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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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