Protest against rape and rape culture in Beirut, Lebanon.

The 12th July 2016, a group gathered in front of the justice palace in Beirut to protest rape and rape culture in Lebanon. The protest was triggered by a rape case in the northern town Tripoli, Sunday, 3 boys alledegly raped a 16 years-old girl, the 3 suspects, are Khaled M. Houssam D. and Najib D.

Protest holding a sign: “Rape and marry for free!” The sign makes reference to the article 522 of the Lebanese Penal Code, allowing rapists to marry their victims, thus nullifying the rapist conviction.

Although a gynecologist confirmed that the girl in question was indeed raped, the coroner denied she was, he reports he found no marks on her body suggesting she has been raped. The girl, identified as Ibtisam M, reported to Al Jadeed TV that she has been raped by three boys over the course of three months, she was afraid to report her case to the police because she was blackmailed with pictures. The Daily Star reports:

“He took me to the apartment where he told me I’d be meeting his relatives, however I arrived and found no one there. He pulled out a knife and threatened to kill me if I didn’t sleep with him, and he said I had to sleep with his friends too,” she said, referring to one of the boys.

Lebanon rape apologism is institutional and “lawful”, the legal system will not prosecute a rapist and will cancel his conviction if the rapist marries his victim. [article 522 of the Lebanese Criminal code]. Article 503 and 504 also adds oppression to the victims of rape and do not consider marital rape (rape within a marriage) as rape.

 

NewsroomNomad, a blog that report and comment Lebanese news, adds that “Combating rape and sexual assault goes beyond just criminalizing and prosecuting it. It needs a societal change and an understanding of the attitudes that empower misogynistic traits and laws in the country. A society that can emphasize with a television series, [Fatmagül, a Turkish series about a woman blamed for her rape] but show little to no sympathy to a real victim is a society that is disengaged. 

“If women who are sexually harassed generally provoke harassment by the way they look, dress, and behave, why do kids get sexually harassed too?”

 

 

 

 

 

Beirut Marathon should have been cancelled.

Lebanon has witnessed a terrible garbage crisis for more than 3 months now, this marathon is a joke to all the people suffering from bad smell and toxic waste.

Dead rats have been piling up under garbage, attracting a major fly infection in Beirut, Achrafieh, reported the Daily Star. And yet the organisers and partners have the nerve to allow this event. The officials partner, such as the Beirut Municipality, should have stood against the marathon.

This marathon is a lie, a Public Relations stunt for this country, a way to say that Lebanon is a “normal” country, in a normal situation, when it’s absolutely not.

Voices criticising the marathon could be found online and from inside the marathon itself.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156296133340492&set=a.10151327029975492.829941.874055491&type=3&permPage=1

The campaign “Badna Nhassib” or “We want Accountability” used the slogan : “No one is faster than cholera”, warning of the deadly sickness that has been spreading in the Middle East, notably Iraq.

#ما_حدا_اسرع_من_الكوليرا#بدنا_نحاسب

Publiée par ‎بدنا نحاسب‎ sur Dimanche 8 novembre 2015

It’s a shame that the prime minister runs for cameras, for lies, when he accused the viral videos of garbage rivers to be fabricated. 

Lebanon: Video testimony of a brutalised and detained protester.

I filmed this video the 28th of August, before the huge mass demonstration of the 29th.

Nibal Abdel Khalek were brutally beaten and arrested for more than three days by the Lebanese police. His crime? He was passing near the police force. He was arrested around 11:30PM on the 23rd of August.

Dozens of protesters were treated like Nibal Abdel Khalek, brutalized by the state. It’s as if the authorities wanted to send a message to the protesters, to dissuade them.

Here’s what Nibal wrote on his facebook profile after his release.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who checked on me. I got arrested 4 days ago while protesting against the corruptions that are taking place in my country. I got attacked by the police and beat up badly. I was bleeding for two days in a small jail cell with no medical assistance. I was very mistreated. I had no access to my phone or my basic rights and was not allowed to contact any of my family members. I did not know if anyone knows where I am.

I got released last night. I want to thank every single person who tried to help getting me released.

I had two choices, either leave the country like many or stand up for my rights.

‪#‎youstink‬
‫#‏طلعت_ريحتكم‬
‫#‏مستمرون‬

11951807_10153203882542672_6804865588703001655_n

Here’s the video of his story. (I misspelled his name, it’s NIBAL, not Nidal).

Lebanon: You stink! The Tol3et Rihetkom movement story.

This have been first published the 1st of August in “Voices of the Middle East Blog” here. A blog held by Mariam Tuma. (Twitter: @mariamjxde)

Changes from the initial post will be in Italic.

