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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More