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One Night in Hamra

[Counter-protesters in Hamra holding pictures of Bashar al-Asad.] [Counter-protesters in Hamra holding pictures of Bashar al-Asad.]

[The following is an eye-witness account of the violent dispersion of an anti-regime protest that took place this past Tuesday outside the Syrian Embassy in Beirut. The author of the report-back has chosen to remain anonymous.]

Last Tuesday evening at around 8 o’clock, a group of people gathered at the Syrian Embassy in Beirut in order to protest the ongoing atrocities committed by the Syrian regime against the Syrian people. Earlier that day I had received an email, part of a “secret email chain,” informing me that the protest would take place and that I should only share the email with people I trust. The secrecy with which the protest was planned was in response to previous protests which, when announced, were met with counter-protests which, with their sheer numbers and threats of intimidation, ensured that the anti-regime protests did not reach the embassy. The Syrian Embassy is bordered by two parking lots, a bank, two popular cafes, and an alley filled with bars regularly packed with people drinking the evening away.

Ras Beirut is a stronghold of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP), and since the Syrian people have risen against the Ba‘thist regime, the SSNP’s presence on the streets of Ras Beirut has emerged full force and in ways unseen in nearly two decades. In particular, Makdissi street has been dubbed “the capital of their fiefdom,” the latter of which has been infused with intimidation, machismo, and an aura of defensiveness since the uprising in Syria erupted. Within this fiefdom, there is a café run out of a parked minibus where the “shabab” of the SSNP gather, there are party flags hoisted on electrical poles and off of buildings, and everywhere, there is the arrogant confidence of boy-men who have been told that in order to “defend” their political party, they have full (and politically protected) reign over the streets

At the demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy, I recognized many friends among the male and female protestors, all activists, all veterans working against the March 14 / March 8 political schism that has polarized Lebanon for over six years now. We stood about three rows deep and faced the embassy as well as the Lebanese security detail. Suddenly, a group of men began running towards us from the side of the bank, led by a tall thin man in his fifties with white hair, whom I later learned is a member of the Ba`th Party in Lebanon. Almost as if in a drill, the man with the white hair lined up the group of what appeared to be migrant Syrian workers facing us. He lifted his hands, as if he was the conductor of a grand symphony, and an almost surreal chanting war unfolded. We began chanting, “from Beirut to Hama, we are one people,” and they countered, “with our blood and our souls, we support you Asad.” After they threw that semantic barb at us, we responded, “with our blood and our souls, we support you Syria.” There was a moment of confusion when everyone realized that being pro-Syrian and being pro-Asad were being posed as opposites in this small confrontation. That made me happy.

Then, another group of all-male counter-protestors arrived, running from the other side of the street; the one with the SSNP minibus-as-cafe. The Lebanese security detail disappeared, and the now larger group of counter-protestors began to push towards us, clearly trying to intimidate us into leaving. They would push into us, a couple of them would shout at the rest to step back--“protecting us” they later claimed--and then the charade would start up again. Finally, the supporters of the Syrian regime (a mixture, that night on Makdissi street, of Ba‘thists, SSNP members, and others) realized that the anti-regime protestors were still holding their ground and not responding to their threats of violence. So they attacked.

When they attacked us, they all came together and they came at all of us indiscriminately. We were easily overwhelmed, and at first, they came after anyone with a camera. Men picked up chairs and threw them at us, others took off belts and began whipping us with them, and others pushed, punched, and kicked at us. I saw a friend, one of the political activists I respect most in Lebanon, being punched in the face. He reeled backwards, and both he and I began to (me) walk and (him) stumble backwards into a parking lot where I, for some reason, thought I would be safer. As he stumbled backwards, his attacker pushed him, and my friend fell silently like a heap of bones and meat onto the concrete floor. I walked towards him, as the attacker--still not satisfied--kicked him while he was on the ground. As I bent down over my friend, I saw the attacker move on to another friend, grabbing her by the neck and swinging her around the street in a bizarre semi-circle. He then turned around towards me and my friend who was still on the floor. The man, who was shouting in a Lebanese accent, was heavily muscled in a white T-shirt, tanned and had short black hair. He approached me, shouting and swearing and accusing me of having a camera and taking pictures. I am ashamed to say this now, but I stood up, looked at him and pleaded with him to not hurt me or hurt my friend any further. I opened my hands, looked into his eyes, and said “I don’t have a camera or a phone. I don’t have anything. Please don’t hurt me.” At that moment, even as the words were leaving my mouth, I hated myself for feeling so vulnerable, and so afraid. He had won. Furiously, the attacker turned away and towards others.

