Lebanese Expatriates' Right to Vote!

This is a call to all fellow Lebanese citizens living abroad, based on a posting by a fellow expatriate (click on the title above to check out her blog; thanks Maya!)

Since the 2000 Electoral law will prevail for next month's elections (for more details, check out this article at the Daily Star), it is even more critical for expatriates to get involved. There are many of us and we can make a difference. We outnumber the Lebanese in Lebanon, and it is imperative that our votes count, especially at this pivotal moment in our history. A new bill has been proposed to allow Lebanese expatriates to vote (for more details, click here). You can support this bill by signing the petition for Lebanese expatriates' right to vote at lebanese-abroad.com. However, this bill for expatriates to vote from abroad will not be passed in time for these upcoming elections. In the meantime, if you have a Lebanese passport, you can fly to Lebanon and, yes, vote! A website called fly.2lebanon.com is trying to negotiate cheap group rates for people who would be willing to fly in May to take part in the elections. It's pretty awesome; check it out!


Let the Buddha in Lebanon Prevail

Lebanon has been freed from the military grip of Syria. How great is this?!
I wish I could express my joy for Syria's exit from Lebanon after all these years. Good riddance!

Now we need a new government and we'll be well on our way to paradise. Well, not quite. We still have one another to deal with! I have the feeling it won't be like times past even though the political scene seems like it's still operated by some dinosaurs. Meaning, I hope we see some fresh new faces on the scene soon. The youth of Lebanon deserve better.

Sorry I've been away for a while. I hope to be around a bit more in the coming days.

Most of all, I hope everybody here has been doing well. Both you and Lebanon are certainly in my thoughts during these days.

Warmest wishes,


Response to Marsden’s comment to my post

Marsden replied to my previous post as follow:

"Their entry in 1976 was to rescue the right-wing Maronite sectarian forces, and their withdrawal today will empower the right-wing Maronite sectarian forces." - As'ad Abu Khalil
12:35 PM
So the least you can do is thank them for keeping your kind in power.
12:35 PM

First I am sad that some people still think in these terms and still have a war mentality.

Second this is my response to Marsden:

My kind?? What do you mean Marsden? Are you implying that everyone who is feeling happy with the Syrian withdrawal is a right wing Maronite??

Do you mean that because I am happy that we no longer are under the mercy of the Syrian intelligence agents, I am a right wing Maronite!

It is clear that you are not living in Lebanon, that you have not felt the humiliation of living under the rule of the Baathist regime and its goons.

So again I am happy, and I congratulate every Lebanese for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon. And I do not thank the Syrians for anything!!

As a side note, although I am loathe to say it, I am a Muslim Sunni from Saida and I am proud of being first and foremost a Lebanese who want to live and enjoy Peace, Prosperity and Freedom in Lebanon.

So Marsden you are wrong on all account and believe me I feel much closer to any right wing Maronite who shared with me the same humiliation and hardship under the Syrian rule, than to you!


Call for discussion: Us & Them

So, now that they're gone, where go we go from here? In trying to reflect on the past several pivotal weeks in our history, several issues come to mind. One thing that concerns me is that fissure in Lebanese society that came to the surface after the assassination of Hariri and was perhaps at its climax during the tense days of "counter-demonstrations": namely, the Lebanese Shiites vs. the rest of the Lebanese. Before you jump down my throat, I am a Lebanese Shiite, or as I prefer to put it, I come from a Shiite family, since sect is one of those things that are dictated on us, the Lebanese, upon birth, regardless of faith. In any case, my interest in putting up this call for a discussion came after a comment my brother left to a post on my blog. The post was about an article in Slate magazine online by Elisabeth Eaves entitled "Camping in Beirut—A Revolutionary Act". Here is the comment; I thought it would be a good way to spur discussion:

When I read this article, I felt, well, sad.

I do not know why I am writing this, it does not relate much to the article, but I need to express it somewhere, this feeling that I have of perpetual guilt.

I am a Chiite Lebanese and I support the cause of the camp/revolution that is going on, and I did not take part in them. I was not willing to sacrifice my semester for something I knew was good for my country.

