Thursday, June 01, 2006

I am confounded!

My dear Hizbo-Lala supporters,

Last night you all took to the streets to express your outrage because an LBC show poked fun at your revered leader. You blocked streets and highways. You burnt tires. You yelled your hearts out. And, you fired your weapons into the sky (FYI, those bullets obey the laws of gravity too!).

I am confused. What exactly is Hassan Nasrallah to you? Is he your holy, sacred and revered spiritual leader? Or is he your political representative in a relatively democratic and plural political system? Oh yeah... you don't need to answer those questions; I know: he has the privilege of being both.

Well let me convey the following to you: Hassan Nasrallah the politician is, in my book, subject to the same treatment afforded to Lahoud, Hariri, Franjieh, Aoun, Jumblatt and the rest of the clique!

I do not see Hassan Nasrallah as my spiritual leader. I see him as a politician - pure and simple: A Politician. I did not force him to become one. He chose that path, and just as a soldier must reconcile himself with death every day he is on the battle field, a politician (and his or her supporters) must reconcile themselves criticism.

I do not see Nasrallah as holy. He is not “muqaddas.” Your attempt to force that aspect of Nasrallah onto me smacks of tyranny, intimidation, bullying and everything that can go wrong in a democratic and plural environment. In the final analysis, if you want your “holy men” to represent you in the political system, I cannot do anything to stop you. You, on the other hand, need to accept the baggage that comes along with politics.


Anonymous said...

Great post Raja. how's the hangover?


Omega80 said...

Well said, however, it is my belief that what happened last night is not isolated but rather is linked to many things that have been going on in Lebanon recently.

Hassan said...

To quote a friend of mine, "fucking idiots"...This is about as bad as the Feb.5 riots in Ashrafieh.

Ok. I think this whole media thing is blown out of proportion. On the other hand, what would happen if anyone mocked late prime minister Hariri?

Hassan said...

Raja, are you sure about the shots fired? I only found a vague mention of it in Mustaqbal, while Safir said that the security forces shot the rounds. Nahar's first page article doesn't mention anything about it.

Anonymous said...

That is the problem, Raja. The equivalent of Nasrallah to his supporters is not, say, Jumblat, Lahhoud, etc... But Samir Gaegae and Batrak Sfier put into one. I do not recall Basmat Watan ever poking fun at Sfier because it would be inappropriate. If someone recalls otherwise, let me know. I would be interested.

My point is this dual aspect of our democracy (the secular and religious authorities) is not specifically a Hizballah problem, but it does become problematic when the two are represented by one person.

frencheagle said...

first remark:

yesterday was a spontaneous reaction, contrary to the one of the 5th fev that was on purpose.
It could have been worst then the one of 5th because of this spontaneous character while the 5th of feb was avoidable.

the violence cannot be in any way justified.

second remark:

we have to notice that the LBCI has a large audience in west beirut thx for their blondes chicks with a large decolleté ;)

Doha said...


basmat watan used to make so much fun of Hariri. the show's director even went on future tv when Hariri passed away last year to specifically talk about how he made fun of Hariri, yet Hariri, in a position of a Prime Minister, never interfered.

Poking fun of a dead person is a different story and cannot be equated with making fun of Sayyid Nasrallah.

Abu Kais said...

Frenchie: What the hell is your "second remark" supposed to mean? West Beirutis like LBC because of the "blondes chicks with a large decolleté"? What do you think people in "West Beirut" are like? Leave it to you to make bigoted and ignorant remarks.

Anonymous said...

Doha i disagree,
In my book poking fun at dead people and religious figures is not a different story, they are both contrivertial and offending because of the sanctity of death or the sanctity religion.

Personnaly I have no problem with making fun of Hassan Nasrallah or "Mar" Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir or Shaheed Rafic Hariri.
Bad taste and free speech are different issues. (unless the law says something which I am not aware of)

But saying it is OK to make fun of hassan nasrallah but not shaheed raffic, or it is OK to make fun of hassan nasrallah but not batrak Sfeir, is imo, very misguided.

Bravo for Harir for not interfering while he was alive, but that should be the norm and not the exception.


Raja said...