“We’re in the midst of a political, environmental and social crisis in Lebanon. Allow me to begin with the most obvious and explicit issue; the garbage or waste management.

The issue is actually quite simple; Sukleen, the “privatized” company that manages the garbage and waste of Beirut and the Mount Lebanon province (Jabal Lebnen) have been dumping rubbish in a landfill in the Naameh countryside, south of Beirut. The landfill was due to close many years ago, in 2004! But the government kept postponing the deadline and Sukleen continued to fill the landfill well over its initial capacity. Weeks ago, the Naameh residents, decided that it was enough and that the landfill should be closed for real, and not have its deadline postponed again. In fact, they stopped Sukleen trucks the day of the legally contracted deadline, so technically, nothing illegal was done. On the contrary, they were merely enforcing the law.

The government knew about this deadline, they’re the ones who made the contract with the private (not so private) Sukleen company, but they’ve done absolutely nothing to prevent the current crisis. So, logically, Sukleen stopped collecting the garbage because it had nowhere to dump it. As a result, the narrow streets of Beirut were quickly drowning in rubbish, suffocating the already nonexistent side walks (Lebanon is not very pedestrian friendly).

First week of the garbage crisis. 

Thursday, while Beirut citizens were breathing hazardous waste, smoke and fumes (due to the burning of rubbish by angry civilians), the government was arguing over another political and sectarian crisis. They basically discussed that issue for ten minutes at the end of their meeting and decided to postpone the discussion about the rubbish issue and its solution to Tuesday. The people living of Beirut had to wait another 5 days covered in rubbish. The government acted as though it was the least of their worries. Some citizens decided they had enough and were tired of this, so they accordingly organised a protest centered around the slogan “طلعت ريحتكم”, basically translating to “Your Stench is Revealed” or “You Stink” the upcoming Saturday.

The movement had no political backing, was non-partisan and was based solely on the needs of the people. It had one simple demand: that the government do its job. But we didn’t want any new landfills that were dangerous for the people, we wanted a real solution; a green and environmental solution, one that we could be proud of. It was an anti-government protest, combined with a pro-green and environment aspect. We don’t want our waste to simply be dumped in the poorer areas of Lebanon.
The protest wasn’t huge, but its existence was highly important, it was truly representative of those living in Lebanon; Lebanese and foreigners alike. It showed that we were tired of the sectarian government, and its passivity over the simplest of issues. The garbage on the streets was quite frankly representative of the government. Their uselessness were represented in our streets.

That day we expressed our anger and frustration, which we have every right to do. The organizers of the protest also brought a green advocate and NGO president of T.E.R.R.E Liban, Paul Abi Rached, to explain how the government overlooked the issue and the solution him and dozens of other activists brought upon the last government. He also stressed about how easy the solution was and how reparation of garbage at the source were important. We immediately threw our plastic bottles in a bag and tissues in another bag; we began separating our rubbish. A change was happening in regards to our bad environmental habits.

Publiée par Levant Chronicles sur Samedi 25 juillet 2015

Shortly after, news came that the mayor of Beirut had “found” a “solution” regarding the garbage in Beirut, that it was ready to be taken out as soon as Sunday. We knew at the protest that it was a trap, we simply didn’t want any new landfills. Sukleen did remove the garbage the Sunday from some neighborhoods, but when they got near the new landfills, guess what? No body wanted Beirut’s garbage, and rightly so. The new landfills located near Jiyeh (between Saida and Beirut), were accepted by the mayor but not the people. The highway towards the Lebanese south was blocked for several hours Sunday and Monday to protest the matter. On Tuesday, well before dawn, Activists of “طلعت ريحتكم” followed Sukleen trucks and caught them dumping the garbage in the Beirut river! Landfills were suddenly appearing all over the country and people sent their pictures and videos to condemn the practice.

The government had unsurprisingly postponed the Tuesday meeting (mostly because they didn’t agree on their sectarian problems) but protesters were there, showing our non-partisanship, demanding again that the government do its job, we didn’t identify with the 8 March or the 14 March coalitions, in fact, we wanted them to leave. A lot of chants were present, chants that condemned Solidere, the company that killed Beirut heritage, tied to Hariri and therefore to Sukleen. Why were the upscale neighborhoods of Solidere clean when the other neighborhoods (with much more people) were still dirty?

We spontaneously blocked several roads toward the Martyrs Sqare and created a lot of congestion. Some people may criticize this and they have every right to do so, but the protests were peaceful, and it was to show the authorities that a few hundreds of people in Beirut can disturb the status quo. We don’t need a political “leader” behind us to block roads.

