Disgust and Despair, or Yet Another Rant on Lebanon

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I used to write I wanted to go back to Lebanon, live there permanently and all that. I used to be so blinded by love for that country that I romanticized it to death, brushing over the bad aspects as if they were nothing.

Then I came back, and the romantic dream died. I still loved Lebanon though. A more honest love, perhaps, but it still had a special place in my heart.

But now I am done. Don’t get me wrong, many things I still love, many things still make my heart beat. I’ll probably never be over Beirut. How can one be over Beirut? But I digress.

I am, however, over the Lebanese political elite. I am tired of screaming arraftouna. I am tired of sending letters and tweets and marching and yelling and advocating for change while it is very clear that the political class couldn’t give two fucks about what it is we’re asking for. I’m tired of being disgusted to the core by the aggressive corruption, I’m tired of begging for rights that are rightfully mine, I am tired of consultations, meetings, discussions, projects funded by organisations and countries with their own agendas and their own priorities, who really, actually, don’t really give two fucks either about what it is you’re asking for. I am tired of pretending something can be done in the current system we’re in.

I am tired of pretending we’re not at war when Tripoli is counting its dead, and has been for a while. I am tired of looking at discrimination in the face every day I spend in Lebanon and not knowing where to start to eradicate it. I am tired of being considered by law and by society as a second class citizen who should stay at home to raise children born within wedlock, a religious wedlock if you please. I am tired of the mind-numbing hypocrisy of the religious, the politician and business classes alike, all united to stomp on equality, justice and freedom.

The truth is my heart is aching with the mothers still looking for their children decades after they have been abducted or disappeared during the war, the truth is I can’t stand that my friends need two jobs just to barely make ends meet while they have degrees and experience whereas a family name can open the doors of heaven to others.

I’m tired of Lebanon. Because this is Lebanon, whether we like it or not. Today Lebanon is a country where abused women have no law protecting them, where women can’t pass on their citizenship to their family, where rape is legal if the rapist marries you, where maternity leave is so short and childcare so expensive you’re virtually left with no choice but to drop your kids at your mothers and take a job that finishes at 2. If you’re lucky. Today Lebanon is a Parliament giving itself the authority to extend its own mandate, today Lebanon is a country where political lines are drawn according to sectarian allegiances, where so called parties are nothing more than families repeating the same lies for decades. Today Lebanon is a country where you can’t even get a civil marriage, where modern slavery is seen as a normal part of every day life, as if there were nothing wrong in putting a human being under the authority and responsibility of another. Today Lebanon is a country where the vast majority of the workforce is unaccounted for, informal, where social security is a Graal only the lucky can get. Today Lebanon is a country where all woes are blamed on the Other, the refugee, the member of a different sect, the poor, without ever looking within to see the rot.

This is the Lebanon our political and administrative sectarian system gave us. Do you like it? Is there anything to be proud of?

Now is the time for radical action, for general strikes and paralyzing actions of the system. Now is the time to strike back, to name and shame, to stop voting, to stage constant protest.

The time for compromise and participation has gone, and we’re only left with confrontation. It is our only hope.

This Morning, I woke up in Lebanon

“We Will Never Learn” – Picture by @Z_iad of the devastation caused by this morning clashes. No amount of words can speak more loudly. 

I woke up this morning cursing. Tfeh! Wou Tfeh! Shi be arref! 

I woke up this morning in Lebanon.

When my friend asked me how come I could stuff my face with jelly beans while the country was burning, and what I was on, I soberly answered, denial. 

I was happy in my little chemical bubble of jelly beans, keeping the fear and the anger at bay, utterly resisting the urge to wildly scream: FOR FUCK’S SAKE NOT FUCKING AGAIN. 

Alas, I did it this morning, after 3 people had died on Tarik el Jdide, after dozens of people had died in Tripoli, after the acrid smell of burning tyres had mixed with the coconut oil of the happy beach goers. The heavy fighting come after the arrest of a Salafist, Shadi Mawlawi, and the shooting, yesterday, of a Cheikh and his bodyguards by the Lebanese Army (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/May-21/174096-lebanon-boils-after-sheikh-killing.ashx#axzz1vQw6bTjG). The institution said it would open a thorough investigation to elucidate the conditions of the shooting. 

Now I get perfectly that some certain gentlemen strive on war: they can revel in their warlord glory again, something they had been missing since 1990, they can play God with their followers, they can distribute arms and death at their will. 