I was incapacitated for half of the day yesterday!


thanks for pointing the inaccuracy out. I checked the reporting again today morning, and I found no reference to gun shots.

Hassan, Doha, TAC,

Hariri was insulted very vigurously after he died. Remember some of Aoun's speeches? He was described as a lot of things, which although may have been true, were nevertheless jabs at his legacy. Aoun had every right to say what he wanted to say, but I just wanted to point out that, yes, the "sanctity of death" was violated in the case of Hariri.

Doha said...


I'm surprised at how you still use old terms: West Beirut.

frencheagle said...


you are the hezbollah of this web site since you are not having that sense of humour that also lacks to the hezbollah, not appreciating the joke
everyone of us know that the LBCI is not appreciated for the quality of their programs but more by the speakrines in the arab world.
you are sharing this kind of lack of humour with the people that manifestated yesterday

how do you want to call this part of beirut?
tell me the new terms, i dont know them

Doha said...


We all know what you meant by West Beirut. C'mon! In West Beirut, people are barbaric and watch TV in order to get a glimpse of blond chicks. So that statement is NOT about geography, Frencheagle. We're not retards here on this blog.

Hassan, Raja,

In Al-Mustaqbal daily, it says that there were gunshots, but again, as Hassan said, we don't know if it's HA's supporters or the ISF.

frencheagle said...


first of all something that no body talked about yesterday, the LBCI made a statement which is interesting concerning the medias:
they declared their independance from the LF movement.

now to come back on the discusted subject, i remember an old article in the economist (i think in 2004 or 2003, you can check it it was an article about the rights of women in the middle east and in the body of that article they were talking about the lebanese speakrines especially and about the LBCI) through their media channels one or 2 years ago, how the lebanese gorgious speakrines were improving the image of lebanon throughout the Mena and how it is attracting the regional inbound tourism inside lebanon, and my remark comes under the same humouristic sense that this article.
however it s a sad reality, the image that the lebanese girl is projecting abroad through the media is very bad and the feminism movement must fight this kind of advertisement.

besides all that, i used to know few people working for LBCI, and previously for the MTV, girls especially that were reporting some behaviour inside that group that were not very ethical. Being disgusted, they left

so u still didnt tell me how to call west beirut in the new way ?

after some time of reflection, i have to say that this dicotimie btw west and east beirut is unfortunaly an actual division of this city but also a chance of reunification 16 years after the end of the war.
if you have a new name, it means that the division is done,
if you are dividing under east and west, it means that the division can be fighted. moreover this dicotomy was as well existing before the civil war of 1975.

however another thought came to my mind, do we have mixed areas in beirut? we still have a a religious or communautaristic division that prevail Beirut.

another remark.
the 5 of feb, the problems occured in ashrafieh, this time they didnt cross the old green line, sodeco- monnot areas

another remark as well
yesterday's events could have been worst, it was spontaneous events whereas the 5 of feb were premeditated problems.
yesterday it was controled, the 5 of feb the autorities didnt have any control. on one side the autorities failed and were passive complices, on the other side it prooved that they can act to limit the devastation of ashrafieh.

a last remark concerning samy gemayel statement: "9 months ago we shut our mounth"
9 months ago, his dad's allies (amine) were the one that devastated ashrafieh
9 months ago he should have been acting to prevent what could have been done yesterday

Doha said...


Maybe instead of saying west beirut or east beirut, we should start calling neighborhoods by their name. east beirut is a large area and so is west beirut. plus these terms invoke the civil war era.

You have ras beirut, but also dahyeh, in west beirut. The two areas are different. plus, there are some areas in west beirut that are mixed: ras beirut. AUB is the best melting pot I can think of; I lived there fore four years and met and made great friends with people I wouldn't have dreamt of meeting if I was in the north.

Plus, i think also we can safely say that poeple in east beirut watch lbc because of the blond chicks. Men are men, the same everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I was disagreeing with Doha who said "Poking fun of a dead person is a different story" as if she was implying it was ok to make fun of hassan nasrallah but not of a dead person. I too am in the camp that says nothing is too sacred for comedy :-) (even if some things are unfortunately illegal to make fun of)

I think the problem with your statement was not that you said "west beirut" but that it sounded as if you are saying only the people in west beirut like LBC for the "blondes chicks with a large decolleté".
When in fact i think you meant "It seems the 'virtuous' hizballah people who condemn scantly clad blonde women on TV enjoy watching them as much as the decadent pseudo western wannabees who produce those shows" , If I got your point correctly.

