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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Monday, February 20, 2006  
    An American print journalist recently pointed out the obvious – that all assassinations and assassination attempts since the Hariri assassination have been aimed at Orthodox Christians and erroneously observed that they were the only major confessional group in Lebanon without a militia.
    Not true – the Baath party, the SSNP, the Communist party and several other ostensibly secular groups have militias and were all founded by Orthodox.
    Just like the Jews were the founders and main proponents of communism in Russia because as a religious minority they weren’t able to achieve power, the Orthodox in the Levant seized upon secular pan Arabism as their only means of achieving power in the mono-religious polity of the Middle east.
    Another reason why Arab Christians pioneered Arabism is that they wanted to establish an identity and commonality (and thus equality) with their compatriots that was secular and wasn’t based on religion but notional race.
    Small wonder when you consider that the constitutions of twenty one out of twenty two Arab states stipulate that the head of state must be Muslim and the unwritten constitutional understanding of the odd state out (Lebanon) stipulates that head of state be a Maronite Catholic.
    They quite simply have no other choice but than to be disingenuously egalitarian.

    4:15 am

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006  
    What next – banning smoking in hospitals?

    Can it be much longer before we see this headline?

    4:00 pm

    Monday, February 13, 2006  
    US VICE PRESIDENT ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTS FRIEND IN HUNTING ACCIDENT. -is that a Dick in your pocket of are you just going to shoot me?
    I can’t decide whether this story sounds like a) a cartoon plot (a la Elmer Fudd) b) a redneck mishap or c) an old fashioned dual (a la Vice President Aaron Burr killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804) so I’m kindly providing all three scenarios that sprang to my mind when I watched the White House spokesman’s press conference live on CNN.
    I wondered how the spokesman or the press could keep a straight face while discussing all the nitpicking minutiae of the episode.
    Either way, it’s not everyday that somebody gets shot by the Vice President of the United States of America and politicians everywhere must be secretly glad at not being at the receiving end for a change.

    8:00 pm

    Thursday, February 09, 2006  
    Stricken with a cold, I’m trying to do a very Lebanese thing – determine the exact moment (date, hour, minute and second) that I caught my cold.
    All Lebanese with a cold can tell you, without any shadow of a doubt, the exact moment they caught their cold.
    Example, ‘’I went outside, from a warm environment to a cold environment, without drinking a glass of water first (a Lebanese superstition - It’s amazing what people will believe if it’s inculcated into them) and caught a cold’’.
    Not very scientific – I recall reading somewhere that you actually catch the germs of a cold twenty four hours before you actually manifest symptoms – but Lebanese swear by it.
    As I’m new at flu forensics, I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact time but am more general about it – I put it down to the change of weather.
    The Hajji (my mother) is particularly good at flu forensics and can determine the exact time she caught a cold right down to the millisecond and is always ''advertising'' some upcoming cold that fortunately doesn’t often eventuate - ''I swear I'm getting a cold - I must have caught it when...''

    Mum isn’t a Hajji per se in that she hasn’t made the pilgrimage to Mecca but the term Hajj/Hajji is also an honorific for an older Muslim man/woman regardless of whether they’ve actually undertaken the pilgrimage or not.

    A friend recently described an attractive women he met as having ‘’an ugly girl’s personality’’ - that is she was friendly, down-to-earth, modest etc (a rare bird indeed).
    Speaking of which, do you notice that you hardly ever see two very attractive women who are friends (except in porn movies)?
    I think that the reason for that is that the competition and rivalry between the two would be too intense.
    That’s why you’ll often see combinations of a really attractive girl and a really ugly girl who are friends because the attractive girl prefers the friendship of the ugly girl as she is no threat to her (the female equivalent of a eunuch when it comes to luring away men) and the ugly girl is drawn to be friends with the attractive girl merely because she is attractive and every ugly girl wants to be friends with an attractive girl (something that she’s not).

    12:00 pm

    Monday, February 06, 2006  
    -individuals, churches and private property attacked as alleged target, Danish Embassy, is left untouched

    You’re offended at pictures depicting your prophet as a terrorist, so what do you do? – You commit acts of terror in protest.
    Your religion prohibits depictions of your prophet.
    Here’s a novel idea – don’t depict your prophet, don’t publish pictures depicting your prophet and don’t look at pictures depicting your prophet.
    Depicting the Prophet is forbidden in Islam but that is the beginning and end of it – it is obviously not forbidden in other religions.
    And that is the exact problem most people have with the extraterritorial jurisdiction Muslims try to impose on the rest of us.
    Let them prohibit depictions of the Prophet in Saudi Arabia and protest against any such depictions in Tripoli, Sidon and Yemen for that matter but they have no business protesting in Christian Achrafiyeh against something published in Christian Denmark (none of those places are Muslim thus do not concern them).
    Moreover, in a sectarian powder keg such as Lebanon it is dangerous for Muslims to protest in a Christian area or vice versa for that matter.
    But I suppose it is more practical for them to protest in a Christian area.
    After all, how do you (further) trash a Muslim area – burn down a falafel stand?
    Anyway, what ever damage they’d do would probably be an improvement.
    While today’s protestors were a bunch of misfits, it is inaccurate to say that they don’t represent Islam.
    They are the tip of the iceberg, the vocal minority who merely represent the silent majority.
    For weeks Muslim political leaders, spiritual leaders and ordinary citizens have been whipping up this hysteria and now