Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wacko of the Day #3 – Saying “Merry Christmas” is Worse Than Murder

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Human Being or an alien, you’re out of luck this holiday season. Don’t expect any warm wishes from your fellow Muslims.

The reason for that, according to a Muslim cleric, is that wishing someone “Merry Christmas” is considered a sin much more serious than murder. To find out why, watch our Wacko friend—below—explain his fatwa.

PS: For this issue of “Wacko of the Day” I had two nominees; and trust it was a very hard decision, since both shared the same level of idiocy. So I decided to include the other video(the second one) as well in this post.





Thursday, December 22, 2011 by Eli ·


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wacko of the Day #2 – Bryan Fischer

So much buzz surrounded the sad death of the great Christopher Hitchens. From the controversial Twitter Hashtag #GodIsNotGreat—which reached the top ten trending topics, but was removed after complains from christian users—to the many blog posts related to the subject, different sentiments were expressed. However, one video stood out from the lot, which compelled me to write this post.

Hence, today’s “Wako of the Day” title goes to Bryan Fischer, host of the radio show “Focal Point” on American Family Radio—and complete pinhead. In the video below he claims the late Christopher Hitchens was sent to hell by god as a demonstration of his love for him.

Listen to his argument in the video below; and once you do, I’m sure will understand the reason I chose him as today’s WOTD!


Sunday, December 18, 2011 by Eli ·


Dawkins on Darwin: A Documentary Screening At Masrah Beirut

276576_289784021058177_328683024_nLast Saturday, CLAFA (Coalition of Lebanese Atheists, Freethinkers and Agnostics) announced a special event, which I believe is going to be a great step forward for all Lebanese free-thinkers. On Monday 26 December, 2011, a screening of a Documentary by the Richard Dawkins Foundation titled “Dawkins on Darwin” will take place at 07:30pm at Masrah Beirut in Ain el Mraisseh, Beirut. A half-hour introduction on Evolution, by Dr Riyad Sadek—Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Herpetology at the American University of Beirut—will precede the screening; and a Q&A open discussion session will follow it. The guys at CLAFA will conclude the evening with the announcement of their new website

I encourage you all to attend this wonderful event—which by the way is free of charge. Try to make it early; the seats are limited, and seating will be on a first come first seated basis.

As an atheist and free-thinker I would like to see more events like this in the future.  Check back on the 26th to find out how it all went—I will also have some pictures posted.


by Eli ·


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Farewell Great Voice of Reason


Less than a month ago, I finished reading Christopher Hitchens’ (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) memoir “Hitch-22”. Even though I had always been a great fan, after reading his autobiography I felt some sort of connection to him, especially after reading about his experiences in Lebanon.

Learning about his death, last Thursday, felt like loosing a close relative and I great mentor. Nothing would ever express the sadness of loosing such a great voice of reason. Farewell dear Christopher Hitchens… Your words will live on forever, but you will be missed!

Saturday, December 17, 2011 by Eli ·


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wacko of the Day #1

Out of all types of stupidity my favourite is definitely that which seems to be a common trait of all overzealous religious wackjobs. My choice for the first “Wacko of the Day” post belongs to this group of lunatics: Dr. Zakir Naik. Holder of a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, but who doesn’t practice medicine; instead he is a public defender of Islam, who wants to spread his religion throughout the world by preaching--using unbelievable idiotic arguments--that Islam is the only true religion.

I’ve listened to and read hundreds of arguments from different religious zealots, but this guys is something else! You can’t listen to his arguments without having a “what-the-fuck” look on your face (seriously, that is the only way I can describe it).

To see what I mean, and to understand the level of absurdity and madness which earned him the first “Wacko of the Day” title, all you have to do is listen to him speak in any of the videos below!



Thursday, December 15, 2011 by Eli ·


A New Segment: “Wacko of the Day”

It’s been a long time since I last  published anything on FTL, and I terribly miss doing so. I’ve been wanting to get back to blogging, but somehow i couldn’t find the time. However, I hope I’ll be able to write at least one post per week.

Anyway, now that I’m back I have a new idea for the blog;  I’m going to start a new segment called “Wacko of the Day"—I don’t think there’s any need to explain  what it will be about. I believe that, along with the “Fatwa of the Day” segment, this new section would hopefully bring back the pulse of this blog.

by Eli ·


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Car Crashes Into Wardieh Pharmacy; Almost Running Over My Friend.

This was shot off the monitor of the security cameras of Al-Wardieh Pharmacy in Beirut Lebanon on 12 July 2011.

