Independent Spaces in Lebanon

Do we really have independent, non-political, undefined spaces in Lebanon?

I don't think so.

Zico House is the closest place in Lebanon to an open space for free debate and artistic promotion.

Everything else is left in the shadows.

Do we live in fear?


Part of it is fear of the government. We can't speak our minds freely, even though Syria is gone. However, it's much better than before where one couldn't even distribute a flier with the word Syria on it without being arrested.

There is fear of being arrested for public expression. Night clubs are ransacked by the police. Independent groups worry that members of state security watch their activities.

There is the fear of shaming the family. The thing that restricts many people the most is the family finding out.

There are excellent art galleries (like Sfeir-Semler), and excellent performance spaces in Monnot and on Hamra. But these spaces are few and far between.

I've had too many friends leave to the freedom of The Netherlands, Germany, England, and New York. Most left for employment, but many left for the political and social freedoms available there. It's far easier to go to Qatar or Saudi, but why go to a place more restrictive than Lebanon, if that matters to you?

I'm feeling restricted right now.


At Saturday, December 03, 2005 11:48:00 PM, Blogger carine said...

LP, you're on a roll-- posts on three different blogs in one day!

despite everything you cite, lebanon is still the least-restricted place in the arab world. a lot of that is due to the efforts of people who were either unwilling or unable to leave (or those who left, but were unwilling to forget), and devoted themselves to making the most of the country. one has to decide whether or not lebanon is something worth fighting for.

people leave lebanon so readily, it almost feels like quitting. the diaspora is shamefully underconnected to the country, though this is the fault of the government as much as anyone. i hope the dynamic will change; it needs to change.

to me, lebanon has always seemed like an essentially free place under excessive, unneccessary restriction. there is tremendous potential.

i'm sorry you feel so restricted, that's an awful position to be in. maybe what you need most is a short vacation... :)

At Sunday, December 04, 2005 9:19:00 PM, Blogger Maldoror said...

So you are restricted. What are you going to do about it? Quit?!


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