Living without a smartphone in Lebanon.

 

I remember the first time I used WhatsApp, it was on someone’s else Blackberry, I was amazed, I had “MSN” right in my hands. Years later, a lot of smartphone users have to combat a mild or high addiction.

I have dropped my smartphone because of several reasons:

  • I thought it was badly affecting some of my personal relationships.
  • It was affecting how I use my “own” time.
  • I am very concerned about privacy.
  • I was sick of it and I wanted to experiment with “smartphone-free” time.

Before making the leap of faith, I was already trying to reduce my usage time to a bare 1:30 or 2 hours a day and was succeeding. I had a tracker in my phone that helped a lot reducing the time of usage. But I was deleting (and reinstalling) social media apps, switching my addictions between Twitter and Facebook. Controlling myself was possible, I had done it, but an addiction can’t be solved with the constant presence of the drug itself, the smartphone. It is like trying to be alcohol free or tobacco-free while they are only within a reach away.

I am using a “feature phone” or “dumb phone” and have been doing so for the past 3 months. (at the time of writing)

My phone can take pictures and selfies, but has space for literally one picture,(expandable with a microSD), it has even internet access. Whatsapp is not supported. Its screen is not a touch screen. Its a more or less basic device with a primary use: phone calls and sms’s.

Switching.

We constantly check our smartphones for anything new, we “unlock” and “lock” our devices constantly, I was certainly doing so. Ironically, when I got the dumb phone, I was doing the same, checking it constantly for novelty. The new monopoly of smartphone devices is so strong that I continued to have my “psychological routes” onto my new phone for a few weeks or so. This waned with time.

Regarding technicalities, the most annoying part is the fact that I had to build up my contact lists from scratch. I added number from my Google Contacts when I needed them. There were obviously no options to “sync”.

I switched my Whatsapp use with Signal and Telegram. Unlike Whatsapp, Signal doesn’t need you to have a connected turned on smartphone, and Telegram doesn’t need you to have a smart phone at all.

Living without a smartphone.

I didn’t expect a “radical” switch in my life because of dropping my smartphone. I am not very interested in “productivity” or “efficiency”. My goal was not to become more productive. My goal was to simply let go of this device and see what will happen.

The good stuff.

  • I’m reading more (much more offline than online) now that I have less time to watch cat videos. (I still happily look at them on my laptop).
  • It feels good to have a battery life of two weeks or so. I feel like I am actually saving some power. I’m not constantly looking for a charger. I’m now charger-stress free.
  • I used to sometimes drive and use my smartphone and this was terrible, I can’t do this anymore.
  • I’m a Twitter addict, I always want to know the latest news. Without a smartphone, my rush for breaking news is now reduced. I can always “catch up” later and that’s fine.
  • My other rush, sharing stuff, thoughts, images, memes, is also reduced. It feels good to be completely present. Not having any kind of rush to look at my smartphone when I’m in a meeting or simply hanging out with friends feels good. Sharing a moment, not sharing pictures or videos of that moment, feels good.

The not so good stuff.

  • It is extremely expensive to make phone calls and send SMS’s in Lebanon.
  • I miss taking pictures of stuff I see that might be interesting, a sign, a protest, a graffiti, a cat. I also want to remember some events, like a nice dinner. I have a camera in my phone, but it is way too shitty. Maybe I should expand my storage.
    Fortunately, others can take pictures and send them to me. This could be easily covered with a camera, but for now, it just feels weird to bring my professional DSLR everywhere. But maybe I should.
  • I spend more time on my laptop. Deleting Facebook is surely an option that has been floating in my mind for years.


I know, smartphones has its uses.

Smartphones are useful, this is certain. Having a “one-for-all” device can be seen as an efficient manner to reduce the “time of switching” between devices.

For example, one could write a text with a smartphone and print it directly (via wireless internet) on a printer. A picture can be shared without “waiting”, no need to go to a laptop and then annoyingly share it from your email.
Smartphones are very important tools to stay connected with friends and family, and it is amazing to connect with your loved ones wherever they are. For example, refugees used smartphones as treasures to be kept and guarded closely because of this connection.

Smartphones are efficient devices, maybe that’s why they are so addictive. They somehow fasten our world. Aren’t just smartphones a reflection or a expression of our current fastened and globalized societies?