We tried to carry my friend to a nearby restaurant/bar called Main Street (formerly known as Grafitti) in order to keep him safe until the ambulance that someone who had also been punched in the face and neck had called. A man who identified himself as the manager of Main Street refused to allow my friend to enter his establishment, saying that he could not allow his business to become a political target. Across the street, a young man lay on the ground near the entrance of The Prague, where he was being kicked repeatedly by a group of men. We picked up my friend (whom we later learned had a broken hip) and carried him up to Hamra street.

At this point, everyone was dispersing. A group of protestors were followed to a restaurant in Hamra where they were attacked again, a group of us staggered into Ras Beirut’s other streets, and another group followed my friend to Hamra street in order to regroup and wait for the Lebanese Red Cross to arrive. Finally, the Lebanese Internal Security arrived in full force. We told them what had happened and pointed them towards Makdissi street, where the pro-Syrian regime attackers were still congregated, picking off strays from the violently dispersed protest. Three people went to the police station on Bliss Street (Maghfar Hubaysh) to file a complaint against those that had physically harmed us. They were turned away by the police, who told them that the attackers had political backing and that there was nothing the police could do. Thus a broken hip, a cracked skull, and countless black eyes and swollen body parts were all meted out by a group of shabab confident in the knowledge that they are not accountable to anyone.

About half an hour later, I was walking back with another female friend towards our car. Still shaken, I asked her if we could possibly not walk down Makdissi street. She is, I suppose, much braver than I am. She led me down that street, at the end of which we were parked. We passed by a group of men who were beating up some other person from their own “side” and reprimanding him for some reason. We walked on, past the SSNP “snack” and past the SSNP flags. Once behind us, the boys began to threaten us with sexual assault. “Do we hit girls?” “What do we do with girls?” “How do we deal with women?” were some of the sentences spit at our backs. Not lost on me was the irony that these threats of sexual violence were being made under a poster of Sana’ Mhaydel, who is often touted as evidence of the SSNP’s progressive gender politics by achieving an almost legendary place in SSNP lore as the first female suicide bomber in formerly occupied South Lebanon. Finally, we reached our car and left.

Yesterday, the Lebanese press, that bastion of freedom of expression, was largely silent about these events. Even the so-called “progressive” Lebanese newspapers, al-Akhbar and al-Safir, chose to bury news of the protest and its violent break-up under off-putting or misleading headlines. In some ways, I am glad that this happened in Ras Beirut and not anywhere else in Lebanon. The fact that a group of protestors can be viciously attacked and that their attackers remain unaccountable to anyone in Ras Beirut is important. People always speak of Ras Beirut as if it is somehow not really Lebanese, as if it is an oasis of diversity, progressive politics, and revelry. But by now, everyone should know that this is not true. Behind the bars and coffee shops and stores, Ras Beirut, like everywhere else in Lebanon, is also owned by a particular political party. When I told friends what had happened that night, many of them revealed this knowledge, asking me why we had chosen to protest in Ras Beirut (where the Syrian embassy is) and not in another part of Beirut where we would be “safer.” The answer is simple. If we protest against the Syrian regime in downtown Beirut, we will be considered allies of the March 14 movement (and its racist discourse against Syrians in Lebanon); if we protest in other areas of “West Beirut,” we will be considered allies of the Hariri-led Mustaqbal movement, and if we protest in Ashrafiyya (or “East Beirut”) we will be considered allies of the Lebanese Forces. This is the political geography of the city, and for those of us who refuse to be associated with any of these broken and corrupt political parties or with the false binary of March 14 / March 8, our politics and our political bodies are unprotected, vulnerable, homeless, and vagabond. Today in Lebanon, it is dangerous to support the Syrian people who are being killed on a daily basis by the Asad regime while at the same time being against against the US-Saudi-Zionist alliance as well as both the Hizballah-led March 8 movement and the Hariri-led March 14 movement.

