Martyrs’ Sacrificed Even in Death

A martyr is generally someone who is deeply attached to a cause, belief or faith and is willing to sacrifice for the sake of it. A true martyr does not even shy away from death, the ultimate sacrifice, to protect and propagate  whatever it is they believe in. Within the context of this very simple definition, it may already dawn on you the number of times and ways the word martyr has been used, misused and certainly abused in Lebanon and the Arab region. Not every person killed is a martyr, because not every person has a cause or is killed because of it. Not dying a martyr doesn’t make a death any less tragic, it’s just that not every human being that is killed is and should be considered a martyr.

I bring this up because today is Martyr’s Day in Lebanon. On a day like this in 1916, Ottoman ruler Jamal Pasha, known as the Butcher, ordered the execution of Lebanese (and Syrian) nationalists seeking the help of the French to free their land from Ottoman rule. I doubt many people can name all 13 who were executed in what is now Martyrs’ Square, which is another feature many martyrs have in common, anonymity. They’re like real soldiers sometimes, most people don’t know their names and will never see their faces, but know they did something noble, for the sake of a higher cause.

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I bring this up because today is supposed to be a national holiday to celebrate our martyrs, those from 1916 and from earlier and later years, those known and unknown, including press martyrs who played a part in forming and safeguarding the place we now call Lebanon. Unfortunately, the national holiday was cancelled, by a certain Prime Minister Fouad Siniora during his tenure (2005-2009). The fact that I do not recall the reason given to cancel the holiday is probably the biggest proof that it was a petty one. Whether Martyr’s Day was sacrificed (no pun intended) no reduce overall holidays, replace it with another holiday, or cancel it at the expense of keeping the Christian/Muslim holiday balance is irrelevant. It just needs to be reinstated if this country has any respect for itself and those who died for it.

It saddens me deeply to believe that cancelling this holiday may have come at the expense of installing a new one, that of February 14 for the so-called Rafik Hariri Memorial Day instead.  The day former Prime Minister Hariri was assassinated, the so-called martyr of Lebanon, has thus been immortalized, set in stone at the expense of all other patriots for no reason whatsoever. This isn’t about being with or against Hariri, his policies, vision or legacy, because as he used to say, Lebanon is bigger than anybody (even Hariri himself). This is about correcting an error and the slight misunderstanding that Hariri and his kind hold dear, that Beirut and Lebanon’s history started with them, and before them little is worth mentioning or preserving.  Therefore, for whoever considers Hariri a martyr, let him also be remembered on May 6 like all the others. And for those who don’t, he will be respectfully remembered as yet another politician with the misfortune of being tragically assassinated in a country that fails to provide justice to its people.

Our martyrs are sacrificed, even in death…

Posted in Arab World, Lebanese Politics, Lebanon, Martyrs Day, May 6 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ՀԱՅՈՑ ՑԵՂԱՍՊԱՆՈՒԹՅԱՆ 100-րդ ՏԱՐԵԼԻՑ

Armenian Genocide Centennial

“In the implementation of its scheme to settle the Armenian Question through annihilation of the Armenian race, the Turkish government did not allow itself to be distracted.” – Paul Wolff-Metternich, German [Turkey’s ally at the time] Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1915–1916).

“Unfortunately, our wartime leaders, imbued with a spirit of brigandage, carried out the law of deportation in a manner that could surpass the proclivities of the most bloodthirsty bandits. They decided to exterminate the Armenians, and they did exterminate them.” – Mustafa Arif Bey, Interior Minister of the Ottoman Empire (1917–1918).

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What Went Wrong in Libya? Everything.

Whether it is the rule of militias, the rising influence of the Islamic State (IS – Daesh) or the tragic fate of migrants fleeing the scourge of war off its coast, Libya is once again in the international headlines. Then again, Libya has always been newsworthy, but there always seems to be something else overshadowing it. Continue reading

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40 Years Later…

Today is the day we remember our war (1975-1990), the one we swore not to forget so that it would never happen again (تنذكر وما تنعاد). But just like everything else in Lebanon, the more things change the more they stay the same. Whatever we said about the war, the lessons learned and chances of it happening again, still stand today, as they stood yesterday and will stand for the decade to come. I read through what I wrote last year – April 13: How can we not forget?  – (which you are welcome to read today too) and I would not change a single word of it now. Continue reading

Posted in April 13, Arab World, Beirut, Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese Politics, Lebanon, Middle East, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

…أنا كإمرأة

Note: This is the Arabic translation of As a Woman, posted on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2015. The translation also appeared in Al Rawaby newspaper. The celebration ended, but the need to keep on fighting for our rights remains throughout the year…

ملاحظة : هذه هي الترجمة العربية لمقالة As a Woman  التي نشرت في يوم المرأة العالمي. هذه المقالة قد نشرت في جريدة الروابي في زحلة في 26-03-2015. الاحتفال انتهى ولكن الحاجة إلى النضال من أجل حقوقنا تبقى كل السنة…   Continue reading

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March 14 and the Myth of the Cedar Revolution

If March 14 2005 would happen again, I would be exactly where I was – in the middle of the chanting and exuberant crowds in Martyrs’ Square – when it all happened.  It was history and I was part of it, along with thousands of others who gathered there. Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Arab Revolution, Arab World, Beirut, Cedar Revolution, Lebanese Politics, Lebanon, March 14, March 8, Syria | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

As a Woman…

As a woman, I’ve always been unsure as to what I am required to do on International Women’s Day. Take to the streets in song and dance, post a series of pictures displaying the best of my ‘womanness’ (however that may be) or perhaps wear a quaint little dress to receive well-wishers over a cup of coffee and sweets of my own making. Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Arab World, Human Rights, International Women's Day, Lebanon, Women | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments