A Lebanese expat’s poetry on Lebanon

October 21, 2009 1 comment

One of the contributions that came to The Cedar Tree was the following piece of poetry written by Ahmad Rai. Ahmad is a Lebanese expat in the United Arab Emirates. He writes poetry and prose in Arabic. Thanks Ahmad for sending this, regardless of what the sentiments expressed in the poem are.

 

تطلبين منّي أن أكتب عن لبنانِ
ماذا أكتب عن بلد جفاني
لفظني بعيداّ, بعد البحار أقصاني
رماني من جباله سرق منّي مكاني
قطع عنّي هواه, فتنفست سموم الغبارِ

أي مجرمة أنتِ
لترشقيني الاتهاماتِ
سرقت منّي هويتي و قلت عنّي لبناني
صدّقيني إنّي بعيد كل البعد عن الحدود الأوهامِ
صدّقيني إنما وطني واحدّ
يمتدّ بين الألف و الياءِ

اقرئي, فما أكتبه عن لبنان لن يرضيكِ
أنظري إلى كراسي الحكّامِ
هم نفسهم مجرمي الزمانِ
هم نفسهم أصحاب صبرا و شتيلا
و قطاع طرق كالجرذانِ
هم نفسهم يرفعهم شعبٌ أحمقٌ
يتغنّى بالديمقراطيّة و هو مهان
أيّ ديمقراطي ذلك من يقنع بالعيشِ
عيش القطعان
أيّ ديمقراطي ذلك من يقنع بالعيشِ
خارج الأوطان
أنظري إلى لبنان, ابحثي لي فيه عن شعبٍ
فلست أراه مأهولاّ سوى بفصائل الحيوان
ابحثي لي فيه عن فردٍ يمشي وحيداً
فلست أجد فيه إلا أسراب إنسان
طُبع على جباههم كلمات أوهامٍ
و أسماء أحزابٍ و عقائد أديان
و هم مذّاك يمشون بلا ضياءٍ
ينفّذون بلا فهمٍ و استفهام
أو على الأقل تعجّب و استنكار
شعبٌ ديمقراطي و لكن أعمى
شعبٌ حرٌ و لكن عطشان
مريضّ و ليس لدائه دواء

عذراً… لم يعد لي وطن يدعى لبنان
لي وطنٌّ واحدٌ
رسمه أحمد مطر و نزار و النّواب
لي وطن أتمنى لو ترسم حدوده بين مخارج الأصوات
فيبدأ بألف عربية و ينتهي بالياء
لي وطن واحد أحلم بهِ
قويٌ, عادلٌ, حرٌ
يتغنّى بالفكر والجمال
لي وطنٌ أتمنى لو تسقط من خريطته الأسماء
فيبقى له اسم واحد و واحدة من الصفات
عربٌ, عربٌ, و بشرتهم سمراء
لي وطنٌ شعبه يمتد من صحراء موريتانيا إلى الصومال
و نحو الشام
لي وطن لغته واحدة
كتب بها عنترة و السموأل و بن عبد الله
لي هذا الوطن الصامد في عالم الأحلام
لي هذا الوطن الذي لن يتوطن طالما أن الشعب مخدّر نعسان
لي هذا الوطن الذي أفضّل العيش في أوهامه على أن أعيشَ في لبنان

 

Please note that the poem was posted in the center, so that none of the words get cut off.

Mika: If there’s an ounce of Lebanon in your family, it will take over.

October 18, 2009 Leave a comment

I came across this interesting article dated Oct.14, 2009 on the 26-year-old Lebanon born singer, Mika. In the following excerpt Mika talks about his Lebanese background. He also says that he grew up listening to Fairuz thanks to his parents.

 

Six weeks later, I visit Mika on an early spring day in London; he is a dual British and American national, but calls Kensington home and his flat is in the basement of the family’s grand house.