After midnight, while my buddy mahmoud K. (pharmacist) was walking out the door of the pharmacy, this car slid off the main road after getting into an accident and then hit the pharmacy's main entrance and display, barely missing Mahmoud(you can see him jump away once he sees the car coming straight to him).. Nice reflex buddy!



Wednesday, July 13, 2011 by Eli ·


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cannabis: The Word on The Lebanese Street

Interested in cannabis?

Soft Secrets UK travel reporter 'The Professor' took a recent trip to Lebanon to investigate the local hash cultures... You can find the article in UK Issue 3 (pp 31/32)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011 by Unknown ·


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Beirut Montage: Political Street Art

It may not be the most colourful or artistic street art in the world, but it packs a strong political punch. Frustrated, angry, desperate, funny, informed and profound, this is a montage of Beirut street art circa May 2011.

A sprayed and barbed wire wall around the AUB; loads of graff around here. The fact that knowledge and learning needs to be kept behind a military-style wall says a lot about the city.

Pure vandalism that begs to be photographed.

"Wake Up and DreAm" Anarchism - look it up if you aren't clued up.

Owls: They see in the dark, a common metaphore for people who understand truth in times of propaganda saturation and widespread misinformation.

A dig at sports fans I think - sports being a major tool of distraction as far as some people are concerned.

Beirut would be better if... Society was looking after this woman a little better. She might not have to sit on the street all day every day trying to sell gum for pennies.

The owls are everywhere...

Thursday, May 26, 2011 by Unknown ·


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lebanon: A Magnified Ray Of Humanity

Imagine the sum total of humanity – all of our religions and rebellions, our wealth and poverty, guns and love; our sex and celibacy, philosophies and knowledge, sciences and superstitions; our arts and our ignorances, our laughter and tears. Then imagine that sum total embodied as our Sun and all of our power being focused througha magnifying glass into a concentrated point of intensity. This point of intensity is Lebanon.

For such a full spectrum of human diversity to be represented on such a small pieceof land is truly mindboggling. It’s no wonder that so many of the Lebanese youth, especially Beirutis, are turning away from their parents conservative sectarian values and looking for a pressure release in drugs and hedonism. This is never the answer though.

The current social, political and economic upheavals of the Middle East and the world in general are expressions of the war between the old and the new; the fight

of people against power; poverty against wealth; liberty against repression; reason against religion, and knowledge against ignorance. This war has been brought about by two main dynamics - a rampant increase in the world’s population which has been facilitated by our exploitation of oil, and rapid advances in technology which has quickened the pace of relative time and allowed previously monopolized scientific knowledge to become accessible to the common individual.

When analysing the population issue it is clear to see that we cannot continue on our present course of growth and consumption. Old norms need to be challenged; our behaviour needs to change if we are to avoid a species apocalypse. We need to stop consuming the produce of our environment so quickly and thoughtlessly. We need to invest our thoughts and energies in peace and cooperation, not war and conflict. We need to invest our sciences and technologies in renewable, sustainable and clean energies. We need to value education over wealth. There’s a lot we need to do.

Rapid advances in technology have quickened the pace of relative time by speeding up the movement of, most importantly, people, ideas, knowledge and decisions.This means that time really is flying by – more and more things are happening in a shorter period of time, and this is a constant acceleration. Older generations who choose not to interact with new technologies and knowledge are becoming distanced from their children faster than any parents have become distanced from their children at any time in history. This distancing can be seen in the fracturing of societies around the world, the widening gulf in values, ideals and philosophies between generations. This is not to say that the younger generation will automatically produce enlightened leaders that will be able to pull humanity out of its self-created nightmare though; power is inherited and institutionalised – we need to break down the institutions of power that pitch man against man, and man against his environment. We need to revolutionise the institutions in which we operate before we can make any true progress towards enlightened living.

So, back to Lebanon, and another analogy. We’re living in pressure-cooker days and Lebanon can be seen as a valve on a pressure cooker. Emotions are going to become increasingly strained; the war of light against dark, new against old, etc etc, is going to be magnified in and around the borders of Lebanon. The Lebanese youth need to be prepared stand up for peace and social justice. They need to be the change they want to see in the world. They are already strong.

Knowledge really is power, it is also liberating, but with knowledge, power and libertycomes responsibility.


Restless Ed

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by Eli ·


Friday, May 20, 2011

A Simple Meaning To Life

Every now and then, during a conversation with someone who had just found out that I am an atheist, I find myself having to answer the same question: “What is the point of living if you do not believe in anything supernatural such as God or the eternal soul?”

