Posted by: G-AZZI | November 23, 2010

Independence day …

The dictionary defines the word independence as “the state or quality of being independent; freedom from the influence, control, or determination of another or others.”

Are we, the Lebanese people, free?  The concept of freedom, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and which Lebanon has signed – is violated in Lebanon, daily.

Below are only a few examples of what we face as Lebanese citizens:

UDHR says: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy.

Our penal code has a list of articles that are intended to control your private life. Extramarital sex, sleeping with someone of the same sex, and concubinage are still illegal in Lebanon. Despite the fact that these laws are generally not reinforced, their mere presence is a constant threat to people who do not abide by the imposed social norms.

Even marriage and divorce are regulated by religious laws (the law deals with you differently depending on which religious sect you were born into), laws that we have no say in, really. These laws are imposed on you depending on your father’s religion, and they cannot be questioned or criticized. There is not one Lebanese person who has full control over his/her private life.

UDHR says: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.

Women, who constitute more than half of the Lebanese population, do not have the same rights as men to this day. Women are still under the control of a patriarchal system that deprives them of any protection against violence or harassment they are faced with. If a woman is raped by a man, and he offers his hand in marriage to compensate for his offense, all charges against him are dropped if she agrees to marry him – and many do, for matters of honour. Then of course, there are the sexist police practices against women who report any kind of violence they have been subject to by men in their family: the women are merely returned home; they are their fathers’ or husbands’ properties (depending on marital status). The law protecting women against domestic violence has not yet passed in the Lebanese parliament.

Here is something that is the complete opposite of the law applied in many civilized countries: women do not even have the basic right to give the nationality to their children and husbands.

LGBT people are criminalized under article 534 of the penal code of Lebanon; they have no protection against the daily violence, discrimination, blackmailing and harassment they face daily.

Women and GBT people are oppressed.

Women and GBT people are not independent.

Women and GBT people represent more than 60% of the Lebanese population.

If you are a Lebanese citizen and were a victim of some form of abuse and want to report it, you need to be able to afford a forensic medical examiner which usually costs between $200 and $300 USD. (Note: USD $300 is the minimum wage in Lebanon.)

UDHR says: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Our government has appointed someone, whose salary comes out of our tax money, to control what books we read, what music we listen to and what movies (or parts of movies) we watch.

General Security officers, who generally have little educational or cultural backgrounds, and are influenced by the Muslim and Christian religious leaders review all books, magazines, and movies before they are made available to the public, cutting and banning whatever might offend “public morality.”

 

On the 22nd of November, 2010, as the Lebanese government celebrates the 67th year of “Independence” post the French mandate, I want to salute all those I personally believe are national heroes:

–          All women (activists or not) who are struggling daily against our system and who refuse to be submissive to unfair laws.

–          LGBT people who are coming out to their surroundings, creating spaces for the community, and reclaiming their rightful places Lebanese citizens, who are no different than anyone else.

–        Secular people calling for a clear separation between religion and the state

–       Artists , directors, writer  overcoming censorship..

 

Thank you for giving me the hope that one day we will actually be able to celebrate a real Independence Day.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for such a great piece

  2. Thanx for sharing your thoughts, I completely agree with you!

  3. Hei,

    Great blog..BUT you’re restricting my freedom by not enabling Share/Like buttons that do not require me to be a WordPress kiddo 🙂
    “Just one more step to like this post” walla? “Not a member yet? Sign up with WordPress.com” em..

    So please do.
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-to-any/

    this is not an advertisement. i’m serious –
    again, thanks for the blog

    take care

    • thank you raafat for your post i will try to figure out how this works and do it. thank you again for the recommendation

  4. I would have to say that it is a beautiful courageous and free piece ! It just suits the occasion and reminds all of us that we have to continuously fight for our independence and freedom to attain it. I agree with Prime Minister , Saad Hariri, when he recently said that “the pen is the most powerful weapon” ! Through our journalists, writers, directors, artists we can win our pursuit for freedom and make it come true. Thank you George Azzi for having a critical eye !


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