That night, there was a man in the counter-demonstration whose sole function was to take pictures and record everyone who was protesting against the Syrian regime’s criminal suppression of a popular uprising. After the protest, we were told in no uncertain terms that we will be attacked if and when we return to Ras Beirut. We have been profiled, and threatened with further violence if we enter “their area,” filled with cafes run out of minivans, flags, and posters of martyrs who are used as tokens of past glory. Hamra is not a safe place for those who are conscientious, progressive, and politically active. But I, and others, will not stop going to visit Hamra, Makdissi, or other parts of Ras Beirut. Our friends and families live there, we go to school there, we work there, we live there, and we frequent bars, restaurants, and cafes there. And we will continue to be politically active there as we are in the rest of this country. They have my picture. I dare the Lebanese government to do its job and protect me.

21 comments for "One Night in Hamra"

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Kinda over dramatic don't you think? You forget your in Lebanon where it's not a big deal if you fight. You can go around and talk crap about a president and not get beat. Your problem is your group didn't have enough supporters. I know y'all are about not fighting but against syria you need to man up and take names. Ghandi never pleaded for mercy, that's where you fail, you think a president is going to listen to a wimp?

some guy wrote on August 04, 2011 at 12:36 PM
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I appreciate the report from Hamra demo in support of the Syrian people, but then I read that "the man with the white hair lined up the group of what appeared to be migrant Syrian workers facing us." What do migrant Syrian workers in Beirut look like anyway?

Ahmad Arab wrote on August 04, 2011 at 01:36 PM
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Interesting. Just a question: since the writer of the article didn't recognize any of the attackers, how does he know any of them is an SSNP member.. Of course, you can expect that ssnp members that hang around in hamra could have ventured to help the protesters, and they should have done so, of course. But I understand if they just decided not to fight against some Baath or syrian "mokhabarat" members. Is the writer impying he was attacked by SSNP, or he is just mad that they didnt protect him?

anuniouuus wrote on August 04, 2011 at 01:39 PM
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You deserve it. Nothing short of provocation. You didn't bother register the protest to get security. Embassy security is for the embassy, not for self-involved idiots. If you go on a pro-Asad protest in Tripoli, you'd be beheaded. At least bruises heal, not your ego though (hopefully).

Jon wrote on August 04, 2011 at 01:53 PM
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During the sit-in it was easy to identify who is SSNP, by seeing the swastika (zawba3a) on their necks. is that enough proof for you?

someone who was attacked by SSNP wrote on August 05, 2011 at 03:56 AM
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First of all you idiots, what makes you assume that the writer is a male? And 2, I dont think the point was to discriminate against "syrian migrant workers", and yes, if you look carefully, you can sometimes make an educated guess where people come from. Sure, maybe its " discriminative", but this is not the point of this well written article. Dont take away its shine.

