Category Archives: Society

Is Civil Marriage Legal Or Not In Lebanon?

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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!

#Lebanon Has The Highest Per Capita Concentration of Refugees in The World: 257 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants

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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.

A Letter From Yves

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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,
Much love,

How You Can Really Help Refugees During Winter In Lebanon

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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.

خلي_صوفتك_حمرا# (#‎khali_souftak_hamra‬): An Initiative To Help Refugees In Hamra

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A campaign was launched to support the refugees affected by the Zeina storm in Hamra. 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].

I think this is the perfect answer, even if unintentional, to counter the “Hamra isn’t Lebanese” article that was posted few days ago and was heavily criticized. We are having the worst winter storm in years and thousands of refugees are left without warm clothes, food or heating.

The Best Greeting Card To Our Lebanese Ministers and MPs

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Sakker el Dekkene surprised our MPs and Ministers by sending them a $100 fake dollar bill that says “In gangs we trust” instead of the original “In God We trust”. The aim was to surprise them and encourage them to refuse the bill in order to build a proper country “ملغومة ارفضها تيصير عنا بلد”. Ever since it started, Sakker el Dekkane received over 1600 acts of bribery, which showed that the average bribe per person is more than 1500 dollars a year.

The most corrupt ministry is the Ministry of Interior as per Sakker el Dekkene’s reporting tools, while the Ministry of Finance is reported to have the largest amount of wasted corrupt money especially in land registration and in customs. Here are the projects proposed by the NGO’s president Rabih el Chaher in an attempt to fight corruption and stop briberies.

Projects that may be considered important to develop are as follows:
1- Build a national authority to fight corruption and define a strategy to reduce acts of corruption in Lebanon.
2- Ensure the Independence of the Judiciary; enhance the relationship between public prosecutors and police stations; enforce the work of the central inspection and judicial inspection.
3- Reduce squandering in customs.
4- Reduce squandering in procurement; put pressure on the government to adopt terms of reference for the bidding process; and put pressure on the parliament to vote for amendment of the outdated public procurement law.
5- Track and penalize illegal acquisition of wealth through ‘min ayna laka haza?’ The fight against corruption should develop beyond formalities and should penalize all public sector employees who got richer at the expense of public interest.
6- Develop e-Government to eliminate intermediaries between citizens and public sector.

If you wanna know more about Sakker el Dekkene, check out their website [Here].


A Story About The Armenian Diaspora in Lebanon

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My friend Abir sent me this [heartwarming story] that she heard from her father and that is apparently popular among Armenians in Lebanon. Lebanese Armenians have been here for almost 100 years and are a vital part of our society, but Lebanon will never be the same as Armenia for the generations that had to flee the genocide or the Soviet rule. Just like Abir concluded, home is, most times, where we are safest not where the heart is and I believe a lot of Lebanese who fled the war in the 1990s and who are recently leaving to the Gulf can relate to that. Of course what the Lebanese went through during the civil war and the past 5 years is nothing compared to the Armenian genocide and the Soviet rule that followed it.

What I also loved about this story was the relationship between Abir’s father and Jean his Armenian friend. My best friend is Armenian (Hi Chahe :D), I have a lot of Armenian friends and I love how they’ve managed to integrate the society and keep their heritage alive (politics kept aside).

All in all, We all love our country but sometimes we need to make better choices for ourselves and our family. Read the whole story [Here].

My father said: “Jean, are you telling me that you will sell everything and move to a place you do not know the situation of? Are you willing to risk your life and the life of your children to go back to your homeland?”

Jean: “Saiid. It took Odysseus ten years to make it back home but he wasn’t deterred. Nothing could lure him from returning home. No land; no amount of money; no woman.”

Saiid: “Odysseus had a home and a wife to go back to. It is not like he was going back to nothing.”

After a short pause, my father continued: “If your brother cannot write back and tell you about the situation back there, why doesn’t he send a message in some other form?”

Jean laughed: “You and your creative mind! Are you going to think up a secret way of communication?”

My father responded in all seriousness: “Yes. I am going to.”

After a short pause, my father said: “Since you say your brother might risk his life if he relates any news to you about Armenia, you should think twice about going back. This alone is a sign that something is wrong. He doesn’t have to report things in writing. Have him instead send you a photograph of him.”

Jean: “Of him?”

Saiid: “Yes, of him. If the situation is excellent, he should send you a picture of him standing up. If the situation is mediocre, he should send a picture of him sitting down. If the situation is bad, he should send a picture of him squatting. This way, you will know what you’re getting yourself into.”

Jean liked the idea. It was smart, and it did not put the life of his brother at risk.

camp des Old Armenian Camp in Beirut

LiveLoveBeirut & JoueClubLiban Distributing Gifts To Poor Children This Christmas

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After I posted the above picture on my Instagram and it got shared by LiveLoveBeirut and went viral, JoueClub teamed up with the LiveLoveBeirut guys and launched the #welivelove campaign whereas every child in need that you find in the streets will get a Christmas gift from JoueClubLiban.

Well Christmas is here and the LiveLoveBeirut guys along with JoueClubLiban are distributing gifts to children in the streets. Here are a couple of pictures shared today and more to follow.



Pick Up Your Christmas Ball At Le Gray Beirut To Help Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon

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If you happen to pass by Le Gray Hotel next week, go in and check out their Christmas tree in the lobby. They have Christmas balls signed by the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon that you can take in exchange of any donation you wish to give. Once you take the ball and place the donation inside the box, replace it with a plain ball from the wooden basket on the floor.

It’s a simple and easy way to help out children in need during Christmas.