Category Archives: Lebanon

A Giant Lebanese Flag on Martyrs Square

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I spotted last week a huge Lebanese flag installed in the middle of Martyrs Square. I don’t know if it’s linked to the municipal elections or the upcoming Beirut Cultural festival but I felt like someone just saw an empty space and decided to plant a 15 meter long flag. Few years back, a similar flag was placed in Sin el Fil, then two others were placed on Sassine Square and facing the Saint Georges.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with placing large flags as they symbolize pride, patriotism and feeling of belonging for the Lebanese people but Martyrs Square doesn’t need a large flag right now. The square needs greenery, a small park, cultural activities. It needs to be brought back to life especially after months of riots and clashes between demonstrators and the police over the garbage crisis. The walls around the Martyrs statue also need to be cleaned and properly maintained.

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Don’t Forget to Donate To the Lebanese Red Cross this Month

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support lrc

The Lebanese Red Cross is not a governmental association and relies largely on volunteers with a limited number of paid staff. They provide relief to the victims of disasters, respond to emergencies, accidents and are always there when we need.

In return, the Lebanese Red Cross cannot keep serving us and providing medical assistance for free without our generosity and support. They depend on our donations and on new volunteers to keep saving lives and responding to emergencies.

Every year during May, the LRC organizes a fundraising campaign and this year, they are making it easier for people to donate online through their new [online portal].

The Lebanese Red Cross is one of the very few organizations I still trust in Lebanon. You can donate [here] or whenever you spot a Red Cross volunteer on the street, on the road, in a mall, in a restaurant etc …

The 2016 Worst Lebanese Pick Up Lines on OTV

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otv

I am still not a Hisham Haddad fan but yesterday’s #Lahonwbas TV segment was epic. The stuff they showed were hilarious but the OTV guy hitting on his female guest segment was rather more disturbing than funny. The host’s comments were vulgar and very lame, even lamer than the “bass jeete inte 3elyit el 7arara” guy from last year.

In fact, what the OTV host (no idea what his name is) did was borderline sexual harassment but he sounded like such a loser that his guest was probably trying hard not to laugh out loud.

Here’s what he was telling her:

El 7elo bya3mil Sekkare ma hek?

Teb Feena nkhaffif chouwe level el jamel wel 7ala 7atta ma ye3la el sekkare ma3na?

Then he went on:

Bchoufik el Khamees el mo2bal nchallah. Fi ghenniye bit2oul “Zayid 7alaki” Ma ba3rif iza 3al canderel.

Teb mnekhoud break la2anno ballashet dabbi2

Ballashet dabbi2? WTF is wrong with you dude?

Start watching at Minute 10:45. [Link]

It’s Been 1 Year Since the New Traffic Law Was Implemented

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isf2 via ISF

The ISF set up checkpoints yesterday and were distributing fliers to remind the Lebanese about the new traffic law and driving responsibly. They also shared the below video as part of their awareness campaign.

This is all good but the problem is that the new traffic law is not working. In fact, it stopped working since October if not before and the ISF is to blame for many reasons that I’ve stated on several occasions:

– Policemen are still breaking the law and should be punished more severely when they do so as they are role models for others to follow.
– People are using wasta to remove the fines.
– The idea from the new traffic law should be to help people become aware of the traffic law and care about their own safety, not just fine them and send the money elsewhere.
– Lebanese should know that the fines they are paying are going somewhere to improve the infrastructure.
– The law is being applied in specific areas.

In fact, if you look at the pictures above that were tweeted by the ISF, both cars are breaking the law yet the policeman is handing them flyers instead of fining or reprimanding them. Moreover, the violations shown in the video below happen on a daily basis in front of policemen yet barely any action is taken.

We all want the new traffic law to work and our roads to be safer but policemen shall at all times respect and obey the law and set good examples, otherwise things will never work out. This morning, I spotted at least 3 violations by cops and army men on my way to work.

Min Bya3ref: A Lebanese TV Show That Is Making Me Watch TV Again

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Over the past years I found myself moving away from watching local TV towards streaming online video content. I am one of those people who spends a lot of time in front of screens, with the difference of TV now being my second screen while Laptop or Mobile is first.

With the exception of the primetime news, I rarely find myself fixated on a local TV show. Many TV programs nowadays insult our intelligence, are extremely biased and opinionated, have poor production and content value or have literally nothing to say, they are just filling air time.