Thank you

TH 21 wrote on August 05, 2011 at 04:05 AM
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Good article, however, it is misleading of the writer to state that As-safir and Al-Akhbar chose to bury the news under "misleading headlines". Here is the link to Assafir's piece on what happened http://www.assafir.com/article.aspx?EditionId=1912&ChannelId=45100&ArticleId=381 It is very obvious that it was stating what happened in favor of the protestors who were attacked, against the attackers. It was also placed in تتمات الصفحة الأولى which is one of the most read pages in the paper. This, without mentioning that the events happened late at night, and as most of us know, newspapers finalize next day's material at like 7:00 pm, especially when nothing is expected to happen (since the protest was secretive). I am not saying this to defend anyone, I know that the Lebanese media is being unprofessional and insensitive when it comes to what is happening in Syria, but I just wanted to point out the truth. Thank you :)

Leen wrote on August 05, 2011 at 05:34 AM
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العزيزة لين، هناك عدد من المغالطات في ردك اعلاه،ومنها ان الاعتصام لم يكن متأخراً في الليل بل كان وقت العشاء، لنفترض ان احد صحافيي السفير تم الاعتداء عليه، او ان حسن نصرالله تعرض لفكش في رجله، هل كانت الصحف ستمرر الخبر بعدم الجدية التي مرر فيه؟ ام انه فكش حسن اهم من كسر غسان او فدغ نبيل و علي او رضة باسم او الرعب الذي شعرت به سارة وكارول؟؟؟ ثانياً ان الخبر في الاخبار ورد تحت مقال عن الحكومة اللبنانية اعتقد الا احد لديه الحشرية لمعرفة انجازاتها.. وماذا عن كلمة "يشكون" فلم يشك احد بل كان تحركهم وردود الفعل وصلابتهم في موقفهم وتضامنهم مع بعض اكبر واقوى من مجرد الاشتكاء... ونود ان نذكر جميع الصحافيين والصحف ووسائل الاعلام ان هؤلاء الذين اعتدي عليهم هم من طالما دافع عن الحريات وبخاصة الصحافية منها، فالحرية لا تتجزأ وحرية كل مواطن من حرية هؤلاء الناشطين الذين تم الاعتداء عليهم. فما حدث لا يمكن ان يمر ببساطة وتخاذل التغطية التي حصل عليها لانه يعني الجميع، فلماذا هذا الموقف الدفاعي؟؟ وما هي الحقيقة يا لين في النهاية؟؟

Berna wrote on August 05, 2011 at 08:07 AM
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Leen a statement from the attacked protestors was sent to the newspapers and still none published it

sameeh wrote on August 05, 2011 at 08:22 AM
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1) Ahmad Arab: You can recognize what "APPEARED TO BE" migrant workers just as well as you can recognize "WHAT APPEARED TO BE" a frenchy couccou bourgeois who only speaks french, or an amercican educated teenager influenced from Disney Channel or a "muslim salafi", a homeless man, an indian an german a turkish a gay person, etc... this is not discrimination, people APPEAR to be something, they're not always what they appear to be, but you have the right to guess. And mainly dear, this is dress-code and body language and other features related guess.

2) some guy, we are not against Syria, we are against the murders and massacres that the Syrian Regime is doing to its own people. To that, dear, you don't need to stand up and take a name, nor fight a bunch of insecure scared to death violent animals who, against the words "freedom" and "we support you syria" had nothing left to do but use their heavy boots to hit the words on their head till silence. What you need to do is spread the word, no matter under which name, and keep supporting your cause: HUMAN RIGHTS. Good to mention here how brave you are to mention your own stand (name). I see, we forgot we are in Lebanon and people fight, and the president won't listen to a wimp. Makhfar Hbesh didn't take the claim of people who were beaten up. You defend that, great. Well imagine this: your closest person walking down the street, saying how much he supports Asad's regime, and a bunch of guys attack her untill she/he can't walk anymore. you take her to the nearest hospital to discover she/he has a broken hip and needs to get operated immediately for 10k USD. Insurance doesn't cover it because she/he needs a prosthesis and that is not covered. You write about what happened, furious like you are, and people comment calling him/her (ur sister, lover, daughter, friend) a wimp. Nobody will listen to a wimp! YOu deserve it! People fight in Lebanon you stupid don't be over-dramatic about it!

