The Lebanese Flag





Uncivilized, Undemocratic and non-Peaceful

Elie Al-Chaer | January 23, 2007

Lebanon was paralyzed today by blazing tires and burning cars at major thoroughfares from North to South. The opposition led by the Shiite militia “Hezbollah” took to the streets of the capital Beirut and the suburbs and tried to force a work-stoppage by blocking the roads in an attempt to force civilians to stay inside their homes. Daily commuters were stranded and business forcibly came to a halt in many districts of the capital.

Chaos and terror were the order of the day. Black clouds billowed over parts of Beirut and other major cities. The roads to Beirut International Airport – Lebanon’s only air connection with the world - were blocked with burning cars and piles of dirt and sand brought in dump trucks. The scenes were reminiscent of the civil unrest and wars that plagued Lebanon since 1958.

What happened in Lebanon today was anything but civilized, democratic and peaceful. Simply put, it was shameful!

1. Shame on the opposition leaders (no need to blame their followers or attempt even to address them: by definition they just follow!):

a. Burning tires is NOT a peaceful form of protest. Spewing toxic fumes in the air for all to breathe, children and elderly alike, is hardly civilized and peaceful. It is at best a barbaric form of expression typical of regressive societies and banana republics. For those who defend it under the banner of freedom of expression, it is not; your individual or collective freedoms do not entitle you to inflict respiratory problems and lung damage on all of society, let alone the fallout and the trash generated by these fires.

b. Burning cars is NOT a peaceful form of protest! Were these cars private property? Or were these donations to the opposition from their regional friends to use in assassination of government leaders?

c. Blocking roads without permits is NOT a civilized form of protest. In as much as opposition supporters cherish their right to declare a strike, others cherish their right to go to work.

d. Intimidating the public into heeding the opposition’s call is NOT a civilized form of expression.

2. Shame on the government and its security forces:

a. Protecting the civilian population from being terrorized by a few should have been the government's first priority:
    - Unauthorized closing of public roads is illegal and should have been stopped and the roads should have been opened by the official authorities in the early hours of the morning.
    - Dumping dirt and burning cars in public places is illegal and should have been banned by the official authorities in the early hours of the morning.
    - Exposing the public to deliberate toxic pollution is illegal and should have been banned by the official authorities in advance.

b. Allowing the country to be taken hostage by gangs and thugs is not preserving anyone’s right to freely express their views.

c. Negotiations with thugs and the attitude of watch-and-see adopted by the internal security forces and the army troops who were deployed, are a sign of weakness and willingness to derogate the legitimate authority of the central government of Lebanon. Enforcing the laws cannot be parsed unless the authorities wish to lead the country into a civil war.

Political analysis of what happened is untimely and won’t help. What happened was simply wrong and a violation of democracy.

To my fellow Lebanese who did NOT participate in today’s events, thank you.

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