No doubt my sarcastic interpretation will produce as much flames but it is all OK in the name of free speech :-)


Anonymous said...

I stand corrected, I seems the problem was that you said "west beirut" :-)


frenchbeagle said...

@ doha

I apologise for arguing ad naseum... you are right, I have no clue what I am talking about

@ kais

i sometimes ask myself why i wake up every morning thinking about you. is it because your website blows away my crap MSN spaces excuse of a site? perhaps your english skills overshadow my pathetic attempt to articulate anything. whatever it may be, i am sorry for being such a prick all the time.

@ the rest of the world

my opinions are generally useless, so take them with a grain of salt. actually make it a whole shaker of salt.

frencheagle said...

i was pretty sure that aounopolis was frenchbeagle and kais suffering from a multiple personality disease.
it seems it is just the confirmation that a severe cure must be indeed done in such cases ;)
indeed i was having a blog on blogspot in 2003 and a weblog in 1999 but trust me msn space is much more friendly user and advanced then current blog. and besides that typepad is having huge security wholes allowing many thing to be done when we have the will to do so.
But i m quite happy:
this person is never able to answer to arguments but just to answer through insults or ironics statement that he is the only one to find funny.
the critics are acceptable when they are constructive. it is never the case

so i ll answer to the remaining

first of all Doha
my point about west Beirut was grosso modo the border btw west beirut and east beirut
yesterday's fights were contained to the sodeco, monnot, tarik jdidé, therefore to a part of the old green line, contrary to what happened last time, the 5th of feb when it was the heart of ashrafieh.

i didnt talk about the green line as far there are theses souvenirs you were blaming for, but i talked about west beirut as a global part of beirut.
I hope it s clear now.

tac, you were right this is what i was meaning.
it seems indeed since some people blaming me for this joke more "vertuous" then the hezbollah's folks, especially thinking about kais-anounopoly-frenchbeagle's multiple personality.
or just laking of the same humour then those that manifestated yesterday

Anonymous said...

Flying Frenchman,

You are making some very important points here, and that's exactly why you are being attacked. Ignorant people dwell in the darkness, and you my friend are a "shab lamba". Not sure why they are focusing on the meaningless details of East and West Beirut rather than basking in the deep content of your statements that you discusted so eloquently.

For example, you are right about the speakriness, especially the lebanese gorgious speakrines how it is attracting the regional inbound tourism inside our lover lebanon.

Frencheagle, I do share your humouristic sense, and hope that you will keep posting.

Onwards and upwards.


LebaneseYankee said...

So it came down to this. LBC News or “humor” which is a Lebanese replica of Walid Fares’ “fair and balance” Fox News channel.

So what is new in the news about Lebanese “democracy”? Don’t we all know that each TV, radio station, newspaper, blogs,website or a satellite channel that associate with Lebanon or Lebanese locally or abroad are all forms of hate and bigotry? Aren’t all Lebanese, past and present, watched, heard and read all those outlets to conclude that they are jamming our minds and the airwaves to blow on the sectarian winds for narrow political agendas—and humors? Humor is fun, isn’t? Also it makes other laugh at us. Especially when it further widen the sectarian strife, attract local and “foreign viewers” for more intervention in our “beloved” country’s affairs? How many among us do not associate themselves with a particular newspapers or a news channel that bombard and darken our minds with its selective-pick and choose humor and news coverage? But wait a minute here? Isn’t democracy is about transparency, free press, “constructive humors” and bringing politicians and “religious figures”, Seyad or not, Cardinals or not, to their knees and holding them accountable for any misdeed or action? Isn’t the Lebanese version of democracy in which we are so confounded by, always remind us of our religious attachment, sectarian pride, our un-civil war and long lasting dismantled identities, foreign loyalties and our fragmented political institutions. How this is possibly so?