The following from the author Bauman resonates with me.

Fortunately, we now have what our parents could not even imagine: we have the internet and the world-wide web, we have ‘information highways’ connecting us promptly, ‘in real time’, to every nook and cranny of the planet, and all that inside these handy pocket-size mobile phones or iPods, within our reach day and night and moving wherever we do. Fortunately? Alas, perhaps not that fortunately after all, since the bane of insufficient information that made our parents suffer has been replaced by the yet more awesome bane of a flood of information which threatens to drown us and makes swimming or diving (as distinct from drifting or surfing) all but impossible. How to sift the news that counts and matters from the heaps of useless and irrelevant rubbish? How to derive meaningful messages from senseless noise? In the hubbub of contradictory opinions and suggestions we seem to lack a threshing machine that might help us separate the grains of truth and of the worthwhile from the chaff of lies, illusion, rubbish and waste . . .”

Maybe I will get back a smartphone, but for now, I’m happy without it.

How power is applied and diffused in the roads of Lebanon.

 

 

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El Khoury, a candidate with the Free Patriotic Movement in the 2018 Lebanese parliamentary elections.

 

Beirut, Lebanon.

Not a long time ago, I was driving in Beirut, I entered a one-way street, but a car, driving the wrong way, blocked “my way”.
I decided to resist, simply because it was “my way”, I had the right to pass because of the rules the Beirut city had put up. But the other car was also resisting, and quite violently. It was a big 4×4, with black tainted windows, it had a short number on its plate, and the car was advancing with short bursts against the little space between our cars. The driver couldn’t be seen, but he (or she but most probably he) started to honk repeatedly. After one minute or so, I decided to “yield” the way and drove on a rear gear until the big car could pass. I had bent to force.

Residents of Lebanon spend a lot of time on the roads within cities and between them. Whether we use a private car or public transport, we are exposed to drivers / car owners who apply their power or high hierarchical positions on others drivers / road users.  (within different contexts and environments).

We’ve all seen a convoy blocking a road for dozens of minutes, rendering the whole circulation still, we’ve been all harassed by a big car trying to push us aside, often, they will have a short matriculation plate number, if any, the drivers will be always males, violent, brutal.

We are exposed to a blunt display of power by those who hold it on roads. We “meet” them directly, physically, when a “normal” car owner is exposed to a convoy for example.

Some cars (and subsequently their owners) display power in a “formal” manner. We can think of any car in direct official positions of power within the parliament, government, security branches and state institutions. Their power is deemed as “legitimate” by some because of its “official” nature.

Others display it less formally, they do not hold official positions, but are high on the hierarchy of classes (ruling class), or are closely connected to the ruling class. (Big wasta, but no capital)

Lebanon is, I believe, quite unique with this display of power on the roads. The main message behind this display and application of power is: we own the country, and thus, we own the roads. Convoys, of course, do block general transport in other countries, but not at the same daily rate as in Lebanon, and certainly not in the same manner.

Taking back time and space.

We can look at the extreme [formal] example of convoys that block roads and main highways for sometimes dozens of minutes. While it is claimed that security is the first reason behind this phenomenon, the convoys carry a greater message of power. The “leaders” of this country are showing that they are able to own space and time. They show they own their own time by reducing useless traffic time, and own the time of the “normal” citizen, by elevating his or her time spent in traffic. They also own your space, even if it is not permanent, a convoy will block you from moving freely in your “own” country.

“Time is money”

Usually this saying is tied to the “opportunity costs” when “losing time”. Losing time means losing profits.

With convoys, time and space can be determined as an asset, or capital, taken away from the “normal citizens” (the ones outside of the ruling class). Time IS in fact money [i.e: capital] and losing time in traffic for the ruling class is not an option.

Sharing space, but not really.

Other examples could be a car owner that “shares” your space and time on the roads, but will try their best to take back this space and time for their benefits [and again, to expose their power]. Anyone driving or spending time on the roads of Lebanon can tell you about a car that tried, for no reason, to push you aside. These cars have often black tainted windows, adding to the supposed high elevation on the social strata. [could mean they hold tools of wealth / capital creation or just a direction “connection” to a powerful lord]. Drivers are often not seen not because of security reasons; black tainted windows just add a layer to the separation between the ruling class, and the classes under it.

