Instead of tackling homosexuality in Lebanon in an objective and scientific matter, OTV decided to promote the show by asking whether homosexuality is a fashion trend or an illness. In order to be fair, I did bother and watch the show and while the doctors and Pierre Bou Saab were mostly spot on and made sense, the host kept asking the wrong questions and making wrong assumptions and over-generalizing.
Homosexuality is not a trend nor an illness and people don’t choose to become gay. While people are affected by environmental and social factors, almost everyone agrees that sexual orientation has nothing to do with choice, and even if it did, no one is entitled to judge others based on that or call it an illness. Moreover, I don’t know why she assumed that more Lebanese recently are rejecting this “weird phenomenon” as she calls it. There aren’t any studies or surveys to prove that and if that’s the case, awareness is much needed then. We shouldn’t portray gay people as being different or weird and we should help them in their struggle against ignorance and hatred.
On another note, the host didn’t even know what LGBT stands for and thought it was a cool term gay people use nowadays. She also said biosexual instead of bisexual in the first part (Between Minute 3:20 and 3:35) and the doctor corrected her. I’m glad she didn’t bring any religious people but the show didn’t send out the right message and promoting it the way they did was a bad move.
Here’s the [first part] for those interested in watching.
Four years ago, the Happiness Heroes helped students from schools all across Lebanon to become socially aware at a younger age and encouraged principals to become more socially responsible and environment-friendly. This year, Picon’s Machrou3 el Jil el Jadeed initiative was launched to empower young Lebanese students, encourage them to serve their community by presenting their creative ideas and showing what they are capable of.
As you all know, our country has no electricity, no proper internet, a bad water-management policy, no proper infrastructure or means of transportation, lousy roads and no urban planning. Since our government is unable to fix any of these things, why don’t we give kids a chance to present their ideas to fix the country and maybe implement some of them?
Of course students wouldn’t know how to come up with project plans and that’s why a workshop was organized where students took part in discussions and listened to motivational speeches, and worked on developing their innovative ideas with the help of professionals. After going through all submissions, five great ideas will be selected for every region and the public will be able to vote for the best idea through Facebook and Picon website. At the end of the voting period, there will be one winning idea, which will be implemented in all five regions in coordination with municipalities and trained professionals.
This initiative reminded me a bit of the movie Pay It Forward where a young boy tries to make the world a better chance and launches a good-will movement all because of an assignment given in class. Who knows? Maybe one of the ideas proposed will be a brilliant one and make an impact on our society.
Check out this fun video done with George Khabbaz and you can read more about this initiative [here].
Picture taken from Al Akhaa Ahli Aley Football Team Archive
This picture, which was shared by Hazem al Amin today, pretty much sums up how the Syrian Civil War has spilled over into Lebanon. It shows two Lebanese football players Ahmad Diab and Hussein el Amin celebrating a goal back in 2013 in a game against Ansar club.
Few months after this game, Ahmad Diab committed a terrorist suicide bombing while Hussein went to Syria to fight with Hezbollah. Both were members of the same football team and used to fight together to win every game, yet somehow turned into sworn enemies in a fight that is not even ours.
The judge in charge of Yves Nawfal’s murder has recommended the death penalty for six people and sentences ranging from three to 20 years for the others, before referring the case to the Criminal Court in Baabda. I know it’s still a bit early for the court’s final judgment but Yves’ killers will probably get the death penalty for what they’ve done.
Personally speaking, I’ve always been against capital punishment and I wish they would abolish it in Lebanon and replace it with a sentence for perpetuity. Taking away someone’s life as a punishment should not be a legal option, even if the murderer is a ruthless bastard. Killing Yves’ murderers won’t bring him back to life but instead give them publicity that they don’t deserve. Moreover, applying the death penalty can be arbitrary and politicized and you can’t undo a mistake once you discover a man has been executed for a crime he did not commit. Last week, a wrongly jailed man accused of the rape and murder of mother of four in the US got $6M award after he had spent 21 years in jail. All in all, I am sure there are many arguments against capital punishment, mainly ethical and religious one, but for me, killing should not be a way of punishment and that’s about it. Also, jailing someone for 20-30 years is a tougher punishment in my opinion that taking away his life.
