15.3.05

The Counting Game

There's an old joke that says democracy is four wolves and one lamb deciding what to have for lunch.

But, in truth, democracy is not majority rule. And I don't condone the counting game when it comes to public opinion.

What Monday meant to me was:
a) Rafik Hariri's murder will not be brushed under the carpet ...the truth must be known.
b) The opposition in Lebanon is not negligible ...it is a palpable force that must be respected.
c) Lebanese have never been more willing to forego their sectarian and provincial differences and come together under one flag ...may that last long after independence is regained.

If you haven't seen enough pictures of the protest or the candle vigil, you can check out what I took with my cellphone, here.

24 Comments:

At Tuesday, March 15, 2005 9:38:00 PM, Blogger QArab said...

a) The "Truth" will never be known, since it will always be questioned by one party or another. The Truth is what is convenient to what we choose to believe. Many Lebanese now believe the Syrians killed Hariri... no investigation in the world will change their mind.. and vice versa.

b) There is no "opposition" in Lebanon, this is the good old secterian groups (Kataeb, Quwat, Socialists, Mourabetoon, etc...) that are back at each other necks. If there is a true opposition in Lebanon, then they would put Sfeir, Jumblatt, Nasrallah, Gemayel, and the whole bunch on a ship and send them away.

c) see b. Fact is this is nothing new... plus ca change, plus ca reste le meme. Since I was born, till I die, it will be the same crap... Franjieh, Assad, Salman, Hoss, etc. etc. We are divided now, because we were never united in the first place. Lebanon was built on secterianism (merci france)...it is built into our constitution.. the president has to be a maronite, prime minister sunni, etc. etc. No one challenges that. We have more allegiances to Bkerki and Mukhtara then we do to our fellow Lebanese.

If we have a true democracy tomorow...we may end up with a Shiite president, something that I doubt the so-called opposition can live with.

so, until the day we can get rid of secterianism, until the day someone from Kesrouan will vote for someone from Baalbeck based on their records and ideals (as opposed to their sect), we should not call for democracy, try our best to maintain a peaceful status quo, and educate, educate, educate.

PS: If you really thought the Syrians are the root of our problems, you are sooooo naive.

 
At Tuesday, March 15, 2005 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Ramzi said...

... should I reply to this comment or should I wait till someone else does? Hmmm... I guess I'm too naive to make a decision. I'll give it a day (assuming of course that people of his intellectualism check to read replies)

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Ramzi said...

Qarab,

You decided to pass judgement on me from a few words and call me naive, very well.

a) It is true that most people have already presumed who is guilty and are tired of waiting for an investigation that is so inept and clumsy that 29 days have passed without any results. I myself have my own suspicions and what they are is none of your business nor am I forcing them on anyone. Some suspect Syrian Intelligence is behind the murder, true. You, in your wisdom, properly believe it's Abu Addas. These suspicions have nothing to do with the need for this investigation to be done, and done properly. That is what the people were demonstrating for.

b) It's funny that you can't see the opposition. I suppose one million people are easy to miss.

c) Lebanon needs a lot of change and reform, true. 20 years ago we were at each other's throats. Today, Lebanese of all sects are united behind the need for freedom, justice and right to self-determination. You can't see that as a step in the right direction? Your 'wisdom' dictates that we mantain the status quo and rely on education? This isn't a pop quiz. Only change that comes gradually can be sustained. If the current leaders bother you, don't worry they will all pass away sooner or later. Sooner maybe if we keep the status quo of political assassination and elimination as you wisely suggested.

I never once referred to the Syrian presence in Lebanon as being the root of all evil. YOU made that statement, YOU attributed it to me, and YOU called it naive. Self-criticism is healthy, I suggest you practice it more often.

I will continue to naively celebrate everything that forwards my people's desire for justice, freedom and democracy.

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 12:49:00 AM, Blogger Tempest said...

Touche Ramzi.

It's funny, how there's a pattern to a pro-Syrian's argument... They started with numbers, not accepting that representatives of a majority of the population were united. They referred to a protest (as if that's a way to decide the majority), and failed. They try to drive wedges, not accepting that it is possible that these parties, that form the opposition, and that were once opposed to each other, have united for a greater goal. When that fails, they throw the sectarian issue out there. It's hilarious, really.

A non-sensical argument, that can be only attributed to a lack of faith in Lebanon. Then again, what would you expect from people who obey a foreign leader?

