News / Middle East

    Lebanese Youth Speak Out Against Sectarian Violence

    Women walk past as Lebanese army soldiers, gather at the site of Tuesday's explosion, in the Haret Hreik area in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut, Jan. 22, 2014.
    Women walk past as Lebanese army soldiers, gather at the site of Tuesday's explosion, in the Haret Hreik area in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut, Jan. 22, 2014.
    Lebanon's young people have taken to social media to denounce the sectarian violence engulfing their country, and some of those taking the lead are trying to shape the outrage into a political movement, though critics say young online protesters are naive.

    At first there were just a few dozen social media messages decrying Lebanon’s sectarian violence, but within days of a December 30 suicide bombing that killed seven people, including a 16-year-old boy, thousands of young Lebanese participated. In tweets, they insisted that if they get killed in a blast they should not be thought of as martyrs, but as victims.

    They also rejected the idea suicide bombers should be seen as martyrs.  

    The online protest has snowballed and, using the Twitter hashtag "notamartyr" [#notamartyr] and Facebook postings, young Lebanese are venting about sectarian politics and mocking Lebanon’s old order.  

    Hitting close to home

    One of the organizers, blogger Gino Raidy, said the outpouring surprised even him, but he said the violent death of 16-year-old Mohammad Chaar, who was hanging out with friends in downtown Beirut when he was killed, is something the young feel personally.

    “It is something affecting us, affecting normal people like Mohammad Chaar, 16-year-old killed taking a selfie in a very popular area of Beirut," said Raidy. "So it is something all of us can relate to, it is not some political figure assassinated somewhere or a fighter killed in the war zone.  It is in a supposedly very calm area of Beirut, where you should be safe. I think that is why it has struck a chord.”

    From a string of deadly car-bombings sparked by the civil war raging next-door in Syria, to the flood of nearly a million Syrian refugees, sectarian strife has been engulfing Lebanon. Of greatest worry is that more of the recent explosions have been suicide bombings, something not seen in the country since Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, when they were a rarity.

    The suicide bombings are clearly designed to terrorize and cause high death tolls by often targeting residential areas during the rush hour.

    'Me' movement

    Rejecting the concept of martyrdom was highly strategic move, said 26-year-old Raidy, speaking at the Urbanista café, a popular hangout.

    “The word martyr still has a lot of meaning, a lot of gravitas to it with the religious and social and cultural underpinnings it has," he said. "So when someone is called a martyr, you never really argued about that. But people now are beginning to realize it has become a way to remove responsibility from the government, or whichever party is responsible, to actually investigate and punish the people who perpetuated the crime.”

    Now he and other organizers are hoping to shape a “Me” movement to agitate for change. Much of their focus is on lifestyle issues, from restrictive drug laws to police hassling young people late at night.  

    But some others, including older guard non-sectarian political campaigners, argue this is naive. Human rights activist and climate change scientist Rania Masri is one of them.

    “What upsets me about the so-called ‘Me’ movement is it strikes me as a de-contextualization of the issue," said Masri. "So rather than understanding why people become martyrs, or rather than understanding the violence around them and working to stop it as member of society, they are just claiming their own life as individuals, and claiming that is political awareness, while I think that is reinforcement of political apathy.”

    "Me” movement organizers say the Arab Spring was fueled partly by campaigners pressing for individual rights and they believe they can make a difference.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: PermReader
    February 04, 2014 10:41 AM
    "sectarian violence" - the authors mantra that alows not to mention the Islamists.Some irritation with the therm shows the simple position: why doesn`t they wage jihad against-you know the enemy.

    by: michael from: United States
    February 02, 2014 10:53 AM
    Mass murder suicide bombers car bombs is social epidemic serial killing through a movement . How could body belive this serves god. These people are cold blooded killers .nothing more.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora