The Country Has Fallen

I just came back from a great trip to Istanbul, where I experienced a rude awakening for the state of my country, and how far we have been set back. It was an eye opening experience that reinforced what I had already known. The battle is lost.

It was the most beautiful few days. I saw the glorious Islamic and Turkish history. I saw the bizarre, slightly surreal, and absolutely captivating juxtaposition of East and West. One minute it feels like London, but turn a corner and you’ve reached Greece, or Abu Dhabi, or Berlin. Mosques will call out for prayer while you wander these streets, and it all feels oddly balanced. It was everything I had dreamt for my country. A melange of our history, our religions, our progress, our future, all meshing together wonderfully.

In all its beauty, it was also a seriously demoralizing trip. Walking around this functional, excellently planned, successful city, I saw a model of what we could have been. A modern, civilized, functional, (and yes, Muslim), state with a developed infrastructure – and a developed democracy. The Turkish nationalist pride is overwhelming, but unlike our unjustified superiority complex, it is valid. Unhappy with Erdogan’s policies, they took to the streets. They understand and internalize democratic choice, and their foundation for all this is their sincere pride and faith in their country’s potential.

Slap in the face #1.

Slap #2 came in the form of checking in with home to catch up on some news. Apparently, as I had left the country all hell broke loose. Sheikh Ahmad Al Assir had declared war on the country. The army lost 18 soldiers. This was our Ain El Remmene bus and I could feel my stomach churn at the thought. War was inevitable.

A fantastic 30 minute documentary ( by the guys over at Shi NN (A popular satire show on Al Jadeed TV) put it nicely: “سقط البلد” / The country has fallen.

And fallen it has. We are left with extremists all around; Shiaa, Sunni, Christian. We are left with an unconstitutional parliament. We are left with a country whose institutions torture and abuse its prisoners, suspects, and citizens.

But save for a few heroes like those Shi NN guys, we don’t speak up much. The apathy has evolved into downright fear. I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.

I want to criticize the army, and the ISF, and the parliament, and president and all the wretched power holders. I wanted to say let’s run into the streets, let us change, down with all armed groups, all militias, all your pathetic excuses of political decision makers. But if you do say what you want to, you would risk being held for questioning, being targeted, being bullied. You would be subjected to hate crimes,  or hate speech. Just last week, a tweeter was held for questioning after criticizing the President. Marwa Olleik has fled her city and has been subjected to all sorts of threats and crimes because she is opposing Hezbollah.

How do we expect to move on, if we can’t even vocalize?

And so we have arrived at this point. We are now a police state, where freedoms are repressed, and rights are borderline non existent. We are not functional, we are a farce. We are not going to develop, we have already declined. We will never be Turkey, we will regress until the black hole of sectarianism, corruption and apathy has enveloped us. And we will be left with nothing but our weapons, our martyrs and our allegiances.

We don’t deserve to be proud of our country, our army, our politics, our leaders. We cannot escape our filth and we have reached the end. Put down your slogans, your chants, your dreams, this is defeat. Raise your flag, we’ve lost the battle to develop this country.  

And the war has only just begun.

For a recap on the Human Rights Watch report about ISF crimes click here:

For the video of the army abusing a suspect, click here:

For a one way ticket out, please refer to your nearest embassy.

For  happy feelings, here’s a pretty photo of Istanbul:Image



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8 responses to “The Country Has Fallen