3) anuniouuus: The writer is clearly implying he was attacked by SSNP MEMBERS, and I know for a fact he was ALSO protected by SSNP MEMBERS. some of which were beaten up by other (more macho) SSNP members because they took the defensive side.

In summary: the decision was not an SSNP authority decision, or at least not to what I imagine, but some members of SSNP did attack, and some others did protect.

4) Jon, the self-involved idiot here is you, as you clearly don't give a shit about the amount of people dying everyday in Syria today. Or maybe to you the Palestinian blood (even when shed under a Palestinian gun) is more precious than the Syrian one? I guess. As for registering the protest part, I agree with you 100% on this one. But it is not enough of a reason to defend the fact that we got attacked, it is enough of a reason to state why we were not protected when attacked.

5) Leen, the link you attached is so poor it proves the opposite of what you were trying to prove. I was in the protest and I would not call myself a "mou3aridoun lil nizam al souri 3am teshki men mouhajamte". The truth is that we are against murder and tanks facing citizens. And we have been attacked for stating that. Mesh 3am neshki, it's a fact. The correct title would be: "mou3aridoun li majazir al Nizam al souri 3ala sha3bihi ta3arradou li houjoum 3anif khilal i3tisamahom amam al safara al souriyya" wu hayda mesh khabar lezim ykoun enno yiii 7zaro shou, khabbarouna enno heik heik sar, metel khabar "atlaqa al fannan kaza albomohou al awwal ams".

But anyhow, this article (here on Jadaliyya) was written before the media started talking about it, as since yesterday the media buzz is acceptable. As-Safir did a good job covering it yesterday and so did many TV stations etc... But at the time this article was written, no media gave this incident its right.

Kinda Hassan wrote on August 05, 2011 at 09:26 AM
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Most of these comments are quite rude, especially considering the vulnerable honesty of the author. It's a well-written eyewitness account, and doesn't deserve this kind of mean-spirited criticism. From the content of the paragraph about threatened sexual violence, I infer that the author is female. She should feel proud of her courage in joining the protest, and her eloquence in describing the events.

Sarah Familia wrote on August 05, 2011 at 09:51 AM
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Thank you for sharing this intense experience... I can't wait to return to Lebanon and join you in a protest... 14 and 8 March should be marginalized and tried for their corruption and dirty agendas.

Eli wrote on August 05, 2011 at 10:20 AM
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1) Ahmad Arab: You can recognize what "APPEARED TO BE" migrant workers just as well as you can recognize "WHAT APPEARED TO BE" a frenchy couccou bourgeois who only speaks French, or an American educated teenager influenced from Disney Channel or a conservative Muslim or Jew, a homeless man, an, etc... this is not discrimination, people APPEAR to be something, but they're not always what they appear to be. 2) some guy, we are not against Syria, we are against the murders and massacres that the Syrian Regime is doing to its own people. To that, dear, you don't need to stand up and take a name, nor fight a bunch of insecure scared to death violent animals who, against the words "freedom" and "we support you syria" had nothing left to do but use their heavy boots and fists. What you need to do is spread the word, no matter under which name, and keep supporting the cause of human rights. Good to mention here how brave you are to mention your own stand (name). I see, we forgot we are in Lebanon and people fight, and the president won't listen to a wimp. Hbeish didn't take the claim of people who were beaten up. You defend that, great. Well imagine this: the closest person to you walking down the street, saying how much he supports Asad's regime, and a bunch of guys attack him/her untill s/he can't walk anymore. you take him/her to the nearest hospital to discover s/he has a broken hip and needs to get operated immediately for 10k USD. Insurance doesn't cover it because s/he needs a prosthesis and that is not covered. You write about what happened, furious like you are, and people comment calling him/her (ur sister, lover, kid, friend) a wimp. Nobody will listen to a wimp! You deserve it! People fight in Lebanon you stupid don't be over-dramatic about it! 3) anuniouuus: The writer is clearly implying he was attacked by SSNP MEMBERS, and I know for a fact he was ALSO protected by SSNP MEMBERS, some of which were beaten up by other (more macho) SSNP members because they took the defensive side.