To some, my answer sounds somewhat poetic and even lame; but to others, especially to those who don’t mind being honest about their own emotions, it sounds convincing. To me it is simple truth.

What I would say in reply to this question is that “Love” is all you need to have meaning in your life. The love I have toward my friends offers me a feeling of security and belonging. That which I feel toward my family gives me a very powerful reason to take care of them, and to make sure they are as happy as they make me feel. They have been taking care of me beyond the age at which anyone except to be taken care of by his or her own parents. This love sets a goal for me, to try and offer the same safety-net to my own children.
Besides your family and friends the love that will give you a true purpose to your own existence is that which you share with a special someone; for me it is a special girl—Thee—with whom I wish to spend every second of my life with. Even though, this sounds like a cheesy romance flick, to me it is as real as the keys I’m typing those letters with.

All I can say is that I’m a billion times better-off finding purpose and meaning in my tangible lame life than to base it on a myth that would only serve as an entertaining literary classic, better stacked in one’s library next to Homer’s The Odyssey and The Iliad.


Note to Thee: Cheers beebz! If the other 99% are as nice as half the 1%, it would be amazing!

Friday, May 20, 2011 by Eli ·


Friday, May 6, 2011

A Pantomime of Reality: Beware the New Unreligion

There’s a reason that our traditional institutions and religions are crumbling; it’s because they are no longer relevant!’

Bill Hicks

It is clear for any visitor to see that there is a major cultural and religious clash being played out within and around the borders of Lebanon; Christian icons dot the local landscape whilst mosques and churches compete for grandeur in her cities. Arab Christians mingle freely with Caucasian Muslims, the ‘Army of God’ prepares for war with the Zionist behemoth on its southern flank whilst the Lebanese government forever lurches from crisis to crisis. It is no wonder that the youth of Lebanon is questioning the values of its older generations.

Lebanese youth must beware the void though. The new unreligion of the western world is shooting its roots into Lebanese society faster than anywhere I’ve ever seen before; her highways, the veins of the country, are littered with billboards appealing to the narcissism of the new consumption generation. The beaches of Beirut are polluted by steroid-pumped egos that strut and flex their grotesque forms in a bizarre ritual of worship to themselves. Dolly-bird women caked in their war paint sit like shop mannequins in the passenger seats of absurdly expensive look-at-me vehicles…

The transparent irrelevance of the world’s modern institutions and religions has left self-worshipping consumption as the new unreligion being promoted by our corporate slave-masters; we are becoming a parody of ourselves, a hollow pantomime of reality, as we fall into this trap of spiritual emptiness and synthetic aestheticism.

So, how many anarchists does it take to change a light bulb? None, the light bulb must change itself.

Friday, May 6, 2011 by Unknown ·


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fatwa of the Day #10

Breastfeeding-icon-medFor those of you who enjoyed my previous “Fatwa of the day” posts, I’m sure you are going to love this one. This Fatwa revolves, once again, around the issue of breastfeeding.

Back in 1974, a Fatwa was issued by the Egyptian Dar Al-Ifta (Arabic for Home of Fatwa Issuing) in response to following inquiry:

A man was wondering whether he is allowed to marry a women whom his grandmother had breastfed almost 40 times, back when she was a baby (as you will see below, the number of times—here 40—is very important).

Dar al-Ifta, issued a Fatwa in response to this inquiry (you can read the arabic version here). The verdict was as follows:

When a woman breastfeeds a baby not her own, and she does it more than five times, that baby is considered her child. He or she become a sibling to her own children.
Hence, in the case above, the inquirer is not allowed to marry the woman who breastfed from his grandma. She is an aunt to him per breastfeeding; and marrying your aunt is forbidden!

There are literally hundreds of Fatwas concerning the issue of breastfeeding that you can read about on the Dar al-Ifta website (the texts are in Arabic). One other Fatwa, in particular, caught my eye. It says that if two people are already married, a similar discovery to the case above—the partner had breastfed from the mother or grandmother of the other—the marriage must be annulled! Can you imagine the consequences?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011 by Eli ·


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Lebanon

I’m sure many of you have heard the following statement:
”We are still in a better position than the other middle-eastern counties. At least we don’t have a revolution in Lebanon!”
Honestly, I wish we had a revolution going on. At least, we would be calling for a change. But what are we doing instead? Nothing! And what can we do? Again, nothing!

I’m being pessimistic I know. But whom of us folks, currently living in this country, isn’t? I would love to meet them, get closer to them, raise my hand as if to shake theirs, then slap them across the face instead; then I would tell them to wake up!