Min Bya3ref is a show that stands out from the crowd. For the past few weeks, I found myself enjoying every single episode and actually participating remotely in the show. I realized that many people feel the same, even my 6 year-old tries to participate by guessing the answers and feeling extremely proud when he gets it right (even though he understands nothing). In fact, the question sets include everything from general knowledge to social media and viral stories from Lebanon and the Arab World so everyone can take part in that show.

To me, these are all signs proving that the format is successful, entertaining and engaging. It has brought me back from being a passive TV viewer to a more engaged one. The show has a good production value, the set is simple and well designed and the content is very well prepared and custom tailored for the audience. More importantly, the presenter Nadia Bsat fits perfectly in the show, she is charismatic, respectful and bring out the very best out of her guests (which is something we really miss on TV and enjoy seeing). My only complaint is that some guests tend to take their participation lightly and end up acting silly during the show. It’s nice to have fun participants but they need to remember that this is a serious show and not a comedy.

I hope we see more programs like it on TV and wish that in the future they introduce an online tool or app to give people at home the ability to participate and interact with the show, or simply allow people to register and take part in it, not just media people and celebrities.

At the end we know that content will always remain king, even though we are overwhelmed today by information and everything is literally at our fingertips one Google search away, but whenever good, relevant, and local content is properly packaged, the result is always a successful product and an interested and engaged audience.

Min Bya3ref shows every Wednesday at 8:45pm on MTV Lebanon.

Beirut Results Are in! At Least 40% voted for Beirut-Madinati

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bm1

Beirut-Madinati has indeed lost but the big surprise is that the difference in votes was around 15,000 only!

It is also worth noting that the difference was 7,156 votes between Elie Yahchouchi (39,089) who got the least votes on the Beirutis List and Ibrahim Mneimneh (31,939) the head of the Beirut Madinati list. Nadine Labaki got 31,738 votes and was 7,351 from breaching the Beirutis list. Also Beirut-Madinati managed to get twice as many votes as the Beirutis List in Beirut’s first electoral district.

Let’s keep in mind that Beirut-Madinati was up against everyone currently in power.

Thank you Beirut-Madinati!

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LADE Report On Municipal Elections: 647 Violations Reported, Up by 107% From 2010

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baladiyye

The Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections (LADE) just released its report on the municipal elections that took place yesterday. The report covered the Beqaa and Beirut elections and stated that the Ministry of Interior did not handle the electoral process seriously and that the voting and counting procedures were not properly followed.

Here are some of the points raised by LADE, which is a civil, independent and nonprofit organization specialized in elections and how closely they are linked to democracy.

– 647 violations were reported yesterday, up by 107% from 2010 (314 violations).
– 80% increase in violations related to electoral campaigning inside and outside the polling stations.
– Three bribes made to voters were documented in Beirut (Tashnaq, Beirutis List) and three in the Beqaa.
– LADE observers were harassed and threatened at certain polling stations.
– Ballots being moved recklessly with no security escort.
– Electricity cuts in several polling stations.
– Members of political parties intervening in the electoral process.

And the list goes on and on.

As far as violating electoral silence, practically all the candidates from all the list didn’t respect that ban.

You can check out the full report [here].

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On another note, it is worth noting that the current Lebanese parliament’s extended mandate is no longer valid as municipal elections took place and therefore no longer “constitute a major security risk given the fragile situation”. Many thanks to Legal Agenda for pointing this out!

20.14% Voting Turnout in Beirut: Beirutis Don’t Want Change … Yet

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bm1 by Yasmine Darwiche

The Beirut municipal elections are over, the turnout was very low (20.14%) when compared to other regions, Beirut Madinati lost and the Beirutis List has won. A lot of people are upset and disgusted by the results, but I think we all knew deep inside that the likelihood of an outside list winning in Beirut is almost impossible especially when all the political blocks in the country rallied against them. So what do we make of these elections?

20.14% Voting Turnout: A very low yet insignificant percentage
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Beirut has always had the lowest voting turnout in Lebanon but this low turnout is due to the fact that a lot of Beirutis live abroad (35% is the unofficial percentage). We need a resident vs non resident stats to understand better this low turnout and analyze how many first-time voters supported Beirut Madinati vs Beirutis list.