Isn’t after all our national anthem begins with “All for the Nation”? What about other nations? Aren’t we, Lebanese, see patriotic dreams in our sleep and wish the dawn never rises so we can experience one and a free lasting-sensual patriotic moment? Who is among us dares to wake up to our self inflicted hallucination of our reality and conflicted maladies, bitterness, friction, our artificial entity and our rivalry; our manufactured myth of “schizophrenic” Lebanese identity and the qualitative nature that goes beyond our Phoenicians “ancestors”? Isn’t our “flag” that is unite us, the white, the red and the green, and other invisible odious colors in which our “national tree” poisonously dying in its dead center. We never realize how dangerous reality is, and how far we often look into our past to reach for our miseries to help us conquer our dreadful future. Our history is reoccurring and incarnating itself and we live in the shadow of our past but yet fear to confront it.

Fifteen years of war and killing is a lesson that keeps haunting some of us as a fresh memory, and over what? Who was responsible? We Lebanese are understandably still resentfully referring to our uncivil war as “the war of others.” That may be true, yet we never realize that our bitter family feud and asking for help from outsiders to claim the prize of power are also responsible. We allowed this to happen. We, with a ruthless efficiency, allowed “traders” from many parts of the world to participate in a widespread destruction of our country and also to trade our lives for the sake of others. The political gain and the stake for us and many who were involved were high, and therefore justified killing became a hot commodity. The spoils and the “stocks” of war were dealt at steep “skyrocketing” price. Local and foreign “bidders” were many. In return for “dividends”, arms and protections, Lebanese themselves were participants in the war and “executed” orders for neighboring and external bloodthirsty “investors” in an open “bloody market”. Soon after “Lebanon Lives Exchange” was lunched, and fully operated and regulated through international power “brokers” whom savagely fueled our madness. Yet, sixteen years following the end of our bloodshed, our future is seeing through our confessional orientation, as much it is seeing through our bias and humorous TV screens, newspapers and radio stations. Lebanon itself is crippled and still lacks every viable characteristic of being a unified nation. Our irreconcilable legacy as people of one nation keeps reviving and haunting us, but as of yesterday some of us dubiously deflected all what we are suffering by a single act of a “humor”!

Free speech, sure. To the proponents; put your highest religious figure in which I’m sure he is political to the bone, since all are, and see if you find such act is entertaining. You’ll realize that a red line has been crossed. Pity, isn’t how Lebanese formula works? Eye for an eye! Pity again!

Responsible NO, fair and balance, NO, not in Lebanon.

frencheagle said...

FGA, couldnt say it better then you did :)

lebaneseyankee, 200% with you
i would even say that the lebanese population didnt realised that the war was over, the vessels of this period are still open since more then ever Lebanon is fragmented through sectarism and communautaristic divisions. the war is not over in their minds, the syrian presence during 15 years was maybe an anesthesic to our past divisions. as i was previously saying lebanon is not a country but countries, as long we are not able to unify all the componements of lebanon into one nation we will fail as your neighbours will profit of theses divisions to break the lebanese dream .... once again

last year, we failed, but we just lost a battle because of different mechanisms among which our secterian division of the political power reflecting the weaknesses of our society.

yesterday was a symptom of our failure, all what is happening since the 14 of march is a symptom of our failures.
i believed a 14 of march that lebanon would be a nation, i was disappointed by the divisions that happened during the electoral period, i was disppointed that we didnt manage to find new blood in our political college that were not corrupted by the civil war crime
we didnt manage to change anything, the seeds that leaded to the syrian manipulation of this country are still in place,

the syrians are not guilty of manipulating us, we allowed them to profit of our weakenesses to divide us. The seeds of the civil war were embeded into our country and we didnt manage to fight them but contrary to encourage them to grow.

my concern is to decrease today the impact of theses divisions on the political system in order to prevent this to happen again.
we have to do that not for us but for our childrens, we have to build a nation.

moreover, maybe the battle is today lost, as the symptoms of divisions are more then ever strong, with the 5th of feb events , with yesterday's events.

but the war to build a nation is not over.
we have to rethink about our political system. It failed? why ?
we have to deconfessionalise the positions of power, we have to conduct legislative elections really representing the population and not the sects, and i m sorry but boutros propositions are not enough, we have to reach a formula were each citizen would be equal and therefore where each circonscription would be represented by one deputy.
however this is not in the interest of some feodal leaders, or organisation such as hezbollah, amal or the future. let s come back to 1960's electoral law for exemple.

we have to build a strong state where each citizen would feel protected by the law and not by weapons, and a strong state means a strong executive able to handle hard decisions sometimes that would prevent foreign countries to intervene into the lebanese affairs.

what happened yesterday is once again the proove that today's system is a bankrupcy, a political bankrupcy

we are moving backward and not forward. we have to reach a country where politics are deconfezsionalised

Yankee said...