His mother Joannie is Lebanese (his father is American) and while the civil war in that country meant that the family fled when Mika was a baby, he says: “if there’s an ounce of Lebanon in your family, it will take over.

Ours is a Lebanese household: there’s incense burning; you’ll get fed within 10 minutes.

“There’s a survival trait, too,” he continues, curled up on his white sofa, “and I think that’s what’s odd about me. In Lebanon, there’ll be bombs being thrown, but the restaurants will shut down only when they have to.

“There’s this mentality that if you’re going to cry, you stand on the table, throw your hands in the air and scream as loudly as you can and you deal with it. I think it’s affected the way I make music, these extremes of emotion.”

The family moved to Paris — and Mika now speaks fluent French — before heading to London when he was nine because his father’s business was in temporary trouble.

Click here to read the whole article.

Credits: Photo via yalibnan.com

Credits: Photo via yalibnan.com

Read about Lebanon’s Man in the Cube

October 17, 2009 2 comments

Rami Eid, or currently known as the man in the cube, is living in a transparent cube on Ein El-Mreyseh until 18 October 2009. Why? This is part of a project  organized by The League of Independent Activists – IndyACT “aiming to raise global urgency on the critical dangers of global warming and to urge world leaders to take fast and effective action against climate change in Copenhagen this year.”

Rami’s keeping a blog with personal entries on how it’s like to be living in a transparent cube as “the last man on earth.” He was featured on the front page of Al Akhbar newspaper today.

You can follow the man in the cube on twitter or check out his blog.

After 56 years, Lebanon is once again a U.N. Security Council member.

October 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Lebanon, Bosnia among five new UN council members

From Reuters

Politically divided Lebanon and Bosnia were among five countries elected to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, in a move diplomats hoped would help strengthen the two countries’ fragile institutions.

In an uncontested election, the U.N. General Assembly voted for Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria to serve on the council through 2010 and 2011. All five had been selected in advance by their regional groups.

From Jan. 1 they will replace Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Libya and Vietnam as non-veto-holding members of the 15-nation body, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the authority to impose sanctions and send peacekeeping forces.

Unresolved political and security issues have meant that both Lebanon and Bosnia are subject to Security Council scrutiny. Lebanon has some 12,500 U.N. peacekeeping troops in its south, stemming from past conflicts with Israel, while Bosnia, torn by war in the 1990s, has a European Union force.

Click on the link above to read the whole article.

Climate Change and the Cedar Trees!

October 15, 2009 4 comments

So where is Lebanon’s famous Cedar tree in all of this climate change talk today? Ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you the very sad answer.

Lebanon’s majestic cedar trees are now on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list as “heavily threatened” species. The Cedar trees need rain, frost and snow in order to survive, but with the ever-increasing temperatures and change in climate, less snow is falling on Lebanon’s mountain tops, and therefore endangering the trees of disappearing from the mountains. Some of these trees have stood strong for over 2,000 years now. That’s NOT 2, 20 or 200 years. We’re talking 2,000 years!  

Action needs to be taken NOW.

Part of the Blog Action Day ’09.

Lebanese students to compete in the World Robot Olympics

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday, The Daily Star reported that three Lebanese students from the Iman High School in Sidon will be competing in the World Robot Olympics in South Korea this November. Congratulations for the Lebanese students and all the best at the Olympics!

Interfaith marriage for Lebanese is 150 miles away!

October 14, 2009 2 comments

In Mideast, marriage too can be a battlefield

From The Associated Press

In the Middle East, civil marriage doesn’t exist and no religious authority will perform an interfaith wedding. Lebanon and Israel are different in that they recognize civil marriages as long as they’re performed abroad, and the closest venue abroad is Cyprus, 150 miles from Lebanon and 230 miles from Israel.

So this little island, which claims to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, has made mixed marriages something of an industry. Its municipalities charge around $415 for express processing and $190 for others, while travel agencies in both Lebanon and Israel offer packages including travel, luxury hotel, marriage fees and flowers for the bride.

