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.

 

 

Malcolm X on Lebanese women and on his lecture at AUB.

Malcolm X was a man that fiercely advocated for human rights of the African Americans who were badly segregated in the south of the USA and badly discriminated against in the North.

In 1964, after his iconic hajj pilgrim, he visited Beirut to give a speech in AUB. He took a walk in the streets of Beirut from the Palm Beach Hotel. In the streets, his “attention was struck by the mannerisms and attire of the Lebanese women.”

He then compares the Arabian Women of Saudi Arabia (he had just made his pilgrim) to the Lebanese woman.

“In the Holy Land, there had been the very modest, very feminine Arabian women-and there was this sudden contrast of the half-French, half-Arab Lebanese women who projected in their dress and street manners more liberty, more boldness. I saw clearly the obvious European influence upon the Lebanese culture.”

In the 60’s, the French mandate influence was still strong, the French language, I believe, must have been spoken much more than today. Malcolm X is right, Lebanon culture has clearly an European influence. His views were though restrained because he had only visited Beirut. The capital must have had much more European influence than all the other provinces of Lebanon.

He then continues with thoughts on moral strength.

“It showed me how any country’s moral strength, or its moral weakness, is quickly measurable by the street attire and attitude of its women-especially its oung women. Wherever the spiritual values have been submerged, if not destroyed, by an emphasis upon the material things, invariably, the women reflect it.” He then makes an analogy with America’s women. ” Witness the women, both young and old, in America-where scarily any moral values are left. There seems in most countries to be either one extreme or the other. Truly a paradise could exist wherever material progress and spiritual values could be properly balanced.”

Malcolm X might have judged fast Lebanon’s moral strength by only its women. These are his thoughts, and one can even argue with Malcolm X, a great man. He was certainly right about “the boldness” of the Lebanese women of Beirut compared to other Arab countries. I’m a bit disappointed about how he remembered Beirut, (but that’s just because I’m Lebanese.)

Malcolm X on Lebanese woman and his speech at AUB.

Though how he remembered AUB comforted me.

He recalled very well his speech at AUB for two reasons. First, he heard later “with astonishment” that the American press accused his speech of causing a riot in Beirut.

“What kind of a riot” he asked rhetorically, “I don’t know how any reporter, in good conscience, could have cabled that across the ocean. The Beirut Daily Star front-page report of my speech mentioned no “riot”-because there was none.” (Thank you the Daily Star for truthful reporting).

The second reason is that he was touched by the reactions of students of African heritage. “When I was done, the African students all but besieged me for autographs; some of them even hugged me. Never have even American Negro audiences accepted me as I have been accepted time and again by the less inhibited, more down-to-earth Africans. “

Malcolm X was murdered in 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam, his old religious movement. He was excommunicated from it.