A video spotted on Facebook showing a father beating his children violently – However I don’t understand how death penalty could be an answer to such an act.
Of course some may argue that there’s corruption everywhere in Lebanon, specially in prisons, and the only way to make sure murderers stay in prison or get punished is by executing them, but I am sure there are other means to do so. In all cases, Yves’ murderers deserve to stay in prison for a very long time and I hope they do.
A survey was conducted by Sakker el Dekkene in order to evaluate the attitude of Lebanese citizens towards corruption and their willingness to compromise on their principles and bribe officials. 7810 doors were knocked and 4873 persons were contacted to obtain a sample of 1200 respondents across the entire country and the results were as follows:
– 62% of the Lebanese population would not wait in line
– 25% of the population would certainly compromise on values and principles to reach material objectives.
– 38% of the population would go around a queue.
Corruption and Age:
– Youth are more willing to make compromising choices than older generations.
– 30% of those aged 55 and above admit that they would seek outside interference against a police officer doing his job.
– 62% of those aged 18 to 24 would call for interference against a law enforcement officer on duty.
Corruption and income level/political identity:
– 38% of the higher income level respondents say they will sure bribe to get a public servant’s signature to avoid delay (vs 16% of lowest income level).
– There’s no difference between political sides with regard to corruption
Perceived Corruption levels in public institutions:
– Only 14% of the population fully trusts the judiciary. When asked why, 64% of the respondents mentioned spontaneously political interference, and 49% mentioned corruption.
– 93% of the respondents consider corruption widespread at the port and 86% in the cadaster.
– The least corrupt institution is the Lebanese Army.
– Public opinion locates corruption in Port, Vehicle Registration, Cadaster, Ministry of Finance and the legal sector as top targets.
All in all, half the citizens are willing to report corruption, as long as it does not backfire on them, and as long as it leads to results. I think the most worrying figure is the fact that the younger generation is more willing to compromise on its principles. It is our duty to report bribes and put an end to corruption and Sakker el Dekkene is providing a platform to do so.
Check out their [website] and make good use of it.
I am sure you all opened that post to check out how someone can dance and smoke arguile at the same time, but the aim was to shed the light on a Facebook page “Sa2afetna” launched recently and aimed at bringing back our true culture and encouraging people to make a difference and share the stories that matter most. Of course it doesn’t hurt to share fun videos from time to time but the problem is when media rely on such videos and clickbaits to boost their views instead of creating proper content and sharing fun and silly videos from time to time.
Civil marriage in Lebanon was dealt a setback last week after Interior Minister Machnouk’s statement. During an interview on Kalam Ennas, Machnouk said that he doesn’t encourage legalizing civil marriage and that “Cyprus is not too far”. Legally speaking, couples can still get married in a civil way in Lebanon but their wedding won’t be registered as long as the minister refuses to sign them, which is problematic for them and more importantly for their children. Surprisingly enough, Minister Machnouk was at some point in favor of civil marriage but for some reason changed his position. I hope we can still count on Saad Hariri’s support whenever he comes back.
The ever-growing influence of religious authorities and the lack of officials brave enough to take the initiative and legitimize civil marriage in Lebanon are still the main obstacles and I honestly don’t see any changes happening anytime soon.
Here’s a reminder on the steps to follow to get a civil marriage in Lebanon:
– Go to a mayor and fill in a request to strike off your sect from your ID.
– Submit the form at the personal status directorate of your region
– Get a proof of address (إفادة سكن) for you and your spouse.
– Perform medical tests for you and your spouse and get witnesses for your wedding.