What kind of future is my country offering me? The bleakest one possible. I have completely lost faith in the system. I challenge anyone to offer a single positive attribute of being a Lebanese citizen. This is the first time that I sadly say: fuck patriotism, when the country I should be patriotic about offers me nothing except depression, fear and insecurity.

I know many have already blogged about the terrible situation in Lebanon. But, that didn’t stop me from adding my voice to theirs. I have reached a level of loathing for my country, so high that I really can’t shut up about it anymore.

Suprisingly enough, there are still many who believe that Lebanon is an amazing country. Since this is a subjective thing, I cannot refute it; however, I will try to convince you with simple facts that those people are not living on the same planet as the rest of us.

The following are statements we’ve all heard—and sometimes uttered ourselves—which the Lebanese tend to say whenever they are trying to convince others, like foreigners for example, about the greatness of this country. Here’s what I think about each one of them:

-“We have a moderate climate in Lebanon. Winters are mildly cold, and summers are perfectly warm.”

As I write this post, with the month of May a couple of days away, it’s raining like crazy outside! Yesterday, howling winds were so strong that you had to be careful while driving not to be hit by a flying cardboard box(I wasn’t that careful).
Every single year, you hear elderly people say how much they miss the old days when we used to have four distinct seasons.
In my opinion, the above statement should say instead:
”We have crazy random weather in Lebanon. Winters are freezing and never come at the same time; summers are terribly humid and suffocating, and tend to stay forever.”

-“In Lebanon, one minute you could be skiing in the mountains, and in less than twenty minutes you could drive down to the beach.”

Traffic in LebanonThose who claim so are either incredibly naive or they are referring to the days when people travelled on the backs of donkeys.
Have you ever tried to drive down from Faraya to Beirut during the skiing season? You’d be lucky to make it under three hours.

Traffic has become unbearable in Lebanon—not only from Faraya to Beirut—but everywhere. The roads were designed to handle much less traffic(I’m not sure designed is an apropriate word for roads in Lebanon). And yet, a huge number of imported cars are crossing the border every month; while old obsolete cars are turned into public transportation. Just imagine the traffic jams we would be stuck in sometime in the future.
So, instead of the above claim I would say:
”Lebanon is the only country in the world where if you were to walk to walk to your destination you would arrive much sooner than if you were to drive there.”

-“Lebanese are extremely smart and witty; it’s in our genes. Many of the world’s leading people are of Lebanese origins.”

I can relate to one part of this claim. I lived in the United States of America for almost two years. I have noticed that we Lebanese are street-smart. I believe this is due to the difficulty of living in Lebanon. Because of the lack of facilitations and social services, we learn to do everything ourselves.
I agree that Lebanese people possess knowledge in many fields. However, when it comes to mastering one of these fields, I can’t point to any advantages for being Lebanese. In other words, we are a bunch of novice know-it-alls.

nassim taleb portraitThe part which I disagree with is the claim that “many of the world’s leading people are of Lebanese origins.” First of all, I wish there were any statistics that support this. I’m not saying that none of these successful people have a Lebanese heritage; however, most of the former folks aren’t.

An apropriate quote would be one said by David Hume, and which Nassim N. Taleb, a famous Lebanese American philosopher, have titled his book after:
“No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion.”

In my opinion, instead of the above claim a more adequate one would be:
”Lebanese immigrants are extremely smart and witty; they leave Lebanon as soon as they realize they are special”


I can go on forever refuting similar attempts to single out the qualities of Lebanon; instead, I will list some of negative aspects of this country:

A perpetual financial crisis; hugely expensive—as well as terrible—ectricity and telecommunication services; The worst internet connection in the world—or shall I say Ontornet; never ending political instability; a serious case of stagflation; a huge public debt to GDP ratio; high rate of unemployment; very low wages compared to prices; a marriage between religion and politics; transparent political corruption; and even an unpredictable weather, unacceptable traffic jams, and a highly naive population (for the last three I’m being ironic).

In conclusion, I would like to respond with the following to those who proudly say “We are still in a better position than the other middle-eastern countries. At least we don’t have a revolution in Lebanon!” There are two simple reasons why we are not undergoing a revolution in Lebanon: The first reason being the fact that we don’t have a distinct ideology against which to protest; but rather, we would have to rally against the whole Lebanese culture. The second reason is the fact that even if we succeeded in forming a protest, against which party would we rally? In other words, no one is offering a solution which we could on which we can base our demands; we simply have no replacement to the current situation.