Other cars will display power without really annoying your driving or ride, but by displaying this power, one will make sure to get away from them, and not attract problems. One could think about any car tied to the Internal Security Forces, General Security, the Army, Jamerek, any “political car” (with a yellow number). Most of them will own cars with black tainted windows, again, for so called security reasons.

لحظة وصول موكب دولة الرئيس نبيه بري الى مدينة النبطية like zrerieh.net page on facebook

Publiée par ‎موقع الزرارية الاخباري‎ sur Dimanche 30 août 2015

Nabih Berri, the eternal head of the Lebanese parliament, arriving to Nabatieh.

Cars with “normal numbers” [white plates in Lebanon] will reveal the power of their owners in other ways, either again with black tainted windows, annoying and loud honks, and short numbers. Small numbers, or “unique” ones (i:e: 666444, 10000, 300) will send a clear message of power and capital accumulation. These numbers, often bought for thousands of dollars, will show that the drivers are not “anyone” but people that can hurt you if they are “hurt”, (if you would honk at them for example). These numbers of course are often associated with luxurious, sport cars, once again, showing prestige and power.

Some numbers even reportedly show a connection to some powerful politician from the ruling class, sending also a message to the regulating police for example that these cars and their owners can’t be annoyed by a red light, or general traffic rules.

Showing power with numbers [literally] doesn’t stop with car numbers, it also applies to telephone numbers. In Lebanon, holding a 03—— can mean a lot, [due to its current unavailability] but holding a number like 03030303 sends a message: “my number is important and can be remembered easily, also, I paid for it hundreds or thousands of dollars”. Today in Lebanon, it is normal to see “numbers on display” to be sold in telephones stores.

Machismo- Patriarchy on the roads.

Exhibiting your “power”, tied to the capital held by oneself, [capital here could also mean connections to the ruling class] on the roads is for most of the time intrinsically linked with patriarchy. “Applying your power” here also means “defending it”. Men, who basically hold power in patriarchal Lebanon, will thus expose themselves on the roads to defend the power they hold. This defense though, include harassment, and full machismo attitudes. This attitude can be deadly, as Lebanon witnessed a terrible stabbing of a man, Georges al-Rif, after an altercation on the road.

We could also recall the murder of a young man, Roy Hamouche, with a bullet in his head. Him and his friends were followed, cornered, and Hamouche was murdered coldly.

We feel Anger because roads are arranged into classes.

Drivers and riders in Lebanon might feel angrier and frustrated all the time, not only because of the endless congestion and the bad infrastructure, but also because car drivers are organized into classes.

Being exposed daily to a better treatment to a tiny minority, we feel an injustice and a certain rage. A recent study in air rage found:

Physical inequality on airplanes—that is, the presence of a first class cabin—is associated with more frequent air rage incidents in economy class. Situational inequality—boarding from the front (requiring walking through the first class cabin) versus the middle of the plane—also significantly increases the odds of air rage in both economy and first class.

14710071401_6ff029193c_b.jpg

We can deduce that classes on the roads, airlines, everywhere, might be one of the source of anger and frustration and even divisions among individuals that may be socioeconomically close to each other.

Conclusion: what to do?

Power is not an immobile phenomenon. It doesn’t only reside in the “rooms of power”, (Government palace, parliament). It moves through many layers of society. We could recall Michel Foucault sayings on power:

‘Power is everywhere’ and ‘comes from everywhere’ so in this sense is neither an agency nor a structure (Foucault 1998: 63).

We have to demystify power in Lebanon, and we might do it by redrawing what power itself means. Usually this means breaking the walls of fear around us, and this also means breaking the fortified walls of power, diffused all over the country.
Practically, regarding the road kingdom, we have to push for the near complete removal of black tainted windows and other features of blunt domination, including owning guns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanon’s parliamentary elections of 2018.

Lebanese people have not participated in this “democratic exercise” since 2009, because of the violation and abuse of power and the occupation of the parliament with 3 illegitimate extensions. (Lebanese were supposed to vote in 2013)

Needless to say, quite lot has happened since 2009 in Lebanon and the region: the Arab Spring, the uprisings and revolutions being the most significant.