Publiée par Levant Chronicles sur Samedi 25 juillet 2015

We decided to march towards Hamra after a lively debate among ourselves, yes, some shouted at others, but the majority, after a vote, decided that marching to Hamra, and other parts of Beirut, was better than staying in the Downtown area. This was especially due to the fact that  not many people lived (besides basically the 1%). We truly demonstrated that we were a democratic movement. More democratic, at least, than the parliament that decided to extend their mandate twice, without asking the Lebanese people if they liked the decision or not!

And then, with that, another episode was unfolding; one that reveals the true coercive status of the Lebanese politicians. When we were marching towards the interior ministry and the ministry of the environment some protesters dared to attack what looked like a politician’s car. It was the car of Minister Derbas, the social affairs minister. The media is reducing the affair to 4 people; Bilal, Ihab, Tarek and Firas, however many more were involved by blocking the car and throwing rubbish on it. We were harmless, just angry. Tarek was arrested as a result. I don’t remember if Tarek were arrested on the spot, but his name was already circulating in the media just after the protest and the long march that led us back to Riad el Soloh. I left before Firas, Ihab and Bilal were arrested, much later in the night.

Publiée par Levant Chronicles sur Mercredi 29 juillet 2015

Quickly news emerged about how Tarek Mallah had already a judicial history with Minister Derbas, and the stories of Ihab and Bilal demonstrated this. They were arrested not only because they dared to touch a minister car, but were interrogated on Tarek. The story of Tarek is simple, he is an orphan who spent more than 13 years of his life in Dar el Fatwa orphanage, a Muslim organization. There he was raped and reported this. Minister Derbas overlooked the case. So as a result Tarek Mallah sponsored a case against Derbas legally, with no outcome.

What followed were two days of pressure. Bilal and Ihab were released Wednesday, Firas and Tarek Friday. Bilal and Ihab described how they were psychologically harassed by the anti-terrorism forces. They were forced to strip down in front of each other and were put in black masks as if they were some IS members. They were also put under pressure to denounce Tarek Mallah, clearly from orders of Derbas. This just proves how easy it is for any minister to use coercive force. Derbas is officially “independent” in the government. But that doesn’t make him any better than other coalitions minister.

Publiée par Levant Chronicles sur Mercredi 29 juillet 2015

We decided to reorganize ourselves and to plan something bigger. Our goal is to stop the plan that says Sukleen must be divided between different industrialists in the basis of sects. We want the government to at least care about the environment. Our group is representative of a large spectrum of ideologies; Marxists, leftists, liberals etc. We don’t have a single ideology that represents us but we have the same goal, that the government does its job regarding the environment and that it should be held responsible and transparent over the current crisis. We’re not unambitious, we’re just focusing our energy in the first step, and I hope, towards bigger goals.”

Saturday 8th August, tol3et rihetkom is protesting at the Martyrs Square, Downtown Beirut, 6PM. If you care about living in a green Lebanon, bring all the people you can and demand that the government do a proper job.

I am photographing the protests and making short videos. See pictures here and videos here

Video: #طلعت_ريحتكم Lebanon is drowning in garbage, thanks dawleh.

Yesterday people of conscience protested in the Downtown district of Beirut, near the government and the parliament. I was there to take pictures and videos but to also manifest my frustration and anger over the matter.

Downtown not only hosts the useless government, but it is also the symbol of Solidere, a company that renovated the district and destroyed its heritage. Solidere and Sukleen, the company that manages the garbage of Lebanon, are, let’s say, cousin companies managed by political businessmen. That’s what happens when you mix politics and personal interests.

Naameh landfill have been legitimately and lawfully closed by protesters theJuly 17th, the contract with Sukleen were expired but the government of Lebanon didn’t find any alternative before the deadline (or forgot to search for one over other political matters).. The government did decide on something last Thursday, in the midst of the crisis, they decided to postpone the decision over the matter to next Tuesday (great job people).

Finding another landfill won’t solve the issue, though many think it’s the problem. Nobody wants a dangerous landfill near their towns and villages, and the so-called solutions have already angered the people affected to it.

A solution have already been submitted to the government by a group of green activists 1 year and a half ago. Let Paul Abi Rached, president of T.E.R.R.E Liban environment NGO explains it to you. (Video in Arabic)

Here’s the little montage of the protest I’ve made and the pictures I’ve taken.

https://www.facebook.com/youngLBadult/timeline/story?ut=43&wstart=0&wend=1438412399&hash=3316044101416312842&pagefilter=3

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.

Photos: Cloud iridescence phenomenon above Beirut.

What a magnificent thing to see.