It's sad that instead of one giant lebanese flag made of more than a million patriotic hearts, they saw treason and sectarianism. It's sad that they accept a status quo where a politician (any politician) is killed in broad daylight a few hundred meters from parliament and in the middle of the capital. It's sad that they don't even want to give this beautiful experiment a shot. They condemned it as usual, with the typical rhetoric of Nasrallah, Qanso, Frangieh et al... Traitors, Israel, America, Death, Death, Bahhh

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 1:07:00 AM, Blogger ZouNazar said...

qarab,hi

the funny thing that i found your comment is very rich.

i fully agree with you that if you are sitting on the other side of the fence you will see many opposition leaders did many bad things to lebanese people.if there were real institution and free parliament to protect the rights and duties of the lebanese i do not think that lebanese will fight against each other.let us forget the other countries who put more oil in the fire.

I am not a naive ,this is the history of many countries,lebanon was without real lebanese education and real institutions to ptrotect the rights of lebanese ,we have failed to build the real lebanon which should be the land of all lebanese despite their relgions or thoughts

Lebanon to me is a ongoing project for lebanon.

let us build it together,even from your point of view you are protecting the democracy and i support you completely ,let us discuss the matters of lebanon in a peaceful way ,do you agree ?

also i have something to mention ,many internal wars happened in the history ,what to do? this is the history of the human being ,do i have to see the other group ot party who tried to kill me and not forgive him for good,i need a country ,i have to forgive the other partner,in the end all were trying to do something to make lebanon more free.let us learn from the other countries how they overcome the bloodshed and built a strong country.

I don't mind that Nesrallah to be a president of lebanon ,i don't care ,my only concern is the lebanese institution who should be built to protect my rights and show me my duties ,also i need an institution who could protect my private and public freedom,this is the main issue ,after that let one lebanese jewish be a president of lebanon ,i don't mind at all and i will vote for him if he will obey the lebanese institution.

lebanon could not be a muslim or christian country and lebanon institution could not be the place for sending israel or syria to the sea,sending 6 millions israelians or 17 millions syrians to the sea is not a good idea ,it is a massacre.

we have to learn that lebanon future should be plenty of forgiveness and democracy

without this forgiveness we will be not showing the real democracy,democracy to me is to accept the fault of the others with the same package of his advantages.

democracy for some means one person one vote ,this is the junk democracy.

do you agree with the above ?

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 1:11:00 AM, Blogger ZouNazar said...

sorry

read institution as a meaning of constitution

regards

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 1:24:00 AM, Blogger Firas said...

You have to be willing to accept that people change QArab. We have a collective memory of war behind us and I think that Lebanese people are more mature *NOW* than what you give them credit for. Many people don't like Bush, and I don't blame them, but when it comes to Lebanon's current situation, I think that we need to see it independant of being conservative or liberal, or Lebanonist or Arabist, etc... This is a group of people who are fed up, and united by the outrage at a horrible crime. Death is death, and the opposition being the enemy of the syrian government who are enemies of Bush should not make the opposition evil in the eye of people who dislike Bush and his ways. In other words, my enemy's enemy's enemy should not be my enemy. There's a saying that goes "Even a broken watch gets the time right twice a day." If Bush supports freedom of Lebanon from a corrupt regime, that doesn't mean that almost a million people are right wing sectarians. Yes QArab, one shouldn't be so naive.

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 1:31:00 AM, Blogger Firas said...

That being said QArab, I would like to point out that while I wrote my comment, Zounazar was typing his. I hope you don't think that we're a group of people with the same opinion who gang up on anyone who posts a contrary argument. Please feel free to join this forum, and keep posting your ideas.

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 7:22:00 PM, Blogger QArab said...

Firas and Zounazar, I totally agree with you. I think what is upsetting me is the simplicity in the way many Lebanese are dealing with this issue. The belief that Syrian presence is at the heart of our problems, in my opinion, is naive. Syrian presence in Lebanon is a symptom of our disease, not the cause of it. By removing that presence, you are only removing a band-aid and hoping that there won't be any bleeding.

The root of our problems was and still is secterianism. this is what led to the war, and this is what got the Syrians in...

I really do not see anyone in Lebanon now actively challenging the secterian set up in the government...specifically, stripping the constitution from secterian references...making anyone elligible to hold any office within the government.

