I received this ad in my inbox (i.e. spam) and its weirdness (“archeological” digging AND a make-over?) led me to check out their page on Facebook.
First of all they say on Facebook that this “Just for Boys” workshop also welcomes girls. Well then why call it “just for boys”?
More importantly, they claim to be an “edutainment center for teens and tweens where your brain is pampered from right to left” I don’t see any “brain pampering” in what they actually have in store for girls:
Who paints girls’ faces with half a ton of make-up like that and calls it “pampering”? They also enter them into beauty contests with fake wigs and more make-up:
Keep your daughters and sisters away from FRIZZY!!
The Migrant Center will serve as a space where migrant and domestic workers meet, organize, plan events and celebrations, hang out, hold discussions and more. We are now cleaning, renovating, and painting the center in preparation for the opening on September 4, 2011. Here are some photos:
The Center is still empty and we need your help and contributions to the wishlist below.
You can email Priya, who will be the Center Coordinator on email@example.com for more info on how to contribute. We are currently looking for:
Chalk / Cork / White boards
Games (foozball, board game, etc…)
Library and books
You can read the full post in Arabic about the Lebanese Parliament vote to cancel Article 562 of the Penal Code that offers reduced sentences for “honor” crimes.
The Committee for Administration and Justice, headed by MP Robert Ghanem, had raised the recommendation to cancel Article 562 back on May 16, 2011. The matter was put to a vote as the last point on the agenda of the legislative parliamentary meeting yesterday. Some MPs argued against the annulment: Butros Harb, Samir El Jisr, Imad El Hout, and Ali Fayyad. Others argued for removing Article 562: Sami Gemayel, Elie Keyrouz, Antoine Zahra, Marwan Hamadeh, Ghassan Moukhaiber, and Elie Aoun, and their arguments were good.
The vote finally passed FOR and the article should now officially be removed from the Penal Code. I could not find information on the voting numbers – I will post those when I do. Nayla Tueni and Gilberte Zouein (who represent half of the women in parliament since we only have four) were not even present.
It is important to note that Saada Allaw from AsSafir had written an article objecting to the annulment of Article 562 without looking at Article 252 as well. Article 252 allows for reduced sentences on crimes committed in a state of rage. She argues that many judges in Lebanon would frame “honor” crimes as ones committed in a state of rage and criminals could still benefit from reduced sentences. Although she is right, I don’t think we could have a Penal Code that does not distinguish between pre-meditated murder and second degree murder. So I am not sure what the solution would be – perhaps to forbid its use when it comes to gender-based violence. Thoughts?
The important thing now is that this small and long overdue victory does not take our eyes off the crucial battle of sending the bill to Protect Women from Family Violence into Parliament for a vote. It is right now still in the Special Committee and might be vetoed through the pressure of religious groups. “Honor” crimes are a direct result of the vicious cycle of gender-based violence going unpunished and remaining a taboo in Lebanon. So if we’ve agreed to cancel those, we might as well install protective laws against violence all together.
In all cases, congratulations to the women’s movement on this victory
Yesterday, a group of independent activists demonstrated in front of the Syrian embassy in Beirut to express solidarity with the people of Syria and condemn the Ramadan Massacre in Hama. Shortly after they had stood there in silence, a groups of thugs arrived violently chanting pro-Bashar slogans. The activists formed a human line to separate the two groups. Then another group approached from the other side with knives, canes, and metal chairs and began attacking the protestors. Many fled into nearby buildings, restaurants and shops and were still followed by the thugs who lurked around Hamra for hours after, continuing to beat up the protestors. Two police officers who were there at the beginning disappeared soon after and none of the army officers or police who were around the area interfered to stop the attacks. Check the video below for a scene of the horrific attack.
Some protestors suffered heavy injuries from the beatings and are still in the hospital, while many others suffered beatings, cuts, and bruises. Activists head to the Hobeich police station to report the attacks and found zero cooperation from the police. The perpetrators must and will be prosecuted for their illegal attacks and all Ministries are held accountable for failing to protect their citizens to express themselves freely and peacefully. This is an atrocity and we must not be silent about it.
Al Jazeera Stream hosted a debate on the proposed Law to Protect Women from Family Violence last night. I was arguing for and Sounay Nouh of the Women’s Committee to Protect the Family was arguing against. Discussion focused on marital rape, culture, child protection, and the current legal protection mechanisms.