Why would you want the 1960's electoral law? Don't you think it reinforces the sectarian divisions since deputies under small districts are only elected across their religious line? Abolishing the political sectarian system is the sole solution for all Lebanon's maladies. First, however, civic education for the new generation is a must before any transformation taking place. Lebanon where a citizen can elects or vote for any public servants regardless of his/her religion, that is based only on credentials and qualifications. 1960's law is a very bad investment and does not carry these components. The 1960's law carry sectarian past and does not promote any ideals that can be invested in Lebanon's future and furthemore, it does not collectivelly serve the "Lebanese" people. We should not fear each other as Lebaese, fear comes only when we see ourselves through our narrow individual-political- sectarian's interest. In my view, for any future formula to succeed in gradually solving Lebanon's problem, abolishing the sectarian system must be it's highest priority and outmost concern.

LebaneseYankee said...

Sorry, my name got crossed out.


frencheagle said...

it is on contrary the electoral laws that ruled the legislative system after 1960 that encouraged confessionalism.
on contrary with a smaller circonscription, they vote for who they know, who they are feeling represented by, for someone like them and not for someone because he is christian or muslim or whatever.

if we got on a smaller scale, people are more homogeneous, therefore the confessionalism is not having a major impact on how they are voting, except on mixed areas.

on the other side, bigger circoncription, therefore more heterogeneous circonscription increases the impact of confessionalism and of the differences.

before 1960, our legislative system was mostly really democratic, and deconfessionalised

and you are totaly right about abolishing the political secterian system and you are totaly right with you say however that it needs time.

but on contrary to reach the goal we need the smaller circonscriptions and the law that provides this smaller circonscription process is the one of 1960 that of course needs to be adapted to the actual time.

the actual secterian system is in bankruptcy, no heterogeneous country succeeded to live without a strong executive.
we might think about yougoslavia, about rawda etc...

stig said...

this is all bullshit , fuck nassrala fuck every goddamn politician in Lebanon from muslims to christians to whatever religion there is , this country is heading towards another civil war , i Have been living in lebanon for 2 years now and I absoulotly hate it , rotten politics is what everybody's is talking about .from what I have been reading here It seems most of you guys have some sense but way to much interest and feeling about this fuckedup country, my advise. dont waste your time and stay another minute here, get your passports sorted out and LEAVE!!!!! ASAP.

acrobat said...

ahlak bya3erfo?

LebaneseYankee said...

Okay. I'm glad we agree on one thing. However, if you expand the argument further you'll realize again that 1960's law and the ones that followed do not help at all in bringing people together and strengthening their common good- by making Christians and Muslims “citizens” (as the word here implies) through large districts share the responsibility of electing their representatives to the parliament, again, regardless of who is running for election. People need to get used to that. Injecting this important and crucial value of citizen ( mowateeniya) in electoral law will gradually help diminishing the sectarian and confessional status quo. This in effect increases loyalty to the state than to kada’a, village, religion, and most importantly to elite politicians who are the principle opponents of any non-confessional law. Furthermore, considering Lebanon's demographic position and how each kada'a is segregated, never mind each village, town, or muhafaza, people are homogeneous, true, but across religion line! Is this what we want for our future generation to deal with, never mind wars!

NO. Action needed to be taken now. There must a starting point somewhere, otherwise the cycles of hatred, distrust, and suspicious will continue endlessly. The problem is that crocked politicians raise fear and use as usual sectarian language when speaking against any law that cut across their boundaries. Unfortunately, uninformed public follow that trend as well.

