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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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 US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
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.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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