying to help out the refugees there and shed the light on their condition.

There’s no need for me to elaborate further on the Syrian Refugees crisis in Lebanon because everyone knows how bad it is: Syrian women and children are being sexually harassed and abused in Lebanon, illegal and inhuman organ trading is thriving among Syrian refugees, Lebanese municipalities are imposing racist curfews against Syrians, illegal Syrian businesses are threatening Lebanese ones mainly in the Bekaa, beggars are all over the street and the list goes on and on.

Having said all that, it’s time we set our priorities straight as Lebanese citizens and stop listening to what all our officials are saying and focus on the problems that concern us as Lebanese and the little things that matter the most. There are plenty of NGOs and initiatives to help out Lebanese & Syrian families in distress so let’s give them a hand and take initiatives ourselves. Let’s stop being so hateful, racist and sectarian and preach love. Let’s be more productive and less destructive in our actions. Let’s stop sticking our noses in other countries’ affairs and mind our own for a change. Let’s listen to what Nelson Mandela said about love since all Lebanese apparently became so fond of him after he died few days ago:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I would love to see the Syrian nuns and bishops freed the soonest, and I am sure they would love as Christians to see us take good care of their own people (Muslims & Christians) who are suffering in Lebanon. After all, any country’s top priority has always been its citizens and the people residing in it first and foremost and there’s nothing that can’t be done if we as Lebanese hold our ethics and values above empty and shortsighted speeches and propaganda currently being delivered by ALL sides.

1458500_10151829020477919_319082743_n
Picture taken by Carol Maalouf

How Saad Hariri Commemorated Nelson Mandela’s Passing

hariri-mandela
via QifaNabki

Qifa Nabki argues that it was an insulting tweet as Saad Hariri referred to Mandela as a rare piece of brown gold. I do agree and don’t see why he (or his PR guy) had to mention “brown” or any color in his tweet.

Here’s the tweet in English:
“Mandela nearly reached the age of a hundred, and remained until the last minute of his life a rare piece of brown gold glittering over humanity, presenting live examples of the values of forgiveness, reconciliation, the recognition of the other”

Nice Try

1476609_671417836213953_420765076_n

The picture above has been circulating online to tell people who are nagging about the floods in Lebanon that streets and roads get flooded everywhere, even in developed countries like the US, England and Australia. Of course floods happen everywhere but that’s not the real problem in Lebanon and I think Lebanese should complain 24/7 to the authorities about the shitty infrastructure and useless measures being taken during rainy days.

Just a few words to those claiming this is normal:
- People got stuck for hours (More than 2 hours on average) just because it rained a bit, not cause of a storm.
- There were barely any police units on the roads to assist people stuck inside their cars. Thumbs up to the Civil Defense units though for doing an impressive job despite being badly equipped.
- The authorities released a statement asking people to stay home after everyone was already stuck in traffic.
- A vital road like the airport one SHOULD NEVER be flooded by water and closed for 5 hours.
- In developed countries, the authorities take extraordinary measures for upcoming storms. This was just a normal rainy day. What are the measures being taken for next week’s Alexa storm?
- Shouldn’t there be a hotline dedicated to situations like that?

Emergency Numbers in Lebanon:
Civil Defense 125
Lebanese Red Cross 140
Internal Security 112 (Emergencies)
Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport 150
International Operator 100
OGERO (Telephone Service) 1515