4) Jon, the self-involved idiot here is you, as you clearly don't give a shit about the amount of people dying everyday in Syria today. As for registering the protest part, I agree with you 100% on this one. But it is not enough of a reason to defend the fact that we got attacked, it is enough of a reason to state why we were not protected when attacked.

5) Leen, the link you attached is so poor it proves the opposite of what you were trying to prove. I was in the protest and I would not call myself a "معارضون للنظام السوري عم تشكي من مهاجمتي". The truth is that we are against murder and tanks facing citizens. And we have been attacked for stating that. مش عم نشكي, it's a fact. The correct title would be: "معارضون لمجازر النظام السوري ضد شعبه تعرضوا لهجوم عنيف خلال اعتصامهم أمام السفارة السورية" و هيدا مش خبر لازم يكون إنو ييي حزرو شو, خبرونا إنو هيك هيك صار, متل خبر "أطلق الفنان كذا ألبومه أمس". But anyhow, it is good that the media coverage of this issue has been picking up, including As-Safir yesterday and many TV stations etc... But at the time this article was written, no media gave this incident its right.

Kinda wrote on August 05, 2011 at 10:36 AM
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'Some guy', I think it's about time we stop playing the game of justifying the victimizer and blaming the victim. The people who faced the Syrian moukhabarrat and the SSNP Tuesday night refused to be afraid, the same way the Syrian people are refusing to bow their heads to military rule and are dying by the scores just outside Lebanese borders. We need to stop being afraid of the militias on the streets that practice politics of fear and intimidation to subvert our political opinion, this is where the struggle for our own liberty starts as well.

Jon, as for giving 3elm w Khabar, from what I understand every time that has been done, the Syrian embassy has been flooded with Pro-Assad (Anti-Syria) demonstrators that shouted down any opposition or any statement in support of the Syrian people (obviously there’s a leak somewhere). Even though the police were embassy security, I think it’s pretty damn obvious the protesters weren’t going to harm the embassy while they were being attacked by a score of men with knives, chairs and sticks. The whole point of having an internal security force is to protect individuals from this sort of thing, not to stand aside and let it happen. There’s been enough first-hand accounts about the impassiveness of the police (Maghfar Hbeich even refused to write a complaint about it, read the al akhbar article) to show that this was intentional.

To move forward, we need to promote a culture of security, diversity and debate, not territorial intimidation and the use of force as a legitimate method of subversion.

Aces wrote on August 05, 2011 at 10:47 AM
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This article is a well done account of the horrible events that took place on Tuesday. A lot of these comments are extremely lame as though they are just trying to negate everything the author is saying. I believe this courageous person deserves a lot of kudos for this piece. It really sets a good, yet terrifying, perspective of the occurrences that night.

wtf wrote on August 05, 2011 at 01:39 PM
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@ 'wtf' - The writer of this article would qualify as 'courageous' if she put her name to it. In the name of credibility, I don't think Jadaliyya should be publishing anonymous 'reports' like this one. It seems the writer of this piece has had a personal axe to grind with the SSNP for a while before this incident took place. There are a lot of deliberately misleading bits of information inserted in this article, designed to make the SSNP seem like a sinister, ever-threatening presence in Hamra, which is not true. I'm not a member, or even a sympathizer, but I know they have strict orders not to make any comments at passing women and they are quite disciplined in that regard. Also, that 'mini-van' isn't a gathering point for menacing SSNP members - it's a start-up business that happens to belong to a couple of SSNP members and naturally their friends congregate there for a snack. It's not there to 'intimidate'anyone. I am really surprised that this got past an editor.