Since these numbers are almost impossible to get, the simplest thing is to allow Lebanese expats to vote abroad in order to improve the turnout and give everyone the opportunity to vote. The current electoral law should also be changed for Beirut as it doesn’t make sense to have one municipality for all of Beirut. Decentralization is needed and areas like Achrafieh for example, must have their own municipality for example.

Social Media influence on Elections is still minimal in Lebanon
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If I look at my Facebook timeline in the past 3 weeks, everyone seemed to be supporting Beirut Madinati’s list with one or two exceptions. Everyone was sharing their posts, liking their pictures and videos and confident that they can win. Unfortunately, the growing online buzz for Beirut Madinati did not materialize on the ground and the influence of online social media activists and bloggers is still minimal in the electoral process but is definitely growing and we need to keep pushing further.

Beirut Madinati campaign did not go in vain: Change is coming

As I’ve stated in a previous post, the fact that a well organized non-partisan group is competing against the ruling class is already a major win. Beirut Madinati posed a serious threat to the Beirutis list and forced all the political and sectarian parties to rally against it. These parties have been fighting and attacking each others for years yet somehow felt threatened by a group of candidates that include academics, artists, a famous film director, social activists and the head of a fishing union. They forgot all their differences, joined hands and resorted to ugly and shameful electoral tactics to rally the masses against them. Funnily enough, it’s probably the first time they had to write down an electoral program.

The mere presence of Beirut Madinati is a win and I hope that they will keep their initiative running for the years to come and be even more prepared in the next municipal elections. We need more people that are willing to to step-in and participate actively in the political life to take back what is rightfully ours and Beirut Madinati has paved the way for that.

Things are changing, people are changing but change takes time. It’s a slow and painful process and might take years to achieve but we will get there eventually. We should not despair and surrender that quickly and keep in mind that initiatives like Beirut Madinati were not even possible 6 years ago.

Holding elections is a victory for all Lebanese
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Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and elections are of utmost importance in any democratic country. Unfortunately, our democracy is not a fully functional one and several blatant violations and electoral fraud were reported yesterday (Source: Beirut Madinati). Nevertheless, movements like Beirut Madinati, with the help of NGOs like LADE for example that are specialized in monitoring elections and detecting violations, can help promote further transparency and fight corruption and bribes.

I am still waiting for the official results to come out to see how close the numbers were between Beirut Madinati and Beirutis List but from what I was told, the difference wasn’t that huge which is a remarkable achievement.

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All in all, change does not happen overnight and all of us need to keep fighting for what we believe in even if we can’t reap the benefits right now. Incremental change is the only way to change the Lebanese system, bring down the establishment and get rid of corruption, sectarianism and replace corrupt and incompetent officials with decent ones.

Till then, let us hold the winning candidates accountable and expose them whenever they break their promises, which they probably will repeatedly.

Caught on Video: Selling Votes for $200 in Zahle

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fraud

The Interior Ministry should investigate that video and take the necessary measures. There has been talks since the morning about bribes in Zahle yet the ministry insisted there was no proof. This looks like clear proof to me unless the whole video is fabricated.

In all cases, this needs to be investigated.

Her: Wou iza ro7na 2adde bi2abbedna?
Deghre bi2abdik.
Her: Houwwe 3and Fattoush fo2 3am bi2abdo?
Eh bil Markaz.
Her: 2adde ya3ne chi $200?
Kam chakhess into?
Her: Ne7na chi 4.

Her: Keef Mnestelim el Massare?
Deghre bitsawtle min hone bto2bade min haydek. Henne Mandoubeen honeek.

Municipal Elections: All Polling Stations Should be Wheelchair-accessible

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isf The way they are carrying her up the stairs doesn’t look that safe to be honest

The ISF tweeted earlier today pictures showing officers carrying a woman in a wheelchair up the stairs in order to vote. It’s nice of them but elections sites, some if not all of them, should be wheelchair/walker accessible. All polling stations should be accessible for elderly individuals and people with disabilities as per the 220/2000 law, the 2007 Boutros Commission’s Draft Law25, the 25/2008 Electoral Law26, Enforcement Decree 2214/2009 and the 2010 draft law of Former Interior Minister Ziad Baroud.

Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and alternative means of voting should be provided in case no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place.

Unfortunately not all security forces were as friendly as those portrayed in the above picture.

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Nadine from NewsRoomNomad wrote more on this matter.