Saturday, April 30, 2011 by Eli ·


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Questions, Language and Interpretation

The post-modern world is increasingly about questions, language and interpretations… What do Christians mean when they talk about God? What do Muslims mean when they talk about Allah? Obviously not all Christians understand ‘God’ in the same way, just as there must be differing interpretations of ‘Allah’ within Islam…

Does Atheism mean a lack of spirituality? Is it a rigid rejection of all forms of organised collective spirituality? Is it a rebellion against religious parents? Or, is it a dismissing and rejection of the irreconcilable squabbles between opposing religions and religious factions?

Are atheists anarchists by default? Or, are there branches of positivist atheism?

Are there any statistics on Lebanese atheism?

How does atheism relate to communism? Is there a place for an atheist political platform in Lebanon? As an atheist, do you accept that people have a right to believe in their particular religion?

I loathe to pigeon-hole myself, but if I had to I’d say “I’m anarchist”. I don’t believe in the Christian idea of God as “the Creator”, I’m not sure what the dominant interpretation of “Allah” is within Islam. Some of the most generous people I know are deeply religious. I don’t agree with them but I accept their choice to have faith in something they’ll never know to be correct or not…

Is there a ‘greater force’ that connects us all? Could one apply the word ‘God’ to the Universe itself? God as the creation, not the creator? I am the proud wearer of a pagan Celtic cross tattoo – a cross that shows the physical elements of water, earth, air and fire working together to create the 5th element, which is consciousness.

Are religions merely crude doctrines that were necessary for organising societies in times of scientific ignorance? Or, were religions always used by the social elites to control the masses ‘beneath’ them?

Maybe you know the answers to some of these questions, or have strong opinions on what the answers should be… One thing is for sure though, whatever our opinions are in the realms of God and religion all they can ever be is just that – opinions. The whole God/Religion thing is totally improvable, which is why I like the response Buddha had to the question ‘Is there a God?’, he is said to have replied ‘Who, on earth, can answer that question?’ Don’t you dare try and call me Buddhist though!

Saturday, April 23, 2011 by Unknown ·


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Two New Writers Join Free Thinking Lebanon

Today, a week after announcing that Free Thinking Lebanon is looking for new writers, I’m glad to welcome two new bloggers to the team: Diana and Ed.

We have received quite a few emails in reply to the request we have put out. Both Ed an Dania’s emails caught my attention. I’m not going to publish their biographies (they might want to tell you about it themselves); nevertheless, I can tell you that both of them are very passionate writers, and have past experience in writing articles for blogs.

We are certain Diana and Ed will be a great addition to the team. Their solid style and openness, as well as their passion for writing about Lebanon will be an added value for this blog.

It would be great if you can join us in giving them a warm welcome. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the enthusiasm.

PS: We are still accepting application. If you would like to join the team check out this post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 by Eli ·


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Writers Needed


Next month marks the first anniversary of Free Thinking Lebanon. Amongst the few changes I’ve been considering is the addition of new blood to the team, in order to diversify the topics on this blog.

As of today, if you are passionate writer, and would like to contribute to Free Thinking Lebanon, I would be happy to hear from you. In order to apply please follow the instructions below:


Send the following information to

- A brief note about yourself

- Which topics are you interested in writing about (preferably related to Lebanon and/or Middle East)

- In what language you would like to write (English, Arabic or French)

- Whether you have previous blogging experience (which blogs?)

- If you have any articles/poems/reports/reviews written by you, it would be nice if you could include a link.


Once I receive your application I will try to reply as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to apply even if you haven’t published any material on the internet before. As long as you are interested in sharing your thoughts, and are capable of finding the words to express it, we would be happy to have you.


Update: Some people have been asking me whether this is a paid job; no it is not. Those who will be joining the team will actually be contributing simply for the love of writing and expression.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by Eli ·


Monday, April 11, 2011

“Paul” A Comedy With An Atheistic Twist

Paul-2011-Movie-PosterWhen I saw the poster of the movie “Paul” at the movie theatre (left) I said to myself “meh, another children’s movie with an alien”. Sifting through the pages of IMDB I came upon this title which displayed a decent rating that led me to read more about it.

The info on IMDB got me interested in seeing this movie. I called my girlfriend—she makes my movie experience a lot more beautiful, and told her we’re going to see a comedy tonight. Up until the opening scene I had mixed expectations. Amazingly though, for the whole 104 minutes Thee and I couldn’t stop laughing. The plot was very interesting and smooth—very fast paced.


Ruth Buggs: The world is 4000 years old and can only be the product of intelligent design.
Paul: [offscreen in the bathroom] That's horseshit!