Last year, by Cyprus government count, 523 couples from Lebanon and 1,533 from Israel were married here.

Wakim, 39, and Ghamloush, 33, met at work, fell in love and decided to marry. Their problem was, he’s a Maronite Christian, she’s a Baha’i. So Cyprus was their best bet.

Their wedding at City Hall in Nicosia, the capital, was quick and unadorned. A photocopier next to the Wedding Room whirred and creaked as municipal workers handled paperwork. The groom slipped outside for a quick smoke in the parking lot.

Then the marriage officer arrived, recited his lines in English, and the couple exchanged vows. It was over in 10 minutes.

They snapped a few photos of themselves on the steps of City Hall, then hurried off to finish the paperwork. They were catching a 40-minute flight back to Beirut that evening.

Click on the link above to read the whole article.

Excuse me, but I have the right to vote.

October 13, 2009 Leave a comment

At a workshop held on the reform of electoral laws yesterday, Interior Minister Ziad Baroud said that the right of expatriates and handicapped persons to vote and the use of pre-printed ballot papers were among the anticipated reforms, according to a Daily Star article published today.  “Baroud added that he hoped an election supervisory commission would one day replace the Interior Ministry in taking charge of elections, reminding the audience of his earlier remarks: ‘I hope to be the last Interior Minister to manage general elections and I hope that an independent commission would handle this task.'”

According to a recent AFP article, after the June vote in Lebanon, the European Union presented a list of 36 recommendations to improve the electoral process. “Among the 36 recommendations made by the EU is for Lebanon to gradually reduce emphasis on confessionalism in the electoral system, introduce a degree of proportionality, the use of officially printed ballots, and establish an independent election management body as well as better representation for women.

The report also noted that a law that prevents Lebanese women from passing on their citizenship if married to a foreign national was discriminatory as it barred their offspring from voting.

Out of 587 candidates in the run-up to the vote, 12 were women and only four were elected to the 128-seat parliament.”

The question is: when will these reforms become the law?

Palestinians demand the reconstruction of their homes

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Nahr el Bared residents, supporters rally ahead of key ruling on reconstruction

From The LA Times

Several hundred people rallied in downtown Beirut on Monday in a show of solidarity with the displaced residents of Nahr el Bared, the Palestinian refugee camp that was  destroyed in spring 2007 when fighting broke out between Fatah Al-Islam militants and the Lebanese Army.

The demonstration was staged days before a key court ruling that could put a halt to reconstruction, leaving some 30,000 people in temporary UN housing or squeezed into the outskirts of the camp indefinitely.

Monday’s rally saw young activists from Beirut chant and clap alongside displaced camp residents of all ages, many of whom wore caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the name of one of the 37 different community organizations that organized the protest under the umbrella of the Nahr el Bared Advocacy Committee.

 

Photo from BBC News: A Palestinian boy holds a placard in Beirut, Lebanon

Photo from BBC News: A Palestinian boy holds a placard in Beirut, Lebanon

 

Photo: Girl at Palestinian refugee rally. Credit: AFP / Getty

Photo: Girl at Palestinian refugee rally. Credit: AFP / Getty

Click on the link above to read the whole article.

Survey ranks Beirut the 33rd most expensive city in the world

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Beirut ranks as 33rd most expensive retail rent in world, second highest in Middle East

From The Daily Star

A survey of the world’s most expensive retail rental locations has ranked Beirut as the 33rd most expensive city worldwide. The 2009 survey of 60 cities around the world by property consultants Cushman & Wakefield found Beirut to be the second most expensive of 12 cities in the Middle East and Africa region, and the most expensive of 10 Arab cities included in the rankings, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group. 

In a previous survey Beirut ranked as the 43rd most expensive city globally and the third most expensive in the Middle East and Africa. 
Click on the link above to read the whole article.