Posts tagged beirut
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on how to contribute. We are currently looking for:
Chalk / Cork / White boards
Games (foozball, board game, etc…)
Library and books
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.
After months of incessant publicity (all of which started through social media and then moved into press coverage), the Lebanese Laique Pride, a march for secularism, finally took place this morning with thousands of people participating! Numbers are estimated at two to three thousand, but I am very sure that at least 5,000 people started the march. At one point, they filled up the width of the road from on top of the Expo Beirut tunnel all the way down and around the Phoenicia hotel. Everyone came together for a very simple, yet daring and bold, initiative by 5 friends: Nasri Sayegh, Yalda Younes, Said Chaitou, Alexandre Paulikevitch, and Kinda Hassan. Often, the best organizing for social change starts with an idea that a small group of friends have.
Many news agencies have reported that a maximum of 2,000 participants marched in today’s event, although many of us are sure we had way more than 2,000. Here is a photo by @funkyozzi that shows only a part of the march – clearly in the thousands.
A Unified Stand Against Sectarianism
The march was not longer than a couple of kilometers – starting on the Corniche of Ain El Mraisse all the way up to Masaref Street of Downtown Beirut. Secularist organizations, student groups, women’s organizations (including the awesome Nasawiya), and a majority of unaffiliated citizens marched together with slogans, chants, drumbeats, whistles, led by a truck with blasting music and secularist slogans:
- “Ta2 Ta2 Ta2ifiyyi.. La2 La2 3ilmaniyyi..” (Sec Sec Sectarianism.. No, No, Secularism)
- “Shou tayiftak? Ma khassak!” (What’s your religion/sect? It’s none of your business!)
- “Al-3ilmaniyyi hiyyil 7al” (Secularism is the solution)
In a country so deeply divided along sectarian lines (in the personal status laws, in every aspect of the government, in people’s mindsets) which are manifested in civil wars and conflicts all the time, this march was totally awesome. Who would have thought so many people of all shapes and sizes would show up in such large numbers to support the idea of an anti-sectarian state in Lebanon? I had attended some of the organizational meetings of the event, where many people kept asking: what’s next? How is this going to help? What is it going to achieve? What is your political demand? How are we going to solve the issues posed by sectarianism, which seem like a total political deadlock? Etc. I personally think the organizers played it smart by saying that they weren’t trying to solve the entire sectarian crisis in Lebanon. They were, however, trying to bring people who believe in or work on secularism in Lebanon together on one day, for one march, to show first and foremost that there are many of us. The thousands who actually showed up stand for tens of thousands who were sitting at home. We also showed that we can put our differences in strategy and ideology aside for one day to come together and show solidarity for our cause. What happens afterward? We keep on fighting our battles, debating this system we live in, and maybe, perhaps, who knows, some of us might have been so inspired by the feeling and ambiance today that we step it up a notch in terms of working together and raising a stronger unified voice against the many ugly faces of sectarianism in Lebanon.
Also, I want to give a big shout out to citizen journalism, which is alive and kicking in Beirut! It seemed like every other person had a photo or video camera, and I recognized many bloggers and tweeps taking part and snapping pictures. Of course there was the genius banner: “Sectarian #Epic #Fail” which only a handful of people understood but adored The number of participants on the ground was also a big boost to all of us slactivists who use Facebook and social media as our major tool of organizing. They are becoming more effective tools every day.
Things I liked most: We didn’t have any sectarian infiltrators, though that probably means nobody was taking us seriously =) A woman led the march. There were lots of baby strollers and dogs! Everybody seemed really happy. I got to carry my “3omro ma yirja3 al-tawezon il ta2ifi” (To Hell with sectarian balance) for the second time. Things I didn’t like: singing the friggin national anthem when we got close to Parliament. #Boo. I can’t stand national anthems. There was no mention of Palestinians and a lot of mention of “Lebanese” “Lebanesedom” “Lebanese-ness” which also makes me feel nauseous.
But yeah, awesome march all in all =) Here’s a pic of my favorite people at the march: the feminists and the tweeps (and me, the feminist tweep).
And I had to include this photo of the secularist doggie!
For those of you who missed my live tweeting entertainment last night, here they are: the questions asked by the jury on Mr & Miss Beirut 2009 on Future TV. They have NOT been altered in any way to make them more comic (or tragic). My comments in red.
- Would you become a singer if you had a bad voice? Or would you not?
- Would you rather win the title or win the lottery?
- How does beauty serve our great city, Beirut?
- Beirut is world book capital – how will you build on that if you win tonight? Perhaps you will write a book? Oh, perhaps he means you will read a book?
- Lebanon is living a beauty renaissance with the boom of plastic surgery. Do u prefer using it only to enhance one’s features or are you pro changing one’s features completely? Again, I swear, that was the question.
- Are you for or against men enhancing their beauty at beauty salons?
- What is success?
- Is tourism in Lebanon important or has it become annoying?
- As a man, when they told you you’re gonna be on a beauty pageant, what was your reaction? Why would someone tell him – did he not decide on his own?
- Beirut is world book capital and we are here on the same stage that announced that amazing title and we are all participating in something just as amazing, so what do you say to Beirut on this occasion? Yes, it’s practically the same glorious occasion.
- Lebanon has a heritage of great journalists. If you are crowned Mr. Beirut, how will journalists help you & how will you help yourself? Yes, Lebanon’s heritage of great journalists is just waiting to write about Mr. Beirut. This guy’s answer was so amazing that it merits mention.
- Answer: Ana jeyi min Amerka so akeed baddi jeeb ishya w afkar min Amerka ma3i 3a Beirut. Yes, that was his answer.
- Who is better: he who looks angry and intimidates people or he who is always smiling? >:( vs.
- What does beauty mean to you in two words?
- What is the greatest challenge facing youth today? Ok this guy actually replied something smart about climate change and the failure of world leaders at the Copenhagen summit.
- What do you think of the proverb “sois belle et tais-toi”?
Final Question to 5 boy finalists: If you were a Lebanese Member of Parliament for 24 hours, what would you do?
- Lebanon is great as it is.. but I would work on security like Ziad Baroud, he is a great na2ib and I admire him. Ummmm.. Ziad Baroud is not an MP, dude, he’s a minister.
- 24 hours is not enough for someone like me who can do amazing things for the country, but I would fix all the juvenile prisons
- <pause> I would take care of the financing.. cos since I came to Lebanon from Amerka, I’ve seen kids begging on the street and I’ve been thinking that Lebanese people should have social security
- I will take care of children with cancer and homeless people.. and all the poor people in Lebanon
- I would demand that on one day we stop all cars and all factories, maybe we can help the environment.
Final Question to 5 girl finalists: Describe Beirut in 30 seconds.
- Beirut sitt al donya and the most beautiful Arab country & we have tourism
- Beirut is the link between East and West, it is the heart of Lebanon and the mother and everything
- Beirut is the capital of Lebanon as we all know…
- 30 seconds is not enough.. but I will try.. Beirut is thousands of years of civilization.. of course 30 seconds is not enough for me to describe it.
- Beirut is the capital of all Lebanese.. those in Lebanon & those living abroad.. Beirut is the world book capital 2009 and that’s very important.
Thank you for this amazing tribute to our great city of Beirut. I am sure its great heritage is in safe hands. Oh, and by the way, in case you didn’t know, Beirut was the world book capital in 2009.