However, being a funny comedy is not the reason I’m writing this post. The actual thing that hugely surprised me is the very obvious atheistic message embedded in the script. It wasn’t a sublime message or a passing comment, it was really a straightforward message.

Besides the fact that I enjoyed this original twist, what intrigued me most was how come this was showing in Lebanese theatres when it has such a strong anti-theistic—anti-Christian more specifically—message. Could it be that freedom of expression is being given more room to swivel in? Or are the people at the media censorship department clueless of this fact? Either way, I’m glad I saw this movie. I highly recommend it!

Monday, April 11, 2011 by Eli ·


The Cube: A Lebanese Book Review Blog

The CubeBeing a book lover myself, I was very happy to stumble upon The Cube: a Lebanese community of readers discussing and reviewing books.

I haven’t had the time to delve into all the reviews yet, but I plan to.I really find it nice to learn what other fellow Lebanese are reading; actually the mere fact that they are reading is great: reading books is not an interesting activity for youngsters in Lebanon.

I can’t wait to submit my own reviews. Keep up the great work, and hopefully our government will be similarly encouraged and increases the number of public libraries we have.

by Eli ·


The Lebanese National Anthem Is Actually Not Lebanese

A couple of days ago, while stuck in traffic—a daily activity we Lebanese have come to enjoy, my girlfriend and I were discussing how terrible the situation in Lebanon has become. Even though in terms of people’s uprising we haven’t had our share—compared to Egypt, Libya, Tunisia etc.— still our political and economicis worsening day after day.

Zeina was telling me how she no longer possesses that famous patriotic and nostalgic feeling toward Lebanon. She remembered how when she used to hear the national anthem she would sometimes get shivers down her spine; but that was before. Now when she listens to it she is only reminded of the pessimistic future this country promises.

Well Thee, here’s a little something for you to be more proud of our national anthem—or maybe not.

The following video shows a news report from New TV claiming that the Lebanese National Anthem is not our own; it is a plagiarized identical copy of a Moroccan anthem.. This is really sad!

by Eli ·


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Internet In Lebanon: The Worst In The World

For the past two weeks I’ve been jumping from one Lebanese skiing resort to another—between Faraya and the Cedars. On those occasions I got to stay for a couple of days at the best hotels in either location. As a skiing-enthusiast and an good skier, I really enjoyed the trips. Also being with my lovely girlfriend, Zeina (a.k.a “Thee”), and teaching her how to ski, turned ordinary skiing trips to the best ones I’ve ever had.

e5473_cedars-lebanonDuring all that time, access to an internet connection was not possible, except on my last trip. Last Monday my family and I stayed at the Officers Club in the Cedars, which is one of the best hotels in that region. The place was very nice—everything from the rooms, the food, room service, house keeping, and the overall hospitality were top-notch. And what made the place even better was the fact that there was free wireless internet connection—especially since “Thee” did not accompany me on that trip.

imagesAfter unpacking my stuff, and giving the place a quick look, I turned-on my laptop and launched Firefox. Usually when I do that at home, my homepage—Google—loads in less than a second. Over at the hotel it took almost A MINUTE! Yes, believe it or not the GOOGLE homepage took almost 60 seconds to load. I said to myself this is normal. A lot of guests must be logged in, and the bandwidth is being shared by all of them. Also, since in Lebanon internet connections are very primitive—still in the range from 128 kbps to 1 Mbps—it was normal to have such a slow access to the web. The connection was so tedious that I tried to download a random file from the ne,t and the download speed maxed at 0.7 KBs(this is not a typo, the speed was LESS THAN 1 KILOBYTE PER SECOND!) I switched off my laptop in desperation, and decided to wait until after midnight, when most guests would be asleep, in order to use the internet.

Around 2:00am that night I gave it another shot; and guess what? The connection was even worse; no page could be accessed in less than a couple minutes. I decided to run a bandwidth speed test just for the hell of it. I ran the test using the website Besides the terrible results I got—4.1 Kilobits per second—the test revealed an additional sad fact regarding internet connections in Lebanon.



In brief, internet in Lebanon, in terms of download speed, is the worst in the world! The download speed of internet connections in Lebanon ranks 185th on a list of 185 countries. As for the upload speed, we rank 184th!

I’ve always known that our internet connection is pretty bad. However, I’ve never really imagined that we could be the worst in the world. Also if you consider the pricing of the packages offered by the Lebanese ISPs the matter gets even more pathetic—I’m not going to write about the pricing issue of internet connections in Lebanon because I believe it deserves a post all by itself.