It might not be about sectarianism, and it might bring nothing out (though it has), but, if for anything, it was (and still is) about citizen contribution to the democratic process. That is all.

At times, when I discuss politics and ethics, I realize that I am not practicing what I say.

I once did a project about corruption in Lebanon. One of the steps that I claimed would function against corruption was taking part in protests, gatherings, strikes, and sit-ins. They make politicians aware of the fact that we are watching, I said. What am I?

Someone answer me.

I appreciated that comment--not only because it's my brother's--but especially because it brings to the front another issue, that of civic responsibility, and gives voice to those of us who didn't, or simply couldn't, be part of the making of this history. Perhaps many of us have become jaded in our part of the world about our power as a people, but I am sure more than a few people expressed cynicism at what was happening and its outcome. And perhaps this cynicism prevails still. Perhaps it is well-founded and perhaps it has been proven wrong. Whatever it is, it is a new set of givens that we grapple with at this point. It is perhaps not a very focused question that I am asking here, more of an attempt to incite reaction to these issues and this new order.

And in the end, congratulations to all of us, at home and abroad!


I want to congratulate all Lebanese and all freedom supporters everywhere, for the withdrawal of all Syrian troops from Lebanon.

This dream that seemed so far away just four month ago was made true so fast that I still can’t quite believe it!

Alas the price was, oh, so high. Rafic Hariri had to die for our dream to come true. So thank you Mr. Hariri where ever you are…

May Lebanon stay forever free.

Syrian Army departed at 1000 GMT, April 26, 2005ٍ

... فلو


بيروت الأنثى

نبشت هذه القصيدة البارحة:

إن يمت لبنان.. متّم معه

كل من يقتله.. كان القتيلا

كل قبح فيه, قبح فيكم
فأعيده.. كما كان جميلا

إنّ كونا ليس لبنان به
سوف يبقى عدما او مستحيلا

كل ما يطلبه لبنان منكم
أن تحبّوه ..تحبّوه قليلا

"الى بيروت الأنثى مع الاعتذار" - نزار قباني

Syrian army convoy withdrawing from Lebanon, towing a trailer that says: "Remote Control" (Cartoon appearing in An-Nahar Newspaper on April 25)

Voter Registration Numbers from Lebanon

I'll trasnlate some facts from this article:

  • Total Registered Voters with the interior ministry: 3,007,927
  • By Muhafaza:
    1. Mount Lebanon: 738,431 (24.5%)
    2. North Lebanon: 690,083 (22.9%)
    3. South Lebanon: 670,121 (22.2%)
    4. Biqaa Valley: 488,663 (16.2%)
    5. Beirut: 420,629 (13.9%)
  • By Confession: Muslims 1,772,187 (58.92%) Christians: 1,130,055. I will try to get the numbers by sects, but here they are sorted in decreasing order:
    1. Sunni
    2. Shia
    3. Maronite
    4. Greek Orthodox
    5. Druze
    6. Greek Catholics
    7. Armenian Orthodox
    8. "Minorities"
    9. Alewites
    10. Armenian Catholics
    11. Protestants

90 years ...

As some of you know, I am half Armenian. Yes, that adds another cause to my list. The Armenian Genocide.

The Armenian Genocide started on April 24th, 1915 and last for several years. Approximately 1 800 000 Armenians were killed. This genocide was the first of it's kind and many believe if the Turks were punished at the time, then Hitler would have never tried to get rid of the Polish or the Jews. A crime unpunished, is a crime encouraged. Hitler even mentioned this is once; he said if no one remembers the Armenians, who would remember the polish?

90 years have gone by and all we ask is for Turkey to recognise the genocide... I also ask for Turkey to return the invaded land to Armenia and to stop destroying Armenian landmarks.

I just finished watching a documentary called, "Armenians of Lebanon." This film tracked the start of the genocide and how the Armenians travelled from Armenian to areas in Syrian and Lebanon showing how they had developed in those areas. I found it of real interest to me.