The so-called opposition will not do that because they are a de-facto front for the powerful and rich. They also represent their sects. They know that a true democracy (one person/one vote) would strip them of their powers.

It is an outrage that Lebanon has not had a census since 1932. Why is Sfier opposed to any census? It is an outrage that in the 21st Century we still have limit representation based on sect.

Syria or no Syria, the problem is us... and while I am an optimist when it comes to the new generation, fact is that so far, it has been mainly talk in chat rooms and select media outlets.

Hayy mish balad, hayy ortet 3alam majmou3een...

Slogans are nice, orchestrated protest is also very moving.. but at the end of the day, reason should lead us, not emotions.

Never trust anyone with a long beard.

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 8:35:00 PM, Blogger Eve said...

So Qarab, what do you think we should do? the problem is us w no2ta 3ala essater? why is it always our problem and our fault?
As you have noticed, there were manifestations from both sides in Lebanon. I don't want to go into which group had the "majority", and which the "minority". That is not the issue here. My point is that Lebanon, as always, is expressing more than one point of view (none of them is naive). And that is not such a bad thing in itself. Having several communities, or being "sectarian" as you called it, has become our own idendity: to mold all these into one Lebanese identity. So, not all Lebanese people share the same opinion about who killed Hariri, but at least no one is asking Syria to stay.
Ok, a Muslim cannot be President, nor a Christian a Prime Minister, but I think that is a cheap price to pay. After all, not all powers lie within one single person. (in the US for example, the same kind of problem remains, although tacit most of the time; only, this time it's white/black people conflict). Ya3neh, people will always find some point of difference to disagree upon. Each time there are differences, people find it hard to accept the Other (L'Autre), but in the end, they discover that sometimes differences (and what they create as a new mixture) are, actually, a very good thing. I see I may have drifted away from the main subject, but anyway, this is what I wanted to say.
Ramzi, sorry, I was going to comment, in the first place, on your lovely pictures. Keep your mobile stand-by :-)

 
At Wednesday, March 16, 2005 11:22:00 PM, Blogger QArab said...

eve... I don't think we ever took a critical look at our own society... for as long as I can remember, our problems have always been someone else's faults.. the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Americans, etc. etc.

You mention the US as an example... however, in the US anyone can run for office.. and indeed, there are blacks, jews, hispanics, gays, and other groups that run and win office based on their merit.. not on their identity. Because people realized that they have something else in common that is bigger than their sect.. their US identity. We don't have that in Lebanon. I wish we were there, but we are nowhere close. Each group is governed by their religious or clan leader, and each person at the end of the day will follow.

We are a very racist people too... we hate everyone else... we have jokes for Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, Gulfies, etc. etc. and don't get me started on our attitude towards Indians and Sri Lankans... the way some Lebanese treat their help is nothing less than slavery.

We are so full of empty patriotic slogans... Lebanon #1, Lebanon is the best.. yet, we are the first in line to get a green card and get the hell out. We have no industry, we don't support local producers, we have an inferiority complex vis a vis the west, specially our old colonizer.

and I could go on...yet, I love this country.. I grew up in it, and I know that there is still goodness there.

Thanks to all who sent me evil messages on my blog (queerarab.blogspot.com)

Love the net

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 1:22:00 AM, Blogger Tempest said...

Why are you queerarab and not queer lebanese?

I just noticed this. That is a major issue, the conflict between arabism and nationalism.

We cannot change the Lebanese society. Nor can we give up on it. The first ray of hope came with monday's protest. People united for a national, instead of a regional or sectarian cause. This could constitute a start.

It is natural, of course, for someone who believes in arabism to try to deflect the blame from outside sources (since those sources are mostly arab) and blame it on the Lebanese. Frangieh does that, as does Hizballah, Qanso, Qandeel, etc... They never blame the Palestinians for the war in Lebanon, they never blame Syria for bleeding the country dry. You are doing the exact same thing.

Yes, Lebanon is #1, in my humble opinion. These patriotic slogans are everywhere, as are regional jokes. You want to tell me that the French don't make fun of the Germans? Or that the Americans don't make fun of Mexicans or Canadians, let alone rednecks, faggots, niggers, leftists, dykes, nerds, jocks, sand-niggers, whitey, ragheads,.... This crap is everywhere.

Also, racism, and the superiority/inferiority complex is also a global thing. Neo-Nazis hate dark skinned people, as does the French right-wingers. KKK. Qaeda. Nazis. Fascists. Apartheid. White Slavery. Child prostitution.... crap is all around us, queerarab.