When will Lebanon acquire a respectable internet infrastructure, nobody knows. I believe the ISPs are the only ones with the answer. and as long as they’re profiting from this monopoly, I’m certain Lebanon will still be lurking in the 185 for quite some time.


Saturday, February 19, 2011 by Eli ·


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Twitter in Lebanon

FollowLebanonI’ve been using Twitter (@Eli_FTL) for almost a year; and until last month most of my friends, followers, and people I follow were not Lebanese. Last January, I started to stumble upon blogs of fellow Lebanese bloggers which  I really enjoy reading today. I had always wondered why there aren’t many Lebanese Tweeps around; it appeared that I wasn’t looking very well, and that their numbers are growing everyday.

I started following a couple interesting Lebanese tweeps which themselves pointed me towards others. However, I would really love to follow and be followed by many more Lebanese Twitter users. For this reason I am proposing a Twitter hashtag #FollowLebanon for all Lebanese tweeps to use in order to point to folks they know from Lebanon, and at the same time follow this hashtag in order to meet new tweeps.

I am calling all Lebanese Tweeps, who are reading this, to post at least one Twitter update with the hashtag #FollowLebanon, including the Lebanese Tweeps they know. Also it would be helpful if you could include them in the comments to this post as well.

I will start this, hopefully trendy hashtag, with a post of mine. So please start following #FollowLebanon, and help building a bigger, and well connected Lebanese community on Twitter.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 by Eli ·


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Syrian Day of Anger Limited to Facebook

(This is a follow-up post to “Will the Revolution Reach Syria?”)


Post 2Friday’s headlines and tweets were packed with highly emotional news on the latest protests in Tahrir square dubbed “departure day”. However, nothing significant was being reported on the demonstrations that were supposed to take place in Syria that same day—around 15:00. According to many Syrians, tweeting live from their country, the unanswered calls of the “day of anger” echoed in the empty streets of Damascus; the Syrian anti-government protests were limited to the virtual world—Facebook.

Since the main focus of the media was Tahrir square, I had a hard time following-up on the what was happening in Syria. I was able, however, to stay up-to-date via the two hashtags #Syria and #Feb5.

I have gathered a list of links to the only worth-mentioning news snippets related to the “failed” Syrian demonstrations:

- Possible internet cut-offs in Syria:

- Syria blocks Facebook:

- Security was tightened in Syria in fear of contagious riots:

- Photo of empty square, where demos were supposed to take place:

- Human Rights Watch urge Syria to free activist who called for demos:

- Syrian supporters of Egyptian demos were assaulted by gang:

You can follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest news on Lebanon and the Middle-Eastern region.

Saturday, February 5, 2011 by Eli ·


Friday, February 4, 2011

Will the Revolution Reach Syria?

Whether you’ve turned on your TV in the past couple weeks, read the papers, or been on any online media website, you are certainly informed, then, about the grim situation in the Middle-East: anti-government demonstrations have been going on for almost a month, with more countries joining this contagious pan-Arabic revolution every day.


.Having its birth in Tunisia, in December 2010, through what was dubbed the “Jasmine Revolution”, this epidemic of protests against dictators of the Arab world was successful in infecting several other Middle-Eastern and North-African countries: Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Algeria, Sudan, Oman, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Djibouti, and Mauritania (read this article for brief descriptions of the uprisings in each different country)

 (Text continues after video)


One more country seems to be on the waiting list: Syria. While Egyptians were crowding Tahrir square during last Tuesday’s “million man march”, the Facebook page ”The Syrian Revolution 2011” was gathering thousands of supporters. The page calls for a “day of anger” to take place, today, Friday February 4, after prayer time in all Syria. So in less than 24 hours, we’ll know whether this call will be answered by the oppressed Syrian populace, or whether they will decide to avoid another terrible February, that of 29 years ago.

sy01_06aIn February 1982, history recorded one of the most atrocious massacres in the Arab world: the Hama Uprising. The Syrian army exterminated more than 40,000 people—members of the Muslim Brotherhood. For a devastating three weeks, the town of Hama was bombarded by 12,000 soldiers. Using air and ground attacks—jet-fighters, tanks, artillery, ground infantry—the town of Hama was pulverized, and the “infidels”—men, women and children—were all executed in cold-blood. The government of Hafez el Asad, the father of Bashar the current president, intended to send a very clear message to all the Syrians: not even a tiny complaint—against the ruling government—shall be tolerated! And his message has been keeping the people’s mouths shut during all these years.

