This year, enjoy the Baalbek festival with a curfew against Syrian refugees.

Yesterday, Monday 11th of July 2016, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the governor of the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, Bashir Khodor, will enforce a new strengthened curfew for Syrians in the district, from 6PM to 6AM, instead of 8PM to 6AM. The governor said the curfew was to be strengthened during the Baalbek Festival, an annual and renowned festival held in the town. Few hours later, the governor denied it and said that the curfew will remain as it is. No official statement or paper show the reversal of the decision.

Racism in Lebanon isn’t a new story. For decades the Lebanese state institutional racism has limited and restricted the rights of Palestinian refugees, and it is now scapegoating the totality of Syrian refugees in Lebanon for so-called security. The curfew imposed on Syrians in Lebanon isn’t new, dozens of municipalities, as Aley, enforced it since 2013. But it is the first time that an entire muhafaza, or governorate, imposes a curfew.

The curfew was imposed after many suicide attacks targeted the small town of Qaa, which is close to the Syrian border. The police found out that the bombers of Syrian nationalities all came from Syria.

The restriction on movement is inhumane and unjustified, and it is reminiscent on the Zionist regime restriction on the movement of Palestinians. Artists who are performing this year in the festival must boycott the festival until an official statement from the governor lifts the tightening of the curfew.

Sign the following petition by clicking here.

Petition in full.

On Monday, July 11th, 2016, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported that the Baalbek-Hermel governorate will impose a curfew for Syrian refugees from 6 PM to 6 AM during the upcoming annual Baalbek International Festival, which takes place from Friday, July 22, 2016 until August, 28, 2016.

While Governor Bashir Khoder verbally denied extending the existing refugee curfew, no official statements have been passed by the Baalbek-Hermel governorate indicating that the NNA reported false news.

Many areas in East Lebanon have already imposed tight curfews on Syrian refugees, and more have been imposed after the recent attacks in the village of Al-Qaa, where 7 suicide attacks took place in late June, murdering 5 and wounding 28 others. While Governor Khoder and the Baalbek-Hermel governorate may consider the massacre in Al Qaa and recent threats around the country to be reference points, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces confirmed that the attackers were not refugees or among them; in fact, they came through the Lebanese-Syrian border.

This is a form of collective punishment and a racist policy to implement on people who are fleeing from such atrocities. We believe that these values do not reflect Baalbek International Festival and their performers.

Therefore, we call on the Baalbek-Hermel Governorate to release an official statement denying the curfews, or to reverse them.

We also call on the this year’s performers to cancel their performances unless these policies are lifted. This year’s performers are the following:

Caracalla Dance Theater – Saturday, July 23

Jean Michel Jarre – Saturday, July 30

Mika – Thursday, August 4

Bob James Quartet – Friday, August 12

Abeer Nehme – Friday, August 19

Lisa Simone – Sunday, August 21

Shereen Abdel Wahab – Friday, August 26

Jose Van Dam Meets Carlos Gardel – Sunday, August 28

We also call on ticket-holders and potential ticket-holders to stand on the side of human rights, justice, and dignity, and boycott Baalbek International Festival 2016 unless these unfair curfews stop taking place.

 

 

Malala celebrates her 18th birthday by inaugurating a school for refugees in Bekaa, Lebanon.

“Invest in books, not bullets” advocated Malala during her speech for the inauguration of a girls school in Bekaa, Lebanon. Malala is a Pakistani young adult, she won the Nobel peace prize in 2014, making her the youngest winner ever.

Lebanon has witnessed the huge influx of Syrian refugees since 2011. Days ago, UNHCR announced that the number of Syrian refugees attained 4 millions persons. Lebanon has today among its population about 1.2M refugees. It has also the highest ratio of refugees in the world, Lebanon has a population of 4 Millions.

Malala Yousafzai is today not only the symbolical young face of peace but she’s also a face of resistance against patriarchal societies.

The Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, not far from the Syrian inland, has today more than 400,000 of refugees. Roughly half of them are toddlers, children or teenagers.

A young Syrian girl in a refugee camp in Bekaa, Lebanon

The UN agency that managed the refugees, the UNHCR has very low funds to help those in need.

When Malala says “Invest in Books, not in Bullets” it may sound simplistic and symbolical. But she has all the reasons to claim that. Just 8 days of global military spending could fund 12 years of free, quality education for every child on the planet. A year of global military spending could fund roughly 547.2 years of free quality education! Picture the huge amount of money that goes towards war and destruction.

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The war in Syria, which is now in its 4th year, is depriving the young Syrians of school.  A single school brings much needed hope.

Dear Yohan storm, can you stop now ??

We Lebanese like to joke about the weather. But we woke up today and didn’t laugh.

Here are some apocalyptic pictures of the Cornish (or Manara),

I do not believe the previous storm has caused so much damage to the coastal sidewalk.

I want Yohan storm to stop not because of this material loss which is nothing (or the car washes we will have to make)

I want it to stop because it may kill actual persons. The previous storm (Zina) and the cold it brought killed too many, especially Syrian refugees that have nothing to warm up except multiple layer of clothes and mere tents. I wish the state could do more and grant the refugees better infrastructure like in Jordan.

Be thankful for having a roof over your heads people…

Racist Attacks in Lebanon.

Another day, another Lebanese racist attack and harass Syrians.