  1. Very powerful piece and beautifully written.

  2. Excellent piece. But so very depressing….

  3. Ghassan

    Pessimist or not.. The country has fallen and that the sad truth, a truth no one is willing to believe. I’m leaving as soon as i graduate (or at least that what I have in mind)… the country is not worth it – not worth fighting for. i have no sense of patriotism or attachment to my country because it has nothing to offer me. Even my family and friends are probably going to end up abroad…what’s left? trabak ya watani? -.- I have no hope no more, we brag about being all superior and educated, our public schooling institutions are the least advanced in the region, while private schooling costs a fortune. We treat foreign workers as slaves; we humiliate homosexuals and pregnant teens. Securité general’s censorship office is banning books, movies and crossing names of Israeli artists off a cd case in the age of internet – maskhara. We brag with our zeituna bay and our two skyscrapers when we see a tourist walk by, or even pretend we have the best night life in the region; truth is, no one except lucky few can afford these places. Materialism is now more than ever reigning over our fake society; we are way beyond copying the west. Religious people should be called politicians, and I don’t think there’s anything religious about them – they ride S-Class Mercedes while we have a growing number of kids on the street without food or education. We praise the Lebanese army and the ISF as the last institution uniting all the Lebanese, truth is this institution has no power at all, it fears fighting one side so the other won’t say it’s being biased, while armed militias are pimping the streets. Leaders of our country are the same civil war criminals being re-elected every time by the ignorant generation who can vote, same generation teaching the future voters to do as well. And just when u think things will get better when we found oil in our soil, no one seems to care because major political parties are busy fighting a war that’s not theirs, and the rest r still arguing over how the new ministry shall be divided between religious sects! We claim to be the center of the world, that everyone wants our land and our water and that some international conspiracy is taking place. Well think again. No one gives a fuck about our country, most people don’t even know what lebanon is. The Israeli government itself is now laughing at the so called arabs how they r killing each other with their arab spring revolutions, to them they are just saving money by limiting the military budget and buying more “peace” time…

  4. Soleil

    I have been to Turkey several times and mesmerized by the identity and beauty of Istanbul. Few years ago, I was hoping that modern Turkey (not Ottoman Turkey) would set an example on how Islam could be compatible with modern democracy. Oh boy … how wrong and confused was I !

    After the defeat of Muslim Ottoman Empire in WWI, Atatürk did a political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, secular and European nation-state. He looked west to Europe and saw how Western Europe became secular and left Christianity behind in the dark ages.

    People in Istanbul, Ankara, and other major cities are mostly educated and secular and the majority support a modern secular state. But unfortunately, this is not the majority of the Turkish people. Rural turkey and the uneducated poor class is still mainly deeply religious. Not all Turkey is like Istanbul, there is a large poor minority living in Turkey. Tourists who visit Lebanon and see Downtown Beirut, Jounyeh, and Byblos think that Lebanon is a beautiful and modern country (They have never seen Akkar, Diniyyeh, Sour,…) and the majority of Lebanese people.

    10 years ago, Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power under the promise to get rid of “Askar” rule. He decided to look East to the former Muslim Ottoman Empire.
    Secular Turkey was a failed experiment. I realized that secular Turkey is compatible with modern democracy. However, religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) are not compatible with any form of democracy.

  5. samisax

    The problem with being Lebanese is the other Lebanese. Our population segments are satisfied with the prospect of one day being the superior segment, dominating national identity, trade, politics, and culture.

    The problem is that the Lebanese subscribe to arabism, communism, all the other -isms, and the religions, while saying they are proud to be Lebanese.

    Lebanese pride comes from that deep down memory of what Lebanon was before invasion and occupation by the various religions, ethnicities, empires, that we subscribe to today. Lebanon was once great. Our Phoenician/Canaanite ancestors were great. Their predecessors were great. We still have that education. We also have the slave mentality of the colonized and we defend the identity of those who raped and pillaged our societies over and again throughout the ages.

    The day we rid ourselves of our collective Stockholm Syndromes, we will remember that we are really Lebanese before we were injected with dissent and destruction. This day seems further away than my life-expectancy, so I’m going to stay away and live my life.

    Turkey cleaned its act up because it was humiliated in the Great War, and then a violent ultra-nationalist military man beat it into shape, by reminding the people that being Turkish comes before any religion or alphabet. He also did this by pursuing the ethnic cleansing of his country.

    That’s what it’s going to take to clean up Lebanon. And there are no prospects in sight. If it happens soon, it’s going to be ugly and I don’t want to be around to see it.

  6. Omg this is exactly what I felt when I visited Istanbul !!

  7. You could have seriously taken every word out of my mouth in this post. I’ve never been to Istanbul, but I know exactly what you mean!

  8. Johnd125

    Very interesting topic, appreciate it for putting up. cefdfeeddafe

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