The question remains whether the people have reached their breaking point; and if so will they be able to overcome their dire memory of February 3, 1982, and raise their voices on February 4, 2011?


After submitting this post, I stumbled upon the following video, released recently by Mamoun Homsi, a former Syrian MP who was imprisoned by the government for politically opposing the ruling party. Below it is the English translation of his public address to all the Syrian, to join forces in the revolution against tyranny and oppression in Syria.
To be honest though, the video is a bit funny. However, you can’t deny that it is somewhat impressive to watch someone uttering a direct opposition to the Syrian government after so many years of oppressed silence.

English translation by

Oh, great people of Syria
Oh, gentleman, scholars and clerics of Syria
Your country and your people are calling out for your conscience
Stand by your young men and your young ladies
Those that aim at supporting the Syrian opposition
To start the Jasmine Revolution
And to face the unjust and oppressing dictatorship
Rise for your dignity
Rise for your own living
Say no to corruption
No to deprivation
Say we want life
Walk out of the mosques and churches
And walk together hand in hand
From the different religions and affiliations
Arab, Kurds, Assyrians
Hold up the nation’s flag
Say altogether
Down with the dictatorship
Down with the dictatorship
Long live Syria
Long Live Syria
Long Live Syria



Photo Sources:
-Protests in Egypt -
-Damaged Hama in 1982 - http://

Friday, February 4, 2011 by Eli ·


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brainwashing in Islam: A Jihadist Video

Yesterday, while going through my Twitter haystack, I came upon this video below titled “The Army Of Imam Al Mahdi”. It plays a documentary-like clip about a jihadist boot-camp in Afghanistan. It consists of a series of clips showing the training sessions done by the soldiers of Imam Al Mahdi—jidadists.



I’ve watched quite a lot of videos similar to this one before; it wasn’t  new to me. They are mainly filmed for promoting these Jihadist “schools”. In other words, they want to attract young and naive Muslims to join them, and they do so by showing how professional and advanced their training techniques are: they use “cool” combat manoeuvres, and fire powerful machine-guns.

This type of advertising is one of the many highly effective brainwashing techniques used by Muslim extremists. I have a little story that proves how effective they are.

The clip played a couple Jihadist songs—anthems—in the background of the video. These songs are in Arabic, and they encourage Muslims to fight, kill, sacrifice themselves, and join the jihadist armies, by claiming it is the duty of each Muslim, according to the Koran. The songs include a lot of repeating and emphasis.

Now what happened to me was the following. While watching this clip. last night, I thought to myself the tunes of the songs played in the background are really catchy. However, I didn’t realize how catchy they really are until this very morning: I woke up today, and ironically I was humming the tune—and some of the words—of one of these songs! I mean I only heard it once, and there I was singing it in my head, the very next day. I was really surprised, and so I said to myself “I am going to write about it tonight!”

Sunday, January 30, 2011 by Eli ·


Monday, January 24, 2011

Fatwa of the Day #9

Ladies, if you are considering converting to Islam—a decision I encourage you to make; for all the advantages you gain from being a woman in Islam—I recommend you read the following Fatwa which will make you think twice before visiting your beauty parlor again.

As always, the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta (Arabic for the “Home of Fatwa Issuing”), succeeded at making me shake my head in disbelief and laugh at the same time.
The following inquiry was submitted to their website urging them to advise on this extremely critical matter:

The Question: Is plucking one’s eyebrows considered a sin for Muslim women?

The Answer(s):

- According to one group of scholars: YES, IT IS DEFINETELY A SIN! Plucking one’s eyebrows and/or the eyebrows of another woman is absolutely prohibited in Islam. In order to back this ruling, Dr. Ali Goma Mohammed, the wise Muslim scholar who responds to these important questions—in the form of Fatwas, refers to the following saying in the Hadith:

Allah curses the women who perform tattoos, get tattos, the women who pluck the eybrows of others, and those women who get their eyebrows plucked, and part their teeth for adornment, who change Allah’s creation.

- the other group advocates for the following: If a woman is unmarried she is prohibited from plucking her eyebrows. On the other hand a married woman is permitted to do so on the conditions that her husband gives her permission, and that she does it for adornment purposes only (i.e. she plucks her eyebrows to make herself prettier and more attractive to her husband).

frida by iris schwartz

Having read that, I believe that unmarried young Muslim women who are going to remain celibate for quite some time, and who dislike their bushy eyebrows should simply get used to it. And who knows, maybe one day “unibrowness” might become the next fashion sensation!


Monday, January 24, 2011 by Eli ·


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