Why do some persons act this way ? Is it a kind of revenge following the long occupation of Syrian Army in Lebanon ? Is it just pure and simple racism ? Superiority complex ? Xenophobia ? Disrespect for human rights ? Is it because some Syrians belong to terrorist groups ? (Some Lebanese belong to the same group)

Why is there no government decision or declaration on this matter ? Human Rights Watch came up with a list of recent attacks against Syrians ( Refugees or not ), the harassment has become recurrent.

On Monday November 10th, three Syrians were attacked, a man threw a bucket of paint on them, shaming them in public.. they were barefoot.

Three Syrian men get attacked in Lebanon.

Is it the image we want to give to foreigners ? Arabs and Non-Arabs ?

The government must act and arrest these wrongdoers.

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Read the Article of Human Rights Watch : http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/30/lebanon-rising-violence-targets-syrian-refugees

Dear Syrian Refugees, Citizens, Brothers.

I am sincerely sorry if you have felt threatened, badly treated by some Lebanese citizens.

Yes, Racism is present in my country, and it is present in all of the countries of the world. The difference here is that racism may go unpunished by the law, sometimes applauded by watching citizens.

After Arsal incidents and beheading, some lost men released their anger and adrenaline onto you and made some of you fear for their lives, that fear you fled. This illegitimate anger is growing, and it is unfortunately not being stopped by the leaders of our country, and if it is, their voices is not really heard.

The racist behavior is deep down explainable, but will never be accepted by the majority of Lebanese citizens. There are many institutions here to help you and welcome you, to make you feel safe and at home as much as they could.

Many are proud of Lebanon different cultures, religions, origins, many are also proud to receive you.

The number of the Syrian refugees is a problem yes, their accommodations is the question, not expelling them. We don’t have any right to say :” they should return to their country, some towns are at peace”. “They” forget or close their eyes on the fact that the war is killing dozens every day. The moment the civil war is finished, and the moment the refugees that fear for their lives are welcomed back in Syria, they will return. Because no one runs away from his home.

Generalization is dangerous, if some Syrians are from terrorist groups, that doesn’t mean that one should be beaten and ashamed.

If some Lebanese are racists, that doesn’t mean all the Lebanese are racists.

I insist on the fact that this unpunished Racism is very dangerous, it could lead to the resentment of the Syrian refugees towards the Lebanese, again here a generalized response, an explainable one, not a legitimate one.

So, Dear Syrian citizens, don’t play this game, don’t allow yourselves to feel resentment, anger. All of this lead to extremism.

I advise all of us, Lebanese and Syrians, to feel and act responsibly to close this awful door of hate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discrimination Against Palestinians in Lebanon – Opinion

I have always felt that it is weird that one of our main political force in Lebanon is Pro-Palestine, and with the right of their Return, which is guaranteed by the fourth Geneva convention.  Yet Palestinians in Lebanon live in Ghettos, have zero access to good work, because they are…Palestinians. Why this restriction on Palestinians ? Why this constant conscious impoverishment by the Lebanese Authorities ? Why can’t they access to more than 70 professions ? Because they are…Palestinians.

Palestinian Labor force in Lebanon. Restricted Professions. Courtesy of Visualize Palestine

Here’s a sentence from an excellent Electronic Intifada article written by Moe Ali Nayel and with infographics by Visualizing Palestine .

Palestinians, alienated by the Lebanese political and official discourse, are treated either as a burden, a threat, or potential agents provocateurs plotting to ruin Lebanon from inside their sunless refugee camps.

This is sadly true. I have often heard that Palestinians are the cause of the civil war, that “they’re bad people” and provocateurs.

But are we keeping them in ghettos because they acted in the very complicated civil war ? Who did not fight in the Lebanese Civil War ? No one! But we are not confining this sect or this sect in a ghetto.

I have often heard that we are keeping them without jobs so that “they can’t get too much happy here so that they can return to Palestine”. I am deeply sure that Palestinians, if they had the possibility to return tomorrow, they would ! A good job here, or a decent life won’t make them stay,  it is very hypocrite to claim that. But maybe Lebanese people are comparing themselves to Palestinians. We have 12 Millions Lebanese living abroad, installed in many countries like in Brazil, and they won’t come back. But who wants to come back in a country like Lebanon ??

Armenians here in Lebanon, have their rights, nationalities, jobs.  Yet they are still engaged to Armenia, claiming their rights, like the recognition of the genocide. They speak their language, their culture is still attached to them. They live here, not because they don’t want to return to Armenia, because a lot of them can’t return because of poverty.  Yet there are Armenians, fully installed here, with jobs, good income, that go back to Armenia.

I can understand people that say, “if we give them nationalities, Israel will win, because they will claim that they have not the right to come back because Palestinians are attached to the Lebanese authorities, and they are now under the responsibility of Lebanon and only Lebanon and no more considered as real refugees”

Alright, let’s say no nationality, but no rights at all ?

Imagine yourself dear Lebanese people, Israel expels you out of the country, or force you to leave because of massacres and fear. You installed yourself in Syria ( which is not very good with the Palestinians refugees either ), after generations, you still cannot return to Lebanon, so what will you do instinctively ? Expand, have a good job and a good home, you will want to live with decency, with dignity. Not in a ghetto.

And please, tell me not that us Lebanese have enough problems to deal with others. I am not very proud that my state act shamefully with Arabs, people that asked for nothing expect dignity.

Me, young Lebanese adult, advice the Lebanon authorities to reform the laws against the freedom of profession for Palestinians in Lebanon. More jobs, more competition will do good for our bad economy.

And for our morality.

Palestinian Labor Force in Lebanon. Courtesy of Visualize Palestine