– Afterwards, you need to post a memo on your new house’s door stating that you are getting marriage in a civil way and asking people to contest the marriage if they have a valid reason. Once done, you can go sign your marriage contract at your notary public!
The UN announced last week that Syrians have overtaken Afghans as the largest refugee population (aside from Palestinians) as they’ve fled to over 100 countries to escape war in Syria. They are more than 3 million refugees as of mid-2014 with almost 1.1 million registered refugees in Lebanon. Lebanon’s population has grown by nearly 25% ever since the war in Syria began in 2011.
Fortunately, Lebanon has started to impose visa restrictions earlier this year and I am hoping other measures will be taken to organize this whole mess and regroup the current refugees in decent camps.
Yves deserved candles not bullets, he deserved birthday cakes and celebrations not a funeral. I didn’t know Yves, neither did many of us, but we all helped spread his story and ask for the arrest of his killers because we are fed up with thugs and criminals mocking justice and doing whatever they like. We forced some politicians to come out and deny covering for these criminals and we should continue to push until justice prevails. I believe in our juridical system and I am positive there’s a number of decent judges in this country but we need to keep the pressure on and make sure every murderer gets arrested.
Until then, my good friend wrote this beautiful letter that I thought is worth sharing:
So I woke up there, it’s such a beautiful and a calm place… The last thing I remember that I was partying with my friends and enjoying my time.
I didn’t realize where I was until two beautiful angels walked towards me and welcomed me to heaven and took my hand and asked me to join them.
They showed me my room, it looks small from the outside and I was surprised, is this really heaven everyone talks about? But when I walked in I was shocked by how huge it is from the inside.
The room had 4 windows, I walked towards the first one; I saw my mom, she was there crying while looking at my picture, I called her name “Mum, I’m fine, I am here not physically but you can close your eyes and there I am hugging you and telling you how much I love you”. I couldn’t see her that way, I looked away.
The second window showed my dad, my hero. I whispered: “Dad, I know how strong you are and whenever you will break down, I will take your hand and lift you up, the way you lifted me up every time I fell since I was a kid”
The third window showed my sister, that’s when I was speechless and I couldn’t say a word.
The fourth window got bigger the closer I got to it and when I looked through it, tears of happiness filled my eyes and I couldn’t stop smiling as I was seeing many people from Lebanon and around the globe supporting #JusticeForYves.
For a second I stopped there and looked at my friends and the people who did not know me and I smiled, there were people from all around the globe.
I’m here to thank you, I’m there in each and everyone of you.
I don’t want any of you to be Yves, Stand up for me and for you.
And as I was going to get some rest, an angel knocked at my door with a cart full of letters that are from you, prayers and pictures.
Thank you people,
At least two children froze to death in Lebanon’s refugee camps the past week and thousands of others are still threatened by this merciless winter. If you wish to help them by donating clothes, blankets or money (not by stripping in the snow), there are several organizations and NGOs accepting donations:
1- Leb4refugees will be collecting warm clothes, wool sweaters, blankets and food this Saturday, January 10, 2014 in Kantari street, next to Haigazian University – Hamra. You can call +9613315500 or +96170 871 236 for further information and donate [here].
2- Basmeh & Zeitooneh have been distributing food and blankets to several camps in the Bekaa. You can finance the Winter campaign for Syrian refugees in Lebanon using this [link] or call the below numbers:
Beirut – 76088190
Bekaa/Bar Elias – 76012669
Tripoli – 70194284
3- Sawa for Development and Aid: They collected over 10,000 bags of clothes last year and they’ve joined the winter campaign for Syrian refugees as well this year. You can donate using this [website] or call them at +961 78974462.
The Leb4refugees campaign is taking place today so if you have some old blankets or warm clothes that you wish to give away, pass by and help these poor refugees stay warm this winter.
PS: If you have other initiatives or organizations that I haven’t mentioned, please do let me know and I will gladly add them.