I have also tried my best not to add gruesome pictures since a lot of you have been complaining about my pictures....

God why, why god, so many dead.
'No Genocide' they say.
Death has spread its cold black breath,
Onto thousands and thousands,
Kids, elderly, men, women.
Humans like animals slain.
Their corpses, in their homes, in deserts and fields.
Rivers of Armenia have turned red.
What was their guilt to deserve such a horrific fate?
Their nationality or religion?

Babies killed innocence still in their eyes,
Separated from their mothers,
Who are raped and killed by Ottoman soldiers.
Many threw themselves into rivers not to give their body.
Many starved to death in deserts.
Many heroes fell in a fight for survival.
All around pyramids of corpses. 1.5 million lives lost.
And in this dark hour, when day turned into night,
When light disappeared from sky,
Innocence, happiness faded into pain, grief, and revenge.
A day became nightmare, life turned into hell.
On this day of April 24, 1915.
And they still say ‘No Genocide',
but we shall never forget.
They wanted to kill one nation in one day.
And when? In the doorstep of 20th century.
And right in front of the civilized world.
Cry Armenia for your sons and daughters,
For their souls still wait for justice after 90 years.


How-to: Lebanese Cabinet!

Want to build a Lebanese Cabinet? Read about it here!


Massacre in Sanctuary; Eyewitness

The Qana Massacre took place on April 18, 1996 in the headquarters of the Fijian battalion of UNIFIL, located in the small town of Qana, in southern Lebanon.

The compound came under a heavy artillery shelling by the M-109A2 155 mm guns of a nearby Israeli Defense Forces unit in response to two rocket and mortar attacks launched earlier that day (towards the unit) from nearby the compound. As a result of the shelling, 102 civilians died and more were wounded, many of them women and children, and the compound was seriously damaged.

Most of the casualties were residents of nearby villages, which sought refuge in the United Nations compound from the fierce battle going on between the IDF and Hizballah, during Operation Grapes of Wrath. Four UN troops were also wounded.

Israel immediately expressed regret for the loss of innocent lives, saying that the UN compound was not the intended target of the shelling, but that it was hit "due to incorrect targeting based on erroneous data."

The UN investigated the incident in detail, concluding "while the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, the pattern of impacts in the Qana area makes it unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors".

A video recording made by a UNIFIL soldier showed an Israeli unmanned observation drone in the vicinity at the time of the shelling. The leaking of the recording caused considerable embarrassment to Israel, which had repeatedly denied the presence of a drone.

On Monday, 9 years would have passed since this horrendous event. Israel still occupies the Shebaa farms in Lebanon and still flies over Lebanese skies whenever it wishes.

-Israel never paid a compensation to the families of the killed and the injured for the great human loss and the huge material damage caused over the many years of continuous aggression on Lebanon.

- For many years, hundreds of Lebanese civilians suffered from vicious ways of torturing by the I.O.F. in many concentration camps in Khiam (Occupied Zone) and in Adlit (Northern Israel).

- Israel never "willfully" implemented a single United Nations Resolution (UNR), nor was forced by the International Community to comply with the UNRs and thus remains in defiance and keeps getting away with it.

- The South of Lebanon is Israel's testing

I have decided to post Robert Fisk's article to the Independent about what he saw in Qana on the 18th of April, 1996.

By Robert Fisk
The Independent, 4/19/96

Qana, southern Lebanon - It was a massacre. Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this. The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their hands or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disembowelled. There were well over a hundred of them. A baby lay without a head. The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world's protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.

In front of a burning building of the UN's Fijian battalion headquarters, a girl held a corpse in her arms, the body of a grey- haired man whose eyes were staring at her, and she rocked the corpse back and forth in her arms, keening and weeping and crying the same words over and over: "My father, my father." A Fijian UN soldier stood amid a sea of bodies and, without saying a word, held aloft the body of a headless child.

"The Israelis have just told us they'll stop shelling the area", a UN soldier said, shaking with anger. "Are we supposed to thank them?" In the remains of a burning building - the conference room of the Fijian UN headquarters - a pile of corpses was burning. The roof had crashed in flames onto their bodies, cremating them in front of my eyes. When I walked towards them, I slipped on a human hand...

