Feb 26, 2013

Turmoil Beneath the Ashes

What happened with me this morning was another proof to me personally that the renowned Orthodox Electoral Law was nothing but an obvious manifestation of the local mentality most of the Lebanese are still holding on to, unknowingly, especially the previous generation, the ones that were my age during civil war.

In the course of looking for a housing in Beirut, I came across an online advertisement for a small apartment in Ashrafiyeh with two bedrooms, which is generally my preference since that would cheapen the rent and of course I'd enjoy the company. That phone call left me traumatized for a while after I hung up: the weight of the shock was actually insurmountable, especially after all the reforms people I know are trying to make, and of course after all the positive energy me myself and other activists are trying to spread. I just couldn't stand that someone, that naive, would actually ask me such a question.
I leave you with the discussion:

"Me: Hello, I just found your number for an apartment in Ashrafiyeh
Woman: Yes, it is true *sends her children away so she could speak on the phone*
(We discuss the lame usual details)
Me: Ok so I will call you tonight or tomorrow max to come check it
Woman: I can't make sure it will remain available, so many are asking about it.
Me: tab what's the address?
Woman: somewhere in ashrafiyeh bla bla, the whole building is ours, just ask for Mr. X's bldg.
Me: um, okay, basically we are two guys, an engineer and a journalist looking for a place. If it's okay with you I will....
Woman: I'm sorry, *lowers her tone* are you two christian?
Me: What the??? Lek ma a7leha!
Woman: *stutters* but, it's a normal question
Me: for god's sake it's NOT a normal question! we're in the 2013 and after all we've been through you still got the nerve to ask me this?
Woman: you have to understand the surrounding here
Me: I don't care about your logic, I am a human, a person. why would you care about my religion?
Woman: *always stuttering* we don't mind other people, we just prefer christian people
Me: Shut up please. *hangs up*"

The above story was immediately posted on my Facebook profile, people instantly started reacting in a manner that resembled a lot to mine, a sign that the majority of us young people have had enough with the sectarian game that's still being backed by people such as this poor woman.

What really triggered my fury was not only the clear racism she was hiding behind, what really REALLY pushed my buttons was that, if I weren't a christian as she was wondering, I would so simply be an "other" to her. Whether the person on the other end of the line from her was Buddha, an angel, a reputable doctor or a renowned actor: you are an "other" until you are a christian. I am damn sure as well that even if I happened to reply with a yes on her question, she might most probably try to fetch if I were a Maronite or an Armenian, because, it's a normal question after all, isn't it?

Taken during the Anti Orthodox Law protest in Downtown - Beirut, Feb 19th 2013 
On the other hand, a friend shared with me her story, very much similar to what I faced over the phone. The landlord, a woman, approached my friend, one of two tenants in her apartment, to ask her whether she and her roommate were christian or not. She replied with a yes regarding herself, but made sure to mention that her roommate was of another sect. The woman's reaction at the time was not an indicator of how she would treat the roommate in the future, and how my friend's boyfriend, best friend and muslim neighbors had to withstand her unbearable harassment whenever the woman wanted. My friend reported two specific cases where her roommate was teased, only for being of the Druze sect, and how she brushed it off with a laughter in order to hide the sarcasm and even worse, the blind discrimination. When her half sunni-half shiaa boyfriend came along to pay a visit, he got his own share of nuisance from the woman as well, ended up by letting it go to avoid any turbulence or scenery that might take place.

I personally am aware that people of all sects are constantly doing this, whether Muslim, Christian, or whatever sect there ever existed.

Where are we heading to? I'm addressing both women and everyone who takes pride in making fun of the "others", of mocking those who are different from their personal identity. I apologize if I made them look bad, if I showed these two in the figure of cruel racists whose only goal is to get hold of the country. I feel bad for everyone still stuck in that vortex. Such people are only victims of war, of a repressing system, of mutual benefits and a good living that only see the light whenever they sell their souls to the demon; victims of a never-ending fantasy of a well established country overcome with the greed of whoever becomes a leader.

What is the answer then? How to solve this? I'm afraid it's not as easy at it sounds, all we need to do is being  a living change, a flowing river, becoming saints, and leaving an impact wherever we step foot.

I leave you with the fruit of other fellow friends' dream, such videos have managed to overcome some of the nuisance the infamous Orthodox Electoral Law had been causing.


  1. I started reading the post just for fun. The story of the phone call was entertaining, but I suddenly completely focused my attention when the woman asked for the your religion.

    I did not feel angry or pissed or happy. I felt sad.
    It is sad to know that we live among this kind of people....


    Oh btw, you found an appartment after all? XD

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