Parties holding power in Lebanon broke their alliances formed in 2005 (8 March, 14 March) and now have somehow created links between all of them through coalitions and partnerships. The most significant breaking up of this polarity happened with the elections of Aoun in October 2016.

It is sadly not the goal of this article to write about this saga. The website Moulahazat goes into much details.

Before the “election” of Aoun, Lebanese people voted for their municipalities in May 2016, and the Beirut municipality battle showcased that parties will gather and ally in order to face new forces. All parties but Hezbollah (who had no big interest in a seat in the Beirut municipality) joined arms together and still barely won against Beirut Madinati list, an independent list.

The many combinations to first beat down a new possible force in Beirut and then to end the presidential crisis created somehow a new political reality, or just revealed what is the real nature of all powerful parties in Lebanon.

And thus, unsurprisingly, when the parliamentary elections got closer and it was time to form lists, a lot of alliances from the parties in power were formed. Alliances were formed on the basis of getting the highest votes and ensure seats in parliament, and was not based on the basis of any political identity or program. (Besides holding power as much as they can and as long as they can).

The Free Patriotic Movement, led by Gebran Bassil, is the best example for such alliances formed. Very often, it has allied with a group in X district, only to be against the same group in Y district. Once again suggesting that political opinions don’t really matter, only seats.

FPM

 

But is there a chance for change? And what is change?
The answer is no, there is no possibility for significant change.

Firstly, to speak about a “chance for change”, we assume that the two following conditions will be fulfilled:

1) A significant parliamentary seat change is possible and this change will benefit the new comers and their supporters.

2) We assume that this re-allocation of seats could lead to a form of a positive radical change.

Condition 1): A study published show that only 38 seats will be truly subject to change, while the wide majority of seats will simply get back to their old seat holders. Some new lists and coalitions have a small change of getting new seats.  A “chance for radical change” is not realistically possible in the parliament and the country.

2) Some candidates from the new comers lists, especially on the wide lists of Kulluna Watani or other seats like Madaniye in the Chouf are presenting a strong agenda and some strong progressive positions for Lebanon. Some candidates from Kulluna Watani and other independent are not only on point with human rights values, but with the economy itself. (The two can’t be separated).

The ruling parties won’t prepare their own poison.

The electoral law makers (MP’s and the power holders in this country) didn’t cook the electoral law dish in order to poison themselves. They know that this law, despite a few new entries here and there, will work to their benefits. Of course, only time will tell what the size of their losses will be, but the few seats won’t be enough to radically change the country. (neither will any elections).

It is a complex law, to say the least, but it is also a law that could allow “breaches”, Megaphone, a channel on Facebook and other social media platforms, explain it pretty well.

كيفية فرز الأصوات بقانون الإنتخابات الجديد

كيف بتم فرز الأصوات حسب القانون الجديد؟

Publiée par ‎Megaphone – ميغافون‎ sur Mercredi 21 mars 2018

Still, vote.

Voting is important because it could reveal first an approximation of the support new comers lists are receiving. Voters can be eventually new members of the groups that are trying to change things for the better in this country. Voters for the alternative, independent and progressive groups could be the base support for the groups to further grow.

The vote will be a first step to eventually grow and re-organize political groups and ideologies. If the parliament doesn’t self extend, we might witness a new stronger political coalition in 2022.

Hundreds of thousands of people who never voted could vote now, (the people from 20 to 29 years old), and they might push a new force within the parliament.

Choose rightly.

Today the voting law gives us finally the right to choose a candidate within a list. So we voters have the chance to choose a list not only according to its ideology on paper, but also specifically to each one’s history and positions.

A “preferential” vote supposedly mean that better candidates could get a seat (but not necessarily due to the complex electoral law).

A vote should be given to someone with a full and progressive program. And to a group that work with full transparency regarding their funding. Here are some points that should be fulfilled in my point of view.

  • Ensuring full rights and liberties for everyone in the country, and working with the oppressed minorities so that they can have full self-determination, rights, and freedoms, (and not co-opt their struggle).
  • Disapprove and reject neoliberal policies for the country. (Full liberalization, focus on finances, PPP’s etc, amass public debt,)
  • Ensuring universal rights: water access, electricity access, free education, free universal healthcare, free public spaces, affordable and accessible housing.
  • Ensuring transparency during their work in the parliament and full access to information to everyone.
  • Ensuring the country is not a political chessboard of foreign nations in the region and beyond.