I understand that there is a fear of losing some representations among some Christians. Such fear exists from the idea that Christian deputies in some areas would be elected by Muslim voters, which is true. But when accountability exists, a Christian could run in a vastly dominated Muslim area and still wins. The opposite is also true for Muslims deputies. People in both sides who raise the issues of skewed representations might say that this will only happen in a perfect world. They are wrong, why? Because for a simple reason, is that any law that penetrates the confessional beliefs has never put to practice yet. Politicians need, but they never do because it is not in their interest, to reach out to each other and solidify their efforts to serve the people and to leave their personal interest aside for once-- so they can help ordinary people to demolish that thick wall of mistrusting each others. But politicians are not noble men, and what is more frustrating is that, Lebanese, with their all miseries rally behind them and cheer for them! It is like cheering and clapping for the villains while watching a horror movie! Strange for intelligent people that they yet to realize this horror! I feel chocks and awes when I hear Lebanese talking about their favorite politicians and his/her last quote! I wonder how many Lebanese read Khalil Jubran’s: “Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation”. Sadly, this persisting idiocy badly needed to be erased.

Democracy is a constant change system. Nothing is fixed in a democratic system. Yes, constitution might not change every day of the year, but the beauty of the “honest” legislators is that they can adopt new laws and modify existing ones that do not conflict with a flexible and modern-democratic constitution. It is an experiment that lay the foundation for future generation. It is joint efforts for peaceful solutions than war and dangerous daily bickering and “humor” that lead to unpleasant results and also humor. It is bringing new ideas that unite people rather than divide them. It is about investing in the future, not reaching back to the miserable past. It is about free will of the voters, than just offer them dubious electoral law or any law, and making beliefs it is the best we can do for the them and the country. For this to happen, people need to break the barriers of hatred and reconcile, and so what If someone chooses to vote for someone from a different religion! Isn’t what a pluralistic or democratic system or a diverse and cosmopolitan country is all about? Lebanese collectively must learn to forget about the past and demand from their “leaders” or whoever that might be the best for them and for their children. For this occur, the people should not remain idle, they need to take a stand and challenge their government for this to happen, not vise versa.

Now some people say hat the Taef is good for Lebanon. Yes it stopped the war, because the foreign powers have decided so, it wasn’t us. Okay, let us believe it is a starting point. What else has been done since then, absolutely nothing? Now, some might say that the Syrians prevented any change from taking place—that they dominated political institutions and manipulated the economic policy to serve their interests. True, they were the power broker and the decider like all occupiers do. But now the Syrians are out, the Israelis, except breaking the sound barriers now and then, are restrained from daring to cross the borders again. Yet, some people are deluded of the excessive foreign intervention in Lebanon’s affairs and admiring this more than ever before. And the story goes, if I’m correct, we need help, they are better than the Syrians, Iranians or Israelis! They’ll bring investment, prosperities, jobs, securities and protections! From whom! Haven’t we learned yet! Who are we asking for help? The “tender mother”, God blesses her efforts. Who else, the U.S.?!

Lebanese can come to reconciliation through their own efforts and Lebanon can build itself, only and only, by true internal efforts. The investment and economic prosperity will come when we show the rest of the world that we can walk on our own—that we are not anymore the creation or the illegitimate child of the foreign power.

The Taef at best erected a sectarian wall, a limit to how much improvement, innovation or adjustment that can be introduce to enhance our malignant political system, whether in people’s mind or on paper. Rather than decreasing confessional values, it increased them among people, even among the post war generation! It reinforced the same corrupt and clientelistic form of government that still allocates governmental jobs on the basis of a religious qualification and the invisible law of who you know--a patronage sectarian system at best as in most developing countries. Do I want my children and grandchildren to live in any country under such system? Rational person would say no, but sometimes I wonder about the rationality and morality among Lebanese from every religion. Put politicians aside, I believe most people in Lebanon want to live in a better and stable Lebanon. A new Lebanon where the presence of central political values coexist with the diversity of our social and religious values which enrich Lebanon experience with democracy as no other country in our brutal merciless region………………

Israel by the way is a Jewmocracy, not a democracy.


Tommy said...

I did not watch the controversial basmat watan episode. Anyone knows where we can download it?