Miranda wrote on August 05, 2011 at 05:48 PM
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العزيزة برنا، شكرا لردك، بس انا ما ذكرت بتعليقي انو فكش اجر نصرالله أهم من اصابة الصديق العزيز غسان ولا أي شخص آخر، وأنا موقفي واضح من هالموضوع مش بحاجة بررو. أنا كل شي قلتوا بتعليقي، انو السفير نشرت تعليق وكذلك الأخبار، نزلت على صفحتها الالكترونية الأولى خبر الهجوم. ما بعتقد الاشارة لمغالطة واردة بالمقال، تعتبر "موقف دفاعي" عن الاعلام اللبناني، يللي أنا ذكرت انعدام الاحساس والمهنية عندو.

كندة، بقدر كل شي قلتيه وكل شي عانيتيه مع الرفاق والرفيقات وبقدر شعورك بالاساءة من عنوان لا يرق الى مستوى ما حدث، ولكن كان هدفي الاشارة لانو بنص الخبر كان واضح توزيع المسؤوليات، ولكن بوافقك انو العنوان لم يرق الى المستوى المطلوب. وشكرا

Leen wrote on August 06, 2011 at 01:54 PM
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Well written. These SSNP guys should be ashamed of themselves.

Ibe wrote on August 07, 2011 at 11:21 PM
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@Miranda, I don't know where you live, but I am a single woman who lives on Makdissi street, and I can assure you that the SSNP boys who 'hang out' all day at the cafe are very comfortable verbally harassing women on "their street"

Nadya wrote on August 09, 2011 at 12:55 PM
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@Nadya, I live in Hamra and pass through Makdissi almost every day on foot to run errands and visit friends. I'm foreign, married to a Lebanese man, and speak Arabic. One of the SSNP 'boys' hanging round outside their centre made a remark once, thinking I didn't understand the language. I reported him and he was chastised for it. They really do have strict orders not to hassle any women...if one of them misbehaves, then I'd put it down to that particular man being a twit, not because it's SSNP policy for their members to hassle women. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with how the incident was dealt with. They apologized to me and reprimanded him and removed him from his guard post. Indeed I did not see him again hanging round outside the center as usual. I've been harassed by all sorts since moving here, including by and especially 'security' and army types and I know a woman can get laughed at for trying to report such things. This article wants to paint them as a menacing bunch of lechers, or as though it's SSNP policy to sexually harass women, but I know from personal experience this is just not true and that on the whole, they are well-behaved, at least in that sense. This article bothered me because it seems as though someone wanted to off-load a grudge and did so via this anonymous 'report'.

Miranda wrote on August 13, 2011 at 09:58 PM
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Miranda, your last comment does not address the issue. The author never said it was official SSNP policy to harass women or beat up pro-democracy protesters. That being said, it doesn't mean that no SSNP members harass women or beat up pro-democracy protesters. And more so, just because there is no official policy supporting such behavior, or even if there is official policy condemning this behavior, it doesn't mean that they do not represent, even if badly, the SSNP when they harass women as they stand outside SSNP affiliated places. It also doesn't mean the SSNP isn't responsible and shouldn't be held held responsible for the misconduct by their membership.

That's what party discipline is all about. These people, whether 1, 10, or 50, behave in this way knowing that people know they are SSNP and knowing that people will think twice before engaging them like they would someone who is not part of a political party. And unless the SSNP officially recognizes their actions, condemns them, and takes action against them, then they are just as responsible in my eyes.

I'm so very glad that you have had good experiences living in Hamra, walking down Makdissi street, and having SSNP people held accountable for trespasses against you. That doesn't mean that other people's account of their own experiences aren't true. And that my dear, is the whole issue. Let's assume it wasn't SSNP official policy to send out a counter-protest or just to not attack the protesters. Where is the recognition by the SSNP that it's members acted inappropriately and illegally? Where is the apology to those that were injured by SSNP members? Where is green light from SSNP leadership for the police to arrest and prosecute any member for whom evidence is presented that they acted inappropriately?Again, I am super happy that you had such a meaningful experience. But please, stop delegitimating the experience of many others.

Omar wrote on August 15, 2011 at 07:49 AM

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