Tools to help us choose:

Needless to say, do not vote for the parties in the current government, do not vote for parties with blood on their hands, (from the times of the civil war or other times), do not vote for parties that receive their funding from outside countries, do not vote for parties who self-extended their MP’s 3 times, do not vote for anyone that allied with the current power holders.

In order to help us better choose, we might take a look at Mist3ideen. Mist3ideen is a group of activists who try to look at who might the better candidate (especially from the new comers) by their standard, their list is helpful and detailed.

Human Rights Watch also published a list of candidates or parties that respect their 10 human rights points:

201803mena_lebanon_elections

 Why is this election somehow important?

If the results are favorable to the diverse candidates from civil society, this is will be a test for them. New MP’s might not bring radical change, some might even serve the ruling class consciously or unconsciously, but some others might bring a new image to the Lebanese MP.

One that communicates with people, one that is accessible, one that asks the government pertinent questions, one that serves the interests of the many, not the few.

 

 

 

 

 

Pros and cons of Lebanon’s car service.

Before jumping into the pros and cons of the service, I will try to shortly explain what is a service.

The “service” is a method of public transport in Lebanon. A person who wishes to move within Beirut, for example, has to stop a car and communicates where he or she wants to go. If the driver accepts the destination, the person hops in and the default cost will be 2,000 Lebanese Lira. One service is 2,000 L.L.
If the driver is not happy with the destination (not on his way, too far), he or she can either just drive away and the person wishing to move waits for another car, or the driver can try to negotiate.
The driver will either negotiate with the destination (I can drop you in X place but not further), or usually with the price. The driver could ask “two services”, which costs 4,000 L.L.
A service can be shared with other occupants.

A service can be “transformed” into a Taxi, if both parties agree. One could stop one taxi / service car and just say that you want a taxi to X destination. The default price of a Taxi is 8,000 L.L This can also comes under “negotiation”, the driver can simply rejects it or try to elevate the price. A taxi is usually negotiated for longer distances or if someone wants a ride alone or a straight A to B path. (and of course if the persons has the means for a taxi)

The pros of the Service:

  •  The driver has power into deciding if a trip will be cost effective or not, (with regards to time, traffic, distance).
  • A car can be filled into its full capacity, a service might be much “greener” than a taxi, only filled with one or two persons most of the time.
  • More availability for people seeking to move. A car with one person or two doesn’t mean that you cannot take the service. With taxis, a car occupied by one single person is not even an option.
  • You could go to a place and the price that you pay would be actually less than the real price to move there (in terms of gas). (this is due to the very grey area of what a service in distance actually represents).

The cons of the service:

  • For other drivers, the service is disruptive. Most of Beirut streets are narrow, meaning that a service that stops and negotiate with a prospective occupant takes time and disrupts drivers behind.
  • You could be paying for more than the trip deserves, but again, this is all due to the grey area of what a service actually means in terms of distance.
  • The driver seeks other occupants and might not take the straightest path to your destination. So a service can be actually less cost-efficient than a taxi if there is a single occupant. And usually, it is slower for all occupants.
  • Although the system is clear, some drivers tweak it and began asking more money because of traffic, or just because they consider that the price ought to be higher.
  • The driver can decide to suddenly drop you somewhere because he or she found new occupants that are judged to be more profitable. This means two things: you could be dropped closer to your destination without paying anything. Or you could be somehow further than where you were originally. In both ways, this means that the person has to find a new service, which is not a very practical way to move.

 

We live in a sexist world and society where survivors of harassment (mostly women) have to struggle through other sexist institutions to have their voices heard or to have justice. This of course is also true to public transport.

Possible solutions:

  • Taxis / Service should have a place where they could stop and talk with prospective occupants.
  • There should be a system where occupants can’t be evicted from the service and where drivers can’t suddenly change the cost of the service.
  • Cars have to be traced back by only the occupants. The car number and the name of the driver have to be visible inside the car. Any harasser would be apprehended with more ease. (I do not support any kind of citizen police).