That's life. Let's not try to blame it all on Lebanon.

And Finally. Homosexuality was a big issue on the campaign trail in the US. The US divides voters along racial lines, black, hispanic, asian, white. These main groups are grouped together and their vote is looked at as the 'black vote' or the 'hispanic vote', etc... Maybe our onstitution says it literally, but these limitations on people running for public office are everywhere. We will work on eliminating it from lebanon in some form or the other soon. But first, we've got some occupiers that we need to kick out.

Again, there are more important issues than social ones. Syria has crippled Lebanon. It hasn't allowed Lebanon to return from the devastation of the civil war. Once they are out, we can start dealing with our own mess, ON OUR OWN.

Apart from that, what's your point? Stop criticising, and start seeing the positive things happening.

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 1:28:00 AM, Blogger Tempest said...

I just read your blog.

I take my comment back. You're disgusting. Not only do you make fun of people fighting to Liberate their country, you twist the facts. The first Syrian was killed by another Syrian. There's nothing to rule out that someone else is doing this to incite violence. (The second was stabbed in a pro-Syrian region...)

That you would pick this small incident and make a huge issue out of it shows where your interests lie. Your blog show where your loyalties lie, and what you think of Lebanon.

I'm disgusted.

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 2:39:00 AM, Blogger QArab said...

and where do my loyalties lie? do tell?

The things I write about on my blog are what I consider to be true. Sometimes truth hurt... sometimes we don't like it when someone points out our ugliness.

and as far as Queer Arab vs Queer Lebanese... We Lebanese are Arabs, get over it. Those who think otherwise stink with racist attitudes against their own.

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 10:33:00 AM, Blogger ZouNazar said...

Dear guys,

I find this argument very rich

Are we Arab or pure Lebanese/phoenician?

Let us say if the Arabism is like europism I don't think somebody will deny being Arabic.

I was thinking why all the funds which we have taken from all the banks in the world, there is no single loan to recover the history of our ancestors, we are under 40 billions dollars loan, could somebody tell me why there is no single loan addressed to recover our history which is laying down one meter under our land?

I am sure that most of you has read the national geography magazine edition 2004 October or September, the fact that all Lebanese share the same genes going back to 20 000 years ago, I am sure that 20 000 years ago are enough to prove that were no Arabic ancestors.

Also we all know that we are Homo sapiens from Africa, the immigration has started from there, so we are all Africans including all the nations.

I could guide all of you to read phoenicia.org; it is a wonderful site for having better view of our identity as Lebanese or Phoenicians

Did we write yet our history? I don't think so ....

All these rubbish in our history book is a junk history, especially with the latest genes tests.

Now regarding our regime, I have to admit that we have failed to build a strong country, despite all the facts about the foreigner oil on the top of our fire fight and stupidity, could I ask you: if there is no strong American government in USA, could somebody guarantees that there will be no civil war between the Americans?

Let us face the fact, when there is no strong government you will see the tribes rules or religious leaders rules are ruling the people.

Regards

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Eve said...

there is nothing wrong with people displaying news, but what is regrettable is that they don't update them regurlarly. They get so excited when saying: "Oh, look, now Lebanese people are killing Syrians", but when it turns out that it was done by a Syrian guy, nobody finds the news exciting anymore.
Anyway, Qarab, I think the idea of judging Lebanese people as racists is a racist stereotype in itself. true, there are people as you described, but there are plenty who are not as well. And, as Tempest mentioned, racist people are everywhere in the world. Even in The U.S. : Have you ever seen a black President? The Oscars people just remembered a couple of years ago that, ever since the establishment of their corporation, they had never awarded black actors, and suddenly found Denzel & Hally Berry brilliant (+actors in Ray and Million Dollar Baby this year).
Of course we are an Arab country. I think all that bla bla about "I'm Phoenician not Arab" is a mere waste of time.
I'm not disgusted by your words. You're Lebanese, and you have another point of view.

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 3:30:00 PM, Blogger liminal said...

Some of you might laugh...but seriously...

eve,

halle "can be an honorary lebanese" berry won a razzie this year, not an oscar. i was watching tv that week. what can i say. and, yea, she's a great in jungle fever and bulworth. i don't know if she's as talented as jamie fox is in his depiction of ray charles, though. for the record, anyway...