I am off today to Malaysia for the 4th Sexuality Institute organized by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR). I attended in 2008 as a participant and now I am going back as a trainer and facilitator.
If you’re interested in the bibliography of readings on sexuality and Islam for the institute, check them out.
Guest post by Christine @czahm
Yesterday, while having a coffee at Colombiano in Sassine Square, Ashrafieh, this is what I witnessed:
A shoe shiner came up to one of the customers and asked to shine his shoes. The customer being the super important person he is shoos away the guy with: rou7 min houn wla! (Get lost!)
And then, almost out of nowhere, Elie, one of the waiters, grabs the shoe shiner from the back by the shoulders and violently hurls/ pushes him. The shoe shiner barely has time to gain balance, when Elie slaps him very hard on the head!!!!!!!
I was ENRAGED! I couldn’t wait for Elie to walk back past my table, I got out of my chair and walked up to him. I’ll admit, I was scared; Elie is much bigger than I am, and I had just seen how violent he can be. As I stood in front of him, I had to put my hand on his chest, and push him back a little, otherwise, he would have walked right passed me.
I can’t remember what I said exactly, but something along the lines of: What’s wrong with you? Who gave you the right to hit someone? Who do you think you are? Shame on you.
His immediate response was: You don’t know what this guy has done before!!!!
My friend and I filled out a comments card, and asked for Zeina, the manager’s phone number. My friend called her a couple of hours after the incident, and I called her today.
Not so surprisingly, she was pretty chill about it, saying lines like: Well, I can’t undo something that was done already. This guy has stolen from our customers a couple of times before. I agree with you that Elie should not have been violent, I have talked to him, and we have taken corrective action. What we care about is that our customers be comfortable!!!! (Oh yeah, seeing a waiter act violently with a passerby, did put me at ease!!!)
I am grossed out… I am! I don’t mean this as a personal attack on Colombiano, Zeina, or even Elie. This incident could have happened at a different place, with a different waiter and handled by a different manager. But I just couldn’t let this go by unnoticed, and undocumented. The attitude some people have in this country is just disgraceful! Thinking they are better than someone with a less paying job, or from a poorer country… SHAME! Shame on them.
Guest Post by Jad Baaklini
On July 1, an independent group of anti-sectarian activists organizing within the Matn region convened a discussion of Christian thought and Secularism by University of Balamand lecturer and cleric Joseph Massouh. ‘3ala Matn el 3elmaniye/On Board Secularism’, which I am a member of, organized this event to address a problem it faced while agitating against the sectarian system in the past few months, as part of the Isqat al Nizam movement; given the demographic make-up of our region, most people we spoke to understood our cause as a cipher for a majoritarian coup aimed at further marginalizing the Christians at best, or a project of outright ‘Islamification’ at worst.
We felt we needed to approach our community from a perspective different from the usual left-leaning narrative; while our region has had a long history of progressive-nationalist political activity, we wanted to engage with those who do not share these points of reference, and take their concerns seriously. It was important for us to communicate how the secular state that we call for is not something to fear nor at odds with their culture and upbringing.
On the contrary, during his talk Massouh went as far as saying that even when basing himself purely on Christian values and points of reference, the case for secularism is very strong; “as a cleric, it is my religious duty to protest against the sectarian system and not just my national one,” he insisted.
Massouh began his cogent and engaging argument by highlighting the roots of secular thought in Europe, saying that Christianity, when understood as a social phenomenon and not as the teachings of Christ himself, has had a “black history” full of war. In his opinion, secularism in Europe freed both citizens and religious authorities alike by allowing priests to focus on their proper role as interpreters of spiritual matters instead of dictating people’s lives.
He then went on to outline the history of anti-sectarian thought within the Libano-Syrian Christian community, recalling Boutrous Boustani’s ridicule of the system around 150 years ago in the journal Nafeer Sourya in which he called sectarianism “backwardness” and “barbarism”.
“The system always generates war and yet we still say that ours is a pluralist system, a ‘message’,” Massouh continued. “Incidentally, John Paul II’s statement about Lebanon was mistranslated; he didn’t say we are ‘greater than a nation’ (akbar min watan), he said we are ‘more than a nation’ (aktar min watan), and he’s right; we’re more than one nation.” He went on to say that this ‘message’ must be understood as in need of constant ‘re-writing’ (i3adat siyagh) in order to build a unifying civic and national identity.