People living in Lebanon have of course more ways to move within cities and between cities. Public transport can be more pleasant, fairer and must keep its low prices.

Finally, it is self evident that if we want to have a more pleasant ride for all, the number of cars have to be reduced, including taxi / services cars. This can happens through the expansion of public transport like dedicated lines for buses, trains, tramways.

 

 

 

Let’s not wait for the passing away of X politician.

In Lebanon and its hopeless economic situation, a lot of people wait for the death of X politician or leader. “After that X leader will pass away, the country will be better off,” and I can understand why people residing in Lebanon and outside are hopeful about the old age of some politicians.

But losing one head of the multi-head snake that is the ruling class won’t kill the beast.

A politician that has passed away doesn’t remove the debts he enforced on the citizens of this country, nor it doesn’t remove the system of capitalist / sectarian oppression he installed over the years with many partners and institutions.

Usually, the “Leader” will be replaced by a member of his own family, and Lebanon is a great example at “recycling” the political families with each generation. Teymour Jumblatt, today is refilling the role of Walid Jumblatt, who filled the role of his father, Kamal, and the latter also filled the role of his father, Fouad.

Some people rejoice at the idea that a party without a strong leader will wane away because of internal political battles within the party created by a power vacuum. This is not impossible, but this is not enough to make the life of people in this country better.

Dismantling the ruling class system of oppression will take time, and the passing away of a figure or two obviously won’t change the economic apparatus of Lebanon.

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond the end of sectarianism, and beyond civil law.

The Lebanese parliamentary elections are approaching quickly and a wide array of new groups aim to challenge the traditional power holders of this country, (the ones in parliament, the government and beyond).

Some of of them, such as LiBaladi, Haqqi, hold progressive and liberal point of views.

Participating in a sectarian, proportional, and complicated elections, many new groups believe in a civil state, basically, justice, law and state have to be separated from religious authorities.

Sectarianism is an obvious ill in Lebanon, but it is often a layer (or a curtain) to the ills behind it.

I personally feel that a lot of people and groups often believe that if sectarianism comes to an end in Lebanon, if political parties don’t rely themselves anymore on sectarian manipulation and quotas, if law is separated from religion, then Lebanon would be a functioning nation, with fair services and laws to citizens, and a fair justice system.

It is obvious that it is not the case, all we have to do is to look at other secular, civil nations. Inequality and corruption are also present there, and there is one common layer to all current societies, and it is a harsh, neo-liberal form of capitalism.

Current groups and people fighting for seats in the parliament (or change) have to see this.

Sectarianism isn’t the greatest ill of this country.

To end the current post, I’ll cite the late thinker Bassem Chit:

The reason why many consider sectarianism as a “counter-nationalist” and a “pre-modern expression” is due to the fact that most dominant interpretations of the historical developments of modern Arab and Middle Eastern societies are crude and Eurocentric – in which the development of capitalism (and thus modernity) is understood to follow the European model. In this case the understanding of modernity is that of an ideological break with religious establishments and ideas.

Nabih Berri the Ax Wielder. (Or بلطجي)

That word is but a weak one to describe Berri, Gebran Bassil, their friends, the ruling class. I’d rather use words like “vampires, zombies” or worse, “bankers”.

But the word بلطجي has an interesting story. It originates from the Turkic* family language. Arabic obtained it with the spread of the Ottoman empire in the region. The word is baltacı and it has a completely different meaning in Turkish. It means Ax builder or Ax wielder. (In Turkish suffixes such as ci or are used to describe many professions or roles so baltacı is derived from balta, which means ax). And Arabic got the same role for ji. (Kababji for example in Lebanon).

A Baltacı was a palace guard of the ottoman empire. And there is even a Pasha named Baltacı Mehmet Pasha. History, of course, led the word to have a derogatory connotation.

berri baltaji.jpg

Turkish speaking people seeing the news from Lebanon thus must wonder why and how that word brought us yet again to the brink of another civil war. And it must be funny in their heads, imagining Berri with an ax.

Ax wielder, with the history of the militiaman Berri, is in fact a perfect description and insult.


* Assuming the word is present in all Turkic languages.

 

 

 

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I am with…

A simple explanation for simple minded pro dictatorships people.