Israel's slaughter of civilians in this terrible 10-day offensive - 206 by last night - has been so cavalier, so ferocious, that not a Lebanese will forgive this massacre. There had been the ambulance attacked on Saturday, the sisters killed in Yohmor the day before, the 2-year-old girl decapitated by an Israeli missile four days ago. And earlier yesterday, the Israelis had slaughtered a family of 12 - the youngest was a four- day-old baby - when Israeli helicopter pilots fired missiles into their home.

Shortly afterwards, three Israeli jets dropped bombs only 250 metres from a UN convoy on which I was travelling, blasting a house 30 feet into the air in front of my eyes. Travelling back to Beirut to file my report on the Qana massacre to the Independent last night, I found two Israeli gunboats firing at the civilian cars on the river bridge north of Sidon.

Every foreign army comes to grief in Lebanon. The Sabra and Chatila massacre of Palestinians by Israel's militia allies in 1982 doomed Israel's 1982 invasion. Now the Israelis are stained again by the bloodbath at Qana, the scruffy little Lebanese hill town where the Lebanese believe Jesus turned water into wine.

The Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres may now wish to end this war. But the Hizbollah are not likely to let him. Israel is back in the Lebanese quagmire. Nor will the Arab world forget yesterday'a terrible scenes.

The blood of all the refugees ran quite literally in streams from the shell-smashed UN compound restaurant in which the Shiite Muslims from the hill villages of southern Lebanon - who had heeded Israel's order to leave their homes - had pathetically sought shelter. Fijian and French soldiers heaved another group of dead - they lay with their arms tightly wrapped around each other - into blankets.

A French UN trooper muttered oaths to himself as he opened a bag in which he was dropping feet, fingers, pieces of people's arms. And as we walked through this obscenity, a swarm of people burst into the compound. They had driven in wild convoys down from Tyre and began to pull the blankets off the mutilated corpses of their mothers and sons and daughters and to shriek "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great") and to threaten the UN troops.

We had suddenly become not UN troops and journalists but Westerners, Israel's allies, an object of hatred and venom. One bearded man with fierce eyes stared at us, his face dark with fury. "You are Americans", he screamed at us. "Americans are dogs. You did this. Americans are dogs."

President Bill Clinton has allied himself with Israel in its war against "terrorism" and the Lebanese, in their grief, had not forgotten this. Israel's official expression of sorrow was rubbing salt in their wounds. "I would like to be made into a bomb and blow myself up amid the Israelis", one old man said.

As for the Hizbollah, which has repeatedly promised that Israelis will pay for their killing of Lebanese civilians, its revenge cannot be long in coming. Operation Grapes of Wrath may then turn out then to be all too aptly named.



3o years ago, on this day, April 13th 1975, the war ignited in Lebanon.
I have thought about this post a lot this week. I really wanted to write about it to inform people about the damage the 15 year civil war had caused and how Lebanon has spent 15 years struggling to rebuild itself and to maintain peace.

I don't want to talk about politics in this post.

I went to live in Lebanon in 1997 to get a university education there. I spent 5 years learning about my country and loving every part of it. I used to visit Lebanon regularly ever since I was a child but living there is nothing like visiting it. Even though, most of the political parties couldn't agree or accept each other....some wouldn't even respect each other...life went on peacefully, meaning it was a peaceful place to live in for a regular individual and tourists were flocking in bigger numbers each year. My history with Lebanon is really brief yetI really got affected today when I was watching a documentary on Future TV about the war. I have watched films about it before and yet I still get affected. Today more than ever as a result of all the events within the past 59 days.

I remember October 13th, 1990 very clearly. This was the day the war ended. It seemed so hard to believe, even for a 10 year old who didn't live there throughout the war and didn't see any real war images. I remember not being able to absorb the idea. How can the war end? War has always existed in Lebanon...at least it had existed since I was born. I remember going out on that date and still saw checkpoints and sandbags and thought to myself... if the war is over why are these still around? I didn't know how long it would take for the country to get back on its feet.