Sectarianism is a system designed, custom-made for war: it absolves the state of all its important duties, such as respecting, protecting and fulfilling the Human Rights of its people, yet it creates ties and loyalties that ensure the perpetuation of family dynasties who control communities and infiltrate every aspect of political, administrative and social life. The ruling elite benefits from it, the collaborators benefit from it, the people quietly drown in that special corner I like to call “No One Gives a Shit”. It is not only because Tripoli is so close to Syria that it faces continuous unrest: it is first and foremost because it’s one of the most neglected city in Lebanon, at all levels, education-wise, socially and economically, and where public efforts have scarcely been made while weapons have gently poured over people’s heads and therefore sectarian groups have taken advantage and contributed to that situation. 

What makes me want to clutch my hair in despair is the so called calls of stability and calm issued by sectarian and religious leaders: they remind me of those pyromaniacs who set places ablaze then come back to the scene of their crimes, grinning. 

Well, maybe it is high time for us to stop bowing our heads to these corrupt, power hungry thugs and put our foot down: WE are the people, WE do not want war and WE will not be manipulated. Because we’re not stupid, and because loving one’s country, you idiotic baboons, doesn’t go through destroying it. 

Join us tonight at 06:00 PM for a candlelight in se7et el shohada. https://www.facebook.com/events/238605289582045/

Portrait: GiGi

Gigi’s short for Ginette, the horrendous name her parents gave her, after her grandmother. Ginette, I ask you, her parents must have really hated her. 

No, Gigi, was much better. It suited her long fake acrylic nails (Gigi had a very strict policy about her nails, as she repeatedly told her beautician, her cousin Roro (after Roro’s grandmother, Rindala): the longer, the better, with little studs design and flowers and butterflies to match), her wild hair dyed three and a half different colours, her fake eyebrows and tatooed lips. 

Gigi’s an administrative officer in a medium size office and absolutely loves it. Hidden behind her computer, she can huff and puff and moan and complain that she’s too busy for words, overworked, that these people don’t know  the extreme chance they have that she’s deigning to work for them. 

Gigi’s an expert in looking busy, you see, there are some rules you’d have to follow. First of all, always come early: it’ll impress everyone and you can use this to leave the office even earlier. The fact that you have to get up for your kids anyway and that you take the time in the morning to drink coffee with the natour is completely irrelevant. 

Secondly, keep sighing loudly and tapping on your computer while screaming Ya Allah! everytime anyone dares to make your phone ring and bark a grumpy eh? shou fi? as if the poor person on the line had interrupted you while you were negotiating peace in Kashmeer. It’ll put a deep impression on people who will susbequently avoid calling you. Or making eye contact, for that matters. 

Thirdly, and that is the most important thing: keep telling people about how busy you are. It’ll make them think twice about giving you any more tasks, because you’re so busy you see, that you absolutely can’t be asked to do anymore things. 

Then, when you’re absolutely sure no one will dare to come and ask you to actually work, you can chat on MSN and Skype with your friends and family. 

Gigi loves her job, not only because she mastered the three aformentionned rules so well, but also because it is strategically positionned. When she started, they wanted to put her in that sad little corner, with the little intern who seemed so intent on doing well she’d do absolutely anything Gigi asked her to. Gigi almost threw a fit, and explained at great length to the manager that that chair didn’t suit her back problems, that the computer facing the wall would do nothing good to her claustrophobia, that sharing an office would cause germs to spread and did he know she had a particularly weak immune system? Did these people wanted her to die? The manager hence gave her the lovely desk just at the entrance of the office just to make her shut up (and also, because he was a little scared Gigi would actually fall ill just to prove a point)

From her privileged standpoint, Gigi can see the comings and goings of the office: there was this little young woman who seemed far too self assured for her own good, Estez Mostapha who comes to run her errands 20 times a day. There is also her pal Fifi, with whom she has great political conversations: “Now habibi, I’m not saying anything, we’ve always lived in harmony with them (them, referring to the other religious sect she’s currently criticising), mish ta3assob heyda, bas they’re everywhere and they’re not ashamed! Enno, I don’t get gasoline from my car from them, I go to the son of our neighbours, mish ta3assob I promise but they need to learn their place!”. Gigi also enjoys commenting on society’s declining moral standards: “That guy I interviewed! I’m sure he was gay! I mean, can you imagine a tobji working for us?” 

Alas! Gigi spoke too loud one time, and came one day to find her desk cleaned, a proper dismissal note stuck slap bang in the middle of her now bare table: From your tobji boss, with love. 

Ps: I hated your nails anyway.