Massouh then explained how the “Greater Lebanon” period established the current confessionalist balance: “We Christians were the majority and we had power, but failed to build a state. We never had a ‘man of state’ (rajul dawle),” he insisted. “If we did, he would have left us something of a state. No, they were all concerned with benefiting from it.”
Massouh asked Christians to stop thinking in terms of numbers, an idea echoed later by an audience member who put it best saying: “stop counting!” Massouh stressed on the fact that population size is no guarantee of anything, adding provocatively that within the current system, we cannot expect non-Christian sects to be charities; “they are not Caritas.” Christians looking for protection and existential guarantees can only expect to find it under secularism, he concluded.
So how does Massouh understand this system? He differentiated between laïcité and sécularisme, with the latter holding a (materialist) position with respect to religion itself, while the former aiming only to drive a wedge between secular (i.e. non-clerical) affairs of the state and the spiritual affairs of religious authorities. Hence, Massouh advocated laïcié and not anti-religious secularism, but also insisted that people have a right to non-belief. “Just because my father is Orthodox doesn’t mean I should remain one; why should a priest rule over me [in marital affairs] just because I was born that way?”
“People have a right to leave their sect; we [clerics] would be acting in bad faith (nifaq) if we did not allow them to leave,” he insisted.
Secularism according to Massouh would confer full citizenship to people: “If I were born a Sunni in Koura, where the only parliamentary seats are for Orthodox people, I would not be a full citizen; I would be living in dhimmitude.”
“Women are not allowed to confer citizenship to their children if their father is non-Lebanese,” he continued. “The fear is that they may marry Palestinians… Can’t a woman fall in love with a Palestinian? Jesus was a Palestinian!”
Massouh criticized Islamic institutions that do not accept laws that protect women from domestic violence, for example, but he also criticized Christians who say that they will accept such civil laws when Muslims accept them. He urged people to support these measures based on their principles, saying that “waiting is not part of Christian belief; we work on bringing God’s Kingdom in the here and now”.
Wrapping up his talk, Massouh warned that the current system did not help Christians, asking those of the faith in the room to remember the secularist tradition of their great grandparents, adding: “clerics who defend the sectarian system speak against Christ.”
While some in the audience asked questions indicating that they were still not convinced about secularism itself or the current Isqat al Nizam movement, the feedback overall was very positive. One audience member told me later that not only was Massouh’s case for secularism made very well (“he is more engaging than Gregoire Haddad even!”), basics of Christianity became much clearer to him for the first time.
3ala Matn el 3elmaniye/On Board Secularism hopes to organize more events in line with our belief in community-based, regionally-aware activism, and offers this discussion as a model for others working within areas that may not be immediately hospitable to secularism to emulate and develop.
the objectification of women in advertising continues. The 1978 ad is a prime example of how [naked] women are adding haphazardly in ads to sell products that have little to do with women or nudity. Patriarchy endorses the use of women’s bodies as objects to sell just about anything. In the 2011 ad, the woman’s face is cut off (she is not a subject after all but an object) and her breasts have been replaced with huge lotto balls. Would we ever see an ad where men’s balls are replaced with objects in order to sell?
Check out this shocking compilation of (mostly international) ads that endorse sexual harassment and violence against women.
ALEF (Act for Human Rights) have put up new billboards in Lebanon Azebak Mesh Raha calling for the elimination of torture in detention centers. Jails, prisons, and other detention centers in Lebanon are notorious for their ill-treatment of detainees. Men and women – especially marginalized communities such as migrant workers, drug users, sex workers, LGBTs – regularly get tortured physically and verbally. It is also common practice for the police to torture confessions out of detained individuals.
Non-state actors such as political parties who rule with authority in their areas also use torture techniques to intimidate and control people. The Lebanese state should as well be held responsible for these violations of human rights. Check out this As Safir article for more stats from ALEF’s studies.
Call to Bloggers
Bloggers who are interested in joining ALEF’s Torture Monitoring Unit can contact layal.samaha [at] alefliban.org and learn more about how they can become active in reporting torture in Lebanon. The unit holds regular trainings on how to identify torture, where it happens, how to document and report it, and other useful skills. Bloggers are an integral part of this unit alongside traditional media journalists.