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 4:21:00 PM, Blogger Eve said...

Yeah, I heard Catwoman was a total failure. I wan't thinking of watching it anyway. I don't know what's their story with super natural animals: cats, bats, spiders... ana bidoun shi, ma b7ib l7ayawaneit :-) But she did win an Oscar last year, or the one before... I lost count.

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 5:36:00 PM, Blogger liminal said...

you don't like animals??? really? how come?

the whole comic book/super hero film thing is a wasted genre at this point. way too many...i agree!

what does everybody think about sayyid coming out at saying he and the others will go to trial?

yet another joke


I don't know when berry won...was it for , not monster, but something liket hat...

 
At Thursday, March 17, 2005 7:29:00 PM, Blogger hummbumm said...

You know I am so sick of we lebanese being forced to wear the Arab mantle. Americans, British, Australians etc.. do not have to go around saying we are anglo-saxons! they share a common history and a common language, BUT they have evolved as independent nations. Yes we share a common cultural history and languages with other countries in the "Arab" world, but can we not pursue our own national interests. Are we not lebanese first, arab second, or are australians anglo-saxon first! mexicans are latin first! Lebanon is certainly an imperfect place, but syrian domination is not going to make it better, only hard work by concerned citizens pursuing incremental and lasting changes. queerArab has similarities with another blogger, angryarab, they both share disdain towards the country of their birth as well as to the country in which they currently reside. They both share a penchant for ridicule, and denigration without any attempt at offering pragmatic solutions that would make any tangible difference. Being a cynic, a critic, a pundit is easy, it is seeing the potholes and yet still driving ahead into the unknown that is hard. That is why a person such as Hariri will be missed. He was an imperfect man, like all of us, but a man of action, with a can do attitude. He did not sit on the sidelines taking potshots, he built, made decisions, made mistakes but kept moving and pulled Lebanon along with him. Actions speak louder than words.

 
At Friday, March 18, 2005 5:33:00 AM, Blogger Firas said...

Here here, Hummbumm. Regarding angry arab, he was on NPR the other day. The other american guest was trying to say something positive about the situation and As'ad, A LEBANESE, was constantly putting him down saying things like "you don't know lebanese, they'll kill each other, etc..." Such shame. I sometimes wonder whether As'ad is so disdainful of positive things because if things get better there will be less reasons for an arab to be angry, and thus he will loose his only defining label. He's such an "anti" person. I've never heard that guy say a positive thing in my life.

You'd be blind not see the errors in Lebanon, but that didn't stop Hariri from going ahead and doing something.

 
At Friday, March 18, 2005 2:06:00 PM, Blogger Tempest said...

One has to accept everyone, of course. But I just went through several of 'angryarab''s posts, and I must say, I'm disgusted again.

Who are these people? Why are these Lebanese discrediting the achievements of the freedom fighters on the streets of Beirut?

That is the 'Arab' phenomenon, in my opinion. Where Radical Islamic parties are ok, but everything else is 'right-wing christian sectarian'. Where foreign occupation is ok (as long as it's arab)... This is a sad state of mind when a person (I'm not calling him lebanese if he doesn't call himself Lebanese), tries to deflate every single move by the patriotic opposition. And, when the truth appears, they ignore it for the next destructive rumor.

These people are living in the past. And, like hizballah and their allies (the minority, I would like you remind you, again), they don't want change. The shun the bright future that they're offered, that we're fighting for, and instead, chose to stay in the darkness of the past.

Oh, and I do stink with racism, queer, I'll tell you that. I think that being Lebanese is a great and beautiful thing. It sure beats being anything else, in my opinion.

You, on the other hand, are doomed to live in this perpetual state of anger and misery of yours. Arabism is a weakness. It's an identity forged in the early decades of this century for people who aren't proud with their heritage, in order that they may be proud with the cumulative heritage of all the 'arabs'. Personally, I'm more than proud with my Lebanon. Don't need arabism.

 
At Friday, March 18, 2005 2:58:00 PM, Blogger hummbumm said...

Amen sister, I cant' believe that so called leftists have a soft spot for Hizbullah, a fundamentalist religious group. It is ironic as well, that the minute Robert Fisk writes something that does not agree with their world view then clearly he was bought as well! Of course if and when he writes something negative about the US in Iraq, well in that case, of course his credibility is unimpeachable.

 
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