Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#BlogActionDay : Refugees in crisis.

Sometimes in this cruel word, people out there can make a difference in somebody's
Iife or even an entire nation's lives. That is the purpose of this article. I am trying to be one of those people, and if it weren't for them I wouldn't have came back to blogging. Today is Blog Action Day, initiated by Amnesty International, uniting bloggers of the world to post about the same topic in the hopes of sparking a global discussion, and the theme is Human Rights.

As most of you have noticed, we are having a global crisis concerning human rights; expulsions, refugees, chemical weapons, torture in all means possible. And in most of these cases we didn't get the chance of doing anything about it. War crimes and unlawful killings in Sri Lanka, expulsions of Roma's in Europe and making them go through hell. But on the other hand, we really started changing the course of humanity, like with Herman Wallace's case, the man that was unjustly put of solitary confinement for 41 years and who was, thanks to a lot of you, released but only had 3 days of freedom, for he died from liver cancer. Another breakthrough in human rights this year was the Arms treaty that would regulate the selling and buying of arms worldwide. Being a member in Amnesty has given my life a meaning, being part of those achievements gave me self satisfaction. But there is one special topic we couldn't do much about and is affecting our everyday lives, specially in Lebanon; Syrian crisis.

For more than 2 years now, refugees seeking protection have been flooding to Lebanon through the open borders, and their number is increasing in a worrying way. We in Lebanon see them everywhere; streets, schools, camps, hospitals. Though a lot of people are starting to become bothered by their presence, we cannot ignore the fact that they are like brothers to us, people who lived just on the other side of our borders, people who have welcomed us on their land during the July 2006 war, people who have helped us escape through their airports when ours was bombed. These kids and elderly you see on the side of the streets begging, or selling things have had their families killed, houses destroyed, relatives tortured, jobs ruined by this crazy war. Some people do a lot to help them, but that is not enough. Lebanon was the only country to host ALL Syrians without looking at their backgrounds and rejecting them. And that's what is ruining our country as well; our politicians are encouraging violence there, some of the refugees with evil minds sabotage our lives (the number of rapes and assaults in our streets is dangerously in rise). All that because other Arab countries didn't bother opening their doors for them.

I can clearly state that except for Lebanon and Jordan (who eventually closed their doors for these refugees) no Arab countries have hosted refugees and went to the extreme by deporting them such as Egypt. What is this Arab union you long talked to us about? This Arab league who did nothing but condemn the killings and the chemical attacks there. Why won't Saudi, Emirates, Egypt and others help Lebanon with providing protection for these fellow Arabs who have been suffering the consequences of the chaos going on on their land? The countries I have listed are way richer and way more stable economically and politically than Lebanon who is in debt and who can't get itself out of his own interior problems. Why do we as Lebanese have to be the only ones with feelings of Arab compassion and fellowship? The people of Syria need help more than ever and I don't think we should be the only ones to get them out of this. Gulf countries are stronger, larger geographically and more organized than us.

Let this article be an open letter to everyone out there who wants to help, let us urge or at least try to raise the awareness of Arab countries about the crucial role they can play in this human rights crisis. As Ghandi once said "Be the change you want to see in the world". Try to be part of the solution you want the Syrian people to witness.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The real extremists

I've been meeting a lot of people recently, from fellow Amnesty members to fellow Rotarians. I honestly am amazed by the similarities we all have despite the fact that we all come from different cultures. Some, in particular, shocked me, and not in a good way. Just when I thought the days of ignorance and disrespect towards a religion different than yours were over, I saw that some people think that "Muslims" shouldn't be allowed to join Rotary or any other International organization or to be integrated within the International Community.
I don't even know how they even "allow" themselves to think that way or to even say that publicly. What puzzled me even more is that those people are not only Westerners (like most of us will tend to think), they are a lot closer than we think, in regions such as South Asia and Latin America. Having a really curious spirit I went searching for answers.

"Islamic terrorists", "Muslims fundamentalists", "Extremists". Those were the labels I got when asking. The media's portrayal of Islam often misleads those whose knowledge is limited, about religions in particular, in making negative assumptions about this peaceful religion, and often in making fools out of themselves as well.
Let me tell you something, muslim does not mean terrorist. I would really like to know what "their" definition of terrorism is. What do they call those people who go out and kill innocent children in USA? We cannot deny the fact that some terrorist organizations are muslim, but are they all? What about the Italian Mafias? I don't reckon they are.
Muslim does not mean  extremist. I am muslim, I believe in my religion, I fast and pray, do I go and try to margenilize people from other religions? People often ask me about my religion because they can't guess what religion I am, because I do not impose it on them. Some don't even bother asking, they only care about the values and moral standards of the person, and I deeply admire that way of thinking.
On the other hand, concervative does not mean extremist and an extremist isn't necessarly a terrorist. I know a lot of concervative people, and none of them go and massacre people from other religions and would never consider hurting a human being.
Thinking that all muslims are like Al Qaeda or Taliba is wrong and unnaceptable. Generalizing a small group of people's twisted and sick minds hungry for blood on millions of people is just not logical at all. I wonder if the people who think that way know that Islam itself denounces terrorism. It is clear that taking a person's life, including your own, is strictly forbidden by the religion and will be punished.
So my friends, people with limited thinking and analyzing capacity, who don't know a thing about religions and yet tend to judge are called IGNORANTS no matter what degree of education they have. They should lock themselves inside a dark room, as dark as their minds and that would make the world a better place. We are in 2013 for God's sake. If them who come from "developed" countries and are called the "intellectual" class of the society think that way, how dare we even call them "educated"?

Accepting others is a MUST in our times. If they cannot respect the religion of an enormous number of people and judge everyone who belongs to it, I would like to know on what standards are they basing their judgment? Who do they think they are, and who made them think they are better than the others?
Well that leaves me wondering who the real "extremists" are.