Monthly Archives: December 2006

Sectarianism, Indibat, and Much More

So Aoun the “secular” has finally said what his grand plan is, has been all along: correcting the sectarian balance after it was shifted against the Christians. He clearly said: that is all there is to it, nothing more, nothing less. He also said that this should not cause any worries amongst the Sunnis or Druze or Shi’a. Dear Lebanese, I hope you will enjoy your General’s secularism.

Today I went down town to check out the mood there. There was supposed to be a student gathering at 3 pm, and I was down there around 1 pm, and stayed until 2:30 pm. It was unusually calm, and there were significantly less “indibat” (crowd control) guys around. Around 2 pm people started flooding in; I was walking around when, all of a sudden, 2 guys appeared out of nowhere in front of me (a distance of 2 meters), and were at each other’s throats. I had my camera ready to take a shot but hesitated to, as I thought the indibat guys who appeared in a matter of seconds, would not like it. What amused me was that however much the people standing around tried to control one of the guys, he would not calm down, until the indibat guy appeared. There were actually 2 of them, and it took only 2 seconds for one of them to bring the situation under control. 1 look was all that was required. The indibat guy wasn’t even using his hands to restrain. He stood right in front of the guy, and gave him one look, one really cold, scarily calm, but very piercing look. And the situation was under control.

Moving on, a woman probably in her late 50s approached me, asking me where STARCO was. Hmm, good question. :) I have been to STARCO a great many times; it is actually home to the Ministry of Administrative Reform Reversal. But I could not, for the life of me, orient myself at that instant. I told her it’s probably quite a long (unwalkable) distance. She then asked me if I was not from Beirut; I told her I was not (well I don’t live in Beirut), and told her where I came from; she said, “welcome, welcome.” She then said that she was from the Beqa’a but she lived in the south. I really love the fact that so many people from different walks of life and different backgrounds are interacting like this (outside of party politics and discussions); I know many people who have not met anyone outside of Beirut or Mount Lebanon; in some areas, if a veiled woman is spotted (I know, I know, I speak the language of witchhunts), people go wondering, hmm, what is she doing here? Here where? Here, here in Marounistan, oh yes indeed in Aounistan (I repeat myself). But, to inject some positivism into it, I have been spotting some curiosity among the crowds, from people of all ages, veiled or not, bearded or not. But sometimes it gets you wondering, why are they looking at me like that? Is my hair sticking up or something? Today they got me wondering. Seriously.

And on the 7th day…

 

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… the awham are still holed up in the grand serail.

More pictures from Friday’s gathering inside.

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The Awham (Illusions) holed up in Serail

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Fatfat, Siniora, & co. holed up in the serail.

Enjoy your majority, dear Fatfat & co. I personally prefer … tea.

More photos inside.

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Why we love Fatfat

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My favourite sentence of the year:
“O Fatfat, o tough guy, one coffee, one tea.”
(notice the Lipton teabags!)

I went down to check out the tents and atmosphere, and eventually made it there (after being stopped by a dozen army officers telling me I cannot go from this street or that, and telling me to take the next street… and moving on to the next street and finding nothing but barbed wire and, well, army officers…). There were hundreds of tents, people of all ages and backgrounds, street vendors, picnickers, argileh-smokers, school kids with their teachers, flag sellers, media crew (I was asked to be interviewed by Al-Manar TV, but declined for a simple reason – although I would’ve loved to bash Sa’ad el Hariri & Future TV while at it – I hate being on TV. But I think I regret not having taken up the offer. sigh). I was amazed by how friendly people were, whether they were non-bearded or *gasp* bearded (you know, the ones you call “terrorists”). The first tent I passed by, I got called up and the people sitting inside said, please please take our picture. I said… OK… I wasn’t sure what else to say. I mean, when someone says take my picture I presume they want me to actually send it to them (??). But no, these people just wanted to have their pics taken. So I took their pics. A funny incident, among many: One (bearded, if it matters) guy from a group whose picture I was asked to take, kept asking me questions. How old are you? What’s your name? (I didn’t tell him of course), and then concluded, “I hope you will find a good husband”….. ok… But to get them excited, I said, when they asked me who I was with (one of the guys said: “I feel you are with Siniora”…), “I’m with HezbAllah”. A chorus of loud (very loud) cheers went up as soon as I said that.

Moving on, another group asked me to take their picture. We had a little chat, then off to the “communist” section. These people had taken up the area under the bridge and had put up flags and pictures of Che Guevara. I wonder, do they actually know what Marxism and communism stand for? I did not ask them, I was just not in that frame of mind to initiate such a discussion. Then there was a huge commotion, and I went to check out what it was. It turned out that they were school kids (aged around 12-13) on a “school trip”, chanting “Abu Hadi” (Hadi is Hassan Nasrallah’s son who was martyred, and Abu Hadi means Father of Hadi) and slogans against Siniora.

I didn’t mention all the parties that had set up tents. For example, the Karameh picnickers were still sound asleep (???). One of the tents had an interesting sentence spray-painted on it: “el-karameh aghla men el-mel” (Dignity is more expensive than money).

Overall, FPM had the biggest presence there, along with HezbAllah. I got the impression that these people are here to stay for as long as it takes.

Off to drink some tea.

The foooooooool revolution

OK, so we went down to the street, and it was packed, and diverse, and yeah I loved the sound effects and music… but seriously, “national unity government”? Come on. Let us get real, what is this “national unity” government supposed to be about? “You’re thieves but we’re OK with joining hands with you to ‘build’ Lebanon if you give us our share [based on what? sects?]“? …. no thanks. But hey, as long as you can topple this government all the more power to you.

There were some witty slogans, can’t remember all of them unfortunately.

I shall call this revolution… the fooooool revolution (no pun intended). Although I would’ve prefered if this were called the hummus revolution and the other one (the cedar or potato or hummus revolution) the foooooooool revolution, ‘cos you know, nothing can beat hummus. Not even falafel (apparently Israel’s “national snack”). OK OK maybe baba ghannouj (eggplant dip) comes close to beating it, but still, hummus > baba ghannouj. Hummus with pickles… OK… OK… let me go wave my flag.

But one thing is for sure, Siniora is toast. And toast does not go well with hummus. You might disagree but I beg to differ.