I visited downtown Beirut for the first time in 1991. I can't even begin to desribe the images in my mind of the destruction. I remember visiting the Martyrs Statue and my dad trying to explain to me what the statue represents.. It was really rusty and full of bullet holes. I remember mom and dad trying to figure out what some of the buildings were before the war. It seemed like they had a hard time figuring things out.

continue reading : Rampurple

في ذكرى الحرب اللبنانيّة

غريب إنّو يمرق هالنهار وما نحكي شي. أو يمكن الغريب إنّو نحكي؟ ما بعرف. بس هول تلاتين سنة، يعني مش قلال. يعني قصّة جيل. يعني حياة ناس انكتبت بغير طريقة، وأشيا كتيرة كبرنا عليها من نحنا وصغار.

في كتير ناس خايفين علينا نرجع تلاتين سنة لوَرا. قال شو، خايفين إنّو نحنا، بإرادتنا، نسكن بملاجىء، وننام عصوت القذايف، ونضل حاملين كلاكيشنا ومهجّرين من بيت لبيت. صراحة، غريب إنّو يكون في إنسان طبيعي بهل دني، يختار يمشي بهل طريق. وكيف إذا كان ماشي فيها من قبل، وعارف قدّيش فيها جُوَر، وعارف إنّو بالآخِر رح توصّله عالهاوية؟

مبارح، ببرنامج "شوف الفرق وما تفرّق" (حلقة مسابقات، تنظّمت لأوّل مرّة، جمعت كل الطّوائف اللبنانيّة، لمعرفة قدّيش اللبناني بيعرف الآخَر يلّي من غير طايفته)، كانت الحصيلة إنّو العيّنة الموجودة جاوبت عن 86% من الأسئلة صحّ. يعني هالقدّ منعرف بعضنا، وهالقدّ فايتين بتفاصيل بعض، وهالقدّ متشابكين، بشي طريقة ما بعرف كيف هيّ، مع بعض.
فإذاً عشو خايفين؟ وعشو كل هالخبريّات يلي عم بيطْلَعولْنا فيها؟ وليش ضروري نلبس الطّقم يلّي فصّلولنا ياه؟

أنا كنت صغيرة أيّام الحرب. خْلِقت، ولقيتن عم يتحاربوا. مش على الدّين، لأ. ولا لأنّو كل واحد فيهم بدّو ربّه يربح. هيك، حشرونا بالنّص، وقالولنا اصطفلوا. معهم، كانت الطّاحونة بعيدة، وكلّ الطرق يلي بتوصّل عليها أصلاً مقطوعة.
واليوم، بنهار 13 نيسان 2005، مش راح طالب إنّو كلّ اللبنانيّي يختاروا درب واحدة عالطّاحون. بالعكس، بدّي إذكر لكم 18 طريق لبنانيّة مختلفة. بكل بساطة، لأنّو التّنويع أحلى بكتير:

أرمينية غريغوريّة، أرمينيّة كاثوليكيّة، إسرائيليّة، إسماعيليّة، أشوريّة، إنجيليّة، درزيّة، روم أرثوذكس، سريانيّة أرثوذكسيّة، سريانيّة كاثوليكيّة، سنيّة، شيعيّة جعفريّة، علويّة، قبطيّة أرثوذكسيّة، كاثوليكيّة ملكيّة، كلدانيّة، لاتينيّة، مارونيّة.


Downtown Rebirth!

Indeed Eve, Khay!

Here is a link to pics I took of the night of the launch


from Alanwar
Downtown is returning to life!


Celebrating Insanity



Celebrating Lebanon!

