Saturday, October 20, 2012

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The Achrafieh Bombing: a Sad Incident and an Even Sadder Reaction


I wish it didn’t have to get to such a tragic event for me to return to posting on this blog. Friday October 19th, 2012, a horrific terrorist attack shook Sassine Square in Achrafieh, Beirut, and all its neighbouring areas during rush hour (around 02:30pm). The blast, caused by a car bomb parked in the street, caused massive damage to the cars and the buildings in the vicinity; but worst of all were human casualties: 8 dead and more than 100 injured.

A couple of hours into this national blow, Lebanon learned that this cowardly attack had targeted the convoy of Internal Security Forces Information Branch chief Wissam al-Hassan, and had resulted in his death.

This scene was a deja-vu to all of us. A series of political assassinations that took place four years ago had a similar beginning to what we have witnessed today. A number of highly respectable MPs were killed during these bombings; a state of constant fear reigned over this doomed country; and despite those attacks having stopped a few months later, Lebanon stepped into a period of instability and economic stagnation which still cripples our country today.

During their coverage of the incident, the media was communicating irresponsible accusations uttered by different Lebanese politicians—mainly from the March 14 coalition—who, instead of conveying a peaceful message, were pointing fingers at the parties whom they believe are behind this attack. Even though one can sympathise with their situation—the assassinated figures were all from this coalition, however we have learned the hard way, from previous similar situations, that such behaviour causes terrible counter-effects in the form of violent street demonstrations carried out by angry mobs expressing their rage by burning tires and vandalizing.

Burning Tires Lebanon

Following the announcement of the death of Chief Wissam al-Hassan, many TV stations began reporting acts of violence all over the country: tire-burning in one place, shootings in an other, and road-blocking. On hearing these messages, I couldn’t but curse out loud. A wave of disgust overwhelmed me. What is becoming of this country? Are we heading toward total anarchy? Corruption, politics, and secularism have become a malignant cancer, slowly eating Lebanon from the inside out.

Violence, murder, rape, theft, public property vandalism, and now terrorism have become more frequent and more damaging than what we were used to in the past. It seemed lately as if any event, regardless of its gravity, is apt to light up the short fuse of depraved rioters—followers of a certain political leader.

These gullible members of society are not be the root of all that evil, but their damaging conduct fuels the terrorist machine that threat our own existence on a daily basis. Today’s violent reactions to an already horrible incident made me realize how worse our situation have become

A viable explanation of the above increasingly degrading situation came up in a conversation with my fiancée today (and it is the reason why I’m blogging about this in the first place).

The unstable situation in Lebanon, both in terms of internal security and worsening economic conditions, has been the major drive behind the ever-increasing number of Lebanese expatriates who keep on deserting this country in search for work abroad. This economically and socially detrimental process has significant consequences on the demography of Lebanon.

The majority of those who leave the country on a daily basis are educated young Men and Women, holders of a university degree, and who would otherwise waste their credentials by surrendering to the domestic low-paying job market.

The high demand for fresh graduates has attracted the learned slice of our young workforce. Less and less of our productive working party is now being represented by educated youth; instead the generation on which the country relies on to build the future is being overstocked with the unqualified, the illiterate and violent street thugs.

Once viewed from this perspective, the sad reality we live in today becomes justified. How do we expect to move forward and overcome the social and economic barriers put in place for us by the plague-ridden regional politics and the international agendas that dictate our destiny in this disaster-prone part of the map? I understand that we are facing a difficult multi-layered problem; however, we must not ignore these fundamental social and economic issues which are the pillars a healthy country builds on. Today, the footprint of  “good” people is still considerably visible, but will it always be if we continue on the same path of ignorance? Maybe the next time I’m voting I should stop for a second and remember #Achrafieh #Sassine.

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