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I am with Daesh nor any form of regressive Islamist forces in Syria. (And by the way, you have a MULTITUDE of sides in Syria).

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I support the USA nor Israel. It doesn’t mean I stand with American imperialism. Nor with its involvement in Syria. (very limited compared to the Russian “invitation”).

If I am against Assad, it doesn’t mean I support Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE. It doesn’t mean I support Erdogan. It doesn’t mean I support the Saudi onslaught on Yemen. It doesn’t mean I support the Saudi invasion of Bahrain.

4856
Chris Riddel cartoon.

If I am against Hezbollah invasion of Syria, it doesn’t mean I do not stand with the right of self-determination in Palestine, it doesn’t mean I am a Zionist.

If I am against Hezbollah invasion of Syria, it doesn’t mean I want peace with Israel.

If I am against Assad, it means that I am with the downfall of all dictatorships and dynasties. The dynasties of the gulf, and the dictatorships of the world, including Iran and Russia. And hey, no, it doesn’t mean I love the system in US and other parts of the world.

Go on, treat me as an Arab traitor, treat me and condemn me with your simple and unjust perception of the world. I will always stand with oppressed Syrians under the repressive regime of Bashar el Assad and regressive factions, and I will always stand with the oppressed Palestinians under the repressive Zionist colonial state.

I do not need your approvals nor your sad strategy of “resistance”.

Students Harassed by Online pro-Hezbollah Crowd.

At the moment of writing, Aleppo rebel held areas are collapsing one after the other under the heavy bombardments of Assad and Putin. The aerial bombing is helping the ‘Syrian army’ and various militias on the ground, mainly funded or trained by Iran. The bombing does NOT differentiate between civilians and rebels. Aleppo has been under siege for 110 days.

In Lebanon, Beirut. The American Universty of Beirut (AUB) Secular club held a silent vigil for the victims in Aleppo on December 6th 2016. Students held signs, some of the latter were protesting Hezbollah intervention in Aleppo. The protest triggered  violent online reactions from some Hezbollah supporters. The club hid the face of a protester for security reasons, but not the message itself.

Due to the multitude of disrespectful comments, death threats, and rape threats that were being posted on a photo…

Publiée par AUB Secular Club sur Mercredi 7 décembre 2016

 

Karim Safieddine, a member of the AUB Secular Club, reflects on the nature of the online attacks.

A few comments on the reaction many activists received by some of the pro-Hezbollah community online.

These activists, mainly part of the AUB Secular Club, engaged in a demonstration concerned with the on-going battle in Aleppo. As a Lebanese political and military organization, Hezbollah was taken into account as it intervened in the Syrian conflict and is responsible for the survival of the Syrian government and much of its policies.

The demonstration was purely political, as these activists held political ideals they expressed quite freely. To no surprise, when politics intersects with the concept of ‘religious duty’, ‘sacredness’ and martyrs, it’s no longer a political question, but an absolute answer. Hezbollah’s attaching of ‘sacredness’ to their political and military intervention in Syria lead to an enormous sensitivity among its youth circles.

The very ‘sacredness’ attached to the intervention of course renders it unquestionable, as in, it must be taken for granted. It’s the apriori.

This doesn’t completely differ from the pro-rebel Islamist reaction when activists critique them, it’s all ‘sacred’, from both opposing poles.

Besides that, it’s quite interesting to observe the backlash. Much of it wasn’t politically-oriented. There were no moral or clever analyses. The backlash was centered around ‘honor’ and insults made towards the ‘women’ of the demonstrators (as if we own ‘our women’).

In other words, the backlash was based on the clear patriarchal and man-based honor culture Hezbollah, as a political organization, is based on; almost identical to the Lebanese Forces during the civil war actually.

As expected, much of the remaining section of the community was mainly silently supportive. The blame would be put on the activists for expressing their views (“lesh la t7ot 7alak b hek maw2ef? why are you putting yourself in such a situation? “); they were then asked not to ‘generalize’.

Comrades such as Farah Baba (who received rape threats), Nour Hawila, Ali Zeineddine and many more have encountered countless sexist insults and harassment. This isn’t a recent and entirely new event, it’s one of a sequence.

Again, we repeat, quite frankly, that what’s happening in Aleppo is a massacre and Hezbollah is complicit in its active military support of the regime.