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.

 

 

The Lebanese civil war 41 years later.

This is not a post to try to explain the Lebanese Civil War, but to remember, and to eventually move on.

We must remember the absurdity of war, death, destruction, and the subsequent Nihilism. We must take a look at our past and be shocked by the amount of nonsense that this country has witnessed over 15 years, and is still witnessing. The war can’t be clearly explained, lines could follow, the Palestinian question can enter the scheme, Syria, Saudi Arabia, France, the Murabitoun, the Christian extreme-right, the nationalism, fascism, extremism. We must remember Israel and its rain of bombs.

We must remember their faces, Geagea, Pierre, Bachir and Amine Gemayel, Nabih Berri, Hassan Nasrallah, Kamal and Walid Jumblatt, Camille and Dany Chamoun, Yasser Arafat, we must save their faces and paste their images into our heads. These are the faces we should look at with not only anger and indignation, but pity, and a strong wish for fair justice.

We must not try to explain too much the war, but we must analyse what has kept the war lords of yesterday as our politicians today. We must look at the Taef agreement and spit on it. We must deeply think and explain their tools to stay in power: neoliberalism, despotism, clientelism, and of course, the sectarian system, the use of religion, God, and finally, identitarian politics. The use of the identities to rule over one own identity and to fight with others.

Most importantly, we must completly reject and fight the Lebanese identity to explain our so-called importance regarding the Syrian refugees or Palestinian refugees, or really, everyone and everything non-Lebanese. This is racism and lead to apparently innocent statements as: “Lebanese have more rights to fair pay and fair jobs than the Syrian refugees, it’s our country” This statement could be easily transformed into “The Lebanese state can’t allow other Lebanese or non-Lebanese to mock our symbols, the Cedar, the flag, the national anthem”. And that already exists by law. Palestinians and Syrians often laugh on this, saying they have less rights than the Lebanese flag, which is true.

We must fight and stop everyone talking in the name of their sect, as if he was designated to be their spokesperson . “Nahna l shi3a, nahna l sunna, nahna l massi7iye, nahna l druze”. “We the Shia, we the Sunna, we the Christians, we the Druze”. If you hear someone talking like this, just stop him. It’s easy, I do it. And of course, a so called political leader of the ruling class isn’t more representative of his sect. So reject them.

We must remember, and hope it won’t happen again. “Tenzakar w ma ten3ad”. We must remember the 17,000 disappeared, those are mostly forgotten. We must fight to retrieve them, or at least I fear, their bodies.

We won’t have a better Lebanon if we keep following those “leaders”, and if we don’t think about an alternative system, not only a secular one, but a socialist one, one that wouldn’t allow the oppressor and the oppressed game, one that would allow less differences between rich and poor (and eventually none?). Let’s reject the shallow and lazy statement that “It’s has always been like that”. No it hasn’t always been like that.

Finally, let’s not exclude the Syrian and Palestinian refugees from society, alienation won’t help anyone, and will also trigger more tensions between the different people of this country. We shall not feel kinder if we do, or even prouder, those politicians just need to be more humane, but they won’t, so let’s oust them.

“Ma nrabe7 7alna jmile” if we include Syrians, Palestinians, migrant workers, everything non-Lebanese, let’s not applaud ourselves. Let’s go beyond nationalities. It’s our role not to exlude them first. Let’s not be patronising about it.

 

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.