Sunday, August 05, 2007

Why I am worried about the safety of Armenians in Lebanon. I don't need another distraction but this by-election in Lebanon was although I don't vote, and I am not supporting any candidate--not that I have people waiting for my electoral preferences or recommendations. I barely slept, and was trying to find the results before going to sleep: in Beirut it was known but I wanted to see the results in Matn and the scale of Hizbullah betrayal of the opposition candidate, Ibarhim Al-Halabi. But now, having watched the debates on TV, especially the panel and interventions on LBC-TV, I am now concerned over the safety and security of Armenian Lebanese. Those Armenians are as Lebanese as anybody else: and some of the Gemayyel family members (including Amin's own father) have roots in Egypt but nobody questions their loyalty to Lebanon (except me, of course). The Armenians have become part and parcel of the fabric of Lebanese society: but make no mistake about it. This is a fundamentally racist and sectarian country. And the conservative Tashnaq party, the most influential Armenian party in Lebanon, has been an ally of the Phalanges since the 1950s. Yet, today, once the Gemayyel family realized that the results were not in their favor, they lashed out against all Armenians in Lebanon, and my instigate a rampage against innocent Armenians especially that Lebanese Forces goons are out on the streets. There were direct threats made on Lebanese TV against Armenians: key March 14 figure (former candidate from Matn), Gabriel Al-Murr, described the Armenians as "parasites." And then Amin Gemayyel in a rally in Bikfayya also lashed out against Armenians in Lebanon and called them "tari'in" (has the meaning of "intruders" or temporary passers). The Armenians have been quite unhappy with the marginalization of their role by the person who started the marginalization of Christians and Armenians in Lebanon (with the support of the Syrian regime): Rafiq Hariri who instigated a split within Tashnaq. This is why Tashnqa moved toward Michel `Awn. `Awn used to pose a secular leader and yet in this campaign, he resorted to blatant sectarian Christian campaigning and agitation. Of course, the other side did that and more: and they scored points by skillfully resorting to most blatant and ugly sectarian discourse. The most effective gimmick in the campaign was the reference by Duri Sham`un to Michel `Awn as "Michel Nasrallah." Sami Amin Gemayyel said that only "the Christians" defended Lebanon in its contemporary history. But it was sad to watch: because the political weight of the Christians has sharply declined: this by-election was a disguised Sunni-Shi`ite conflict. Or we can say that the Christians were fighting over whether it is better to align with Sunnis or with Shi`ites. They were all dirty, in this campaign. Only one candidate, the leftist Ibrahim Al-Halabi--a victim of typical Hizbullah betrayal--managed to run a campaign without one sectarian word or method. He lost handily but deserves respect--unlike all the rest. By the way: please monitor your local Western paper tomorrow because I bet you that not a single Western newspaper will report the racist March 14th outburst against Armenians. It will not be seen as good for the image of the Batata Revolution.