Activities are endless in Lebanon from 8 to 13 April 2005. If you're not doing anything on Saturday (even if you are!), consider the following:

All day activities:
- "Walk in Rafic Hariri's footsteps" Maarad Street
- Photo exhibition by Ayman Trawi. Maarad Street
- Exhibition: "In memory of what we have lost... may we remember all that we have forgotten" by Rosy Abdallah. City Center
- Exhibition: "Once upon a spring" by Annahar. Martyrs square tent
- "Guided cycling tour of solidere area & ATV mini arena" by Beirut by bike. Planet Discovery parking
- "Furniture design & exhibition" by Bokja textile design (till April 13th) Saifi Village
- "Paint 4 peace" with Kiki Bokassa (Allages). Planet Discovery
- Kite workshop- Ciel et vent with Sami Sayegh- Planet Discovery
- "Li-naqraa ma'an"
Story title Rainbow, read by Fadia Tannir (Age 4-8 yrs, language: Arabic) Planet Discovery
- "Children's Choir of Beirut"
Conducted by Noha Hatem (Age 5-12 yrs, languages: Arabic, French) Planet Discovery
- Exhibition "Designer's craft"
Beirut Association for Social Development. Saifi Village
- "Maya Hajjar fun tennis" (All ages)
Tennis courts, Saifi Village
- "Rally-Beirut" by Bike Cycling
- "Karate games" Sporting Club
- "Hand ball game" Hand Ball Union Al Sadaka Club
- Exhibition "Lebanese artisans"
Uruguay & Argentine Streets (till April 17th)
- Marionettes "Tine et Zbib singing for peace" by Nayla Khayat (Age 2-7 yrs, language: French) Planet Discovery
- Marionettes "Tine et Zbib singing for peace" by Nayla Khayat (Age 2-7 yrs, language: French) Planet Discovery
- "Launching of the safe kitchen for domestic safety promotion" by YASA & LFPC (All ages) Planet Discovery
- Installation "Cautions calm" by Hussein Sawli. City Center
- "Wrestling game" by Wrestling Union. Nadi al saha wa al kouwa
- Theatre "Charachir bi madinat al assafir" by ND Louaize theatre club (age 6-11 yrs, Language: Arabic) Planet Discovery
- "Kick boxing" Shogun Club
- Concert "Walid Toufic" Masrah al rabita al sakafiah- Tripoli
- "Declaration of life" Dinner. Municipality of Beirut. All Down Town District

P.S. If anyone wants to know about the whole program for the following days, please tell me and I will gladly email it. Don't forget about NATION DAY on Sunday (including the "United We Run" Marathon at 9h00), FUTURE & HOPE DAY on Monday, DAY OF PEACE on Tuesday, and CELEBRATION DAY on Wednesday. Enjoy.


To Her, Eight Years And A Month Later, On Her Birthday

I have never forgotten yet your touch on my cheek,
I am not ready to let go.

Your memory is still on my mind,
Before I go to sleep after I wake up,
Your face is still there, smiling, looking at me.

You know, I wish I could hold you like before,
Feel the warmth of your body holding me, but I can't.
I am stuck here in this world and you are up there flying.

I guess that all wishes don't come true, but Mother,
I wish that just for a moment I could hold and kiss you.


Our lives as Lebanese

We're all alike. I guess. Across generations, continents, and cultures, certain traits, habits or experiences don't change. Others define certain generations, or cultures. Sadly, not all these experiences are nice ones. Nevertheless, we learn as best we can from them, and move on.

A friend of mine in Lebanon sent me a link to this online questionnaire she had posted about herself. I started answering the questions, some I knew, others I had an inkling about, and others still I guessed. One question sang, from among the throng of 'what's my favorite color?' 'what's my favorite food?' 'what car do I drive?'...

"How many car bombs have been set off near my house?"

continued here...


John Paul II ! We Love You!

May his soul rest in peace.

John Paul II
1920 - 2005

There's so much one can say about him which makes it difficult to say anything at all.

Robert Fisk interview

Check out his interview on 31 March by Flashpoints Radio. Go here to see all of the last month of his articles...or to download the interview. Cheers, Lim.


They've done it again

Another explosion. This time in Broumana. Preliminary reports say it was in the parking of Rizk Plaza.

No details are available to me at this time. I will update as soon as I find anything out.

update: Eyewitness reports claim that the bomb resulted in extensive damage and several casualties.