Maybe you have seen it and wondered what a rainbow that high in the sky was doing. It’s not a rainbow, and it’s neither a rainbow cloud. It’s a phenomenon called “Cloud Iridescence” than happens in different types of high altitude clouds. Let Wikipedia super contributors explain it to you.

If parts of clouds have small droplets or crystals of similar size, their cumulative effect is seen as colors. The cloud must be optically thin, so that most rays encounter only a single droplet. Iridescence is therefore mostly seen at cloud edges or in semi-transparent clouds, and newly forming clouds produce the brightest and most colorful iridescence.

The cloud in question is (I believe) a Cirrus Cloud.

This is a rare phenomenon. Enjoy the pictures. IMG_0270 IMG_0273

Why Removing Political slogans is a strong step towards normality.

The talks between major political parties Hezbollah (Party of God) and the Mustaqbal party (Futur Party) have brought to the table the political slogans. They both decided to remove them and it was reported that Hezbollah removed slogans in Saida and Mustaqbal removed slogans in Tripoli.

Once as I was leaving my building I noticed multiple new political flags hung every 5 meters under the building. I was outraged because the building wasn’t a political bureau. It was a building where civilians, not politicians, lived.

The moment a political party (or supporters) put flags and slogans in public places it means one thing : This is my territory and here lives my supporters. 

The moment political parties put flags everywhere, they transform into militias (symbolically or not), the neighbourhoods transform into supposedly strongholds even when they are mostly habited by politically inactive civilians.

Worse, during periods of turmoil and tensions, those flags and slogans become the indicator for “enemies groups” : alias this neighbourhood belongs to this party, so it is a legitimate target. They also become the indicator of “victories” : removing a flag and putting a new one.

in the following years of the 2006 War and the very tensed period between Hezbollah and Mustaqbal (or March 14 and March 8) the Lebanese flag became the symbol of March 14 really, as a response to Hezbollah flags. This road was dangerous because it was a symbol of state separation. “We have the Lebanese state flag and you have your”Hezbollah land flag “.

Beirut Governor Ziad Chebib oversees the removal of political posters in the neighborhood of Hay al-Lija – Daily Star courtesy.

Political flags should only be put where they belong : on officially recognised political bureaus. 

Maybe this step will bring Lebanese citizens closer, and with time, we will not have to think when being in a neighbourhood that : “This belongs to that political party, “they” are against “us” so I better get out of here”

PS : the flags under my building were removed.

Is the Taxi-Service reliable ?

Have you ever been expelled out of a service because other customers where able to pay more or because their destinations were relatively closer to your destination ? I have, and several times I’ve been left out in a street I don’t even know. You also have some drivers that will tell you “I will drop you here because It’s not my way even if you didn’t arrive yet at your destination but hey gimme your money”

A Lebanese taxi.   From This is Beirut Blog

1)Services have too much bargaining power.

They could expel you, decide whether to take you, bargain a price, and put ten other customers in the taxi when the car just allows 4 or 5 passengers. Consequently some customers will “choose” their services. “No I don’t get in this car”, Urgh, too much passengers”. This will considerably slow the transport.

Oh and have you ever been cheated on ? I have.
Me : “Look khaye we made the deal right ?” Driver : “No I want more because you made me go in this neighborhood and there’s a lot of traffic and I need money for gas”

Also, you could wait and wait and wait for a service to pass by and get rejected while you are losing precious minutes.

The drivers have too much bargaining power, some could use this and arrange or cheat with a price. It’s also because there’s not really a  clear prices to arrive at your destination. I am not stereotyping  the drivers or generalizing them, but I believe these stories are frequent among passengers.

2) The constant drop/entry of passengers.

Services, because they can get more than one person, will constantly and suddenly change lanes to get newcomers, sometimes they will talk and bargain a price, and you are miserably waiting for them to finish their chats, slowing all the traffic behind them. With a price based on distance, there would be no time to bargain, just get in the car, and announce your destination.

3) You can’t go far with a Service.

A service will never take you from A to B if B is too far. You will have to bargain a huge price but first you have to find an empty service (or break the hearts of passengers that get expelled) Good luck with that.

There are some benefits in the service system…

More passengers means less pollution ; if every citizen needed a cab to get moving, more cars are needed or more movement, so more pollution. But this is manageable by sharing cabs.

Fixed prices : with only 2000 L.L you can get very far if you are lucky. But sometimes it’s just not enough.

 

I believe it’s time to install honest counter in every service, with fair prices for both of the driver and the customer. This will empower the common citizen and the use of public transports could grow.
And if it’s too complicated, it is time to ameliorate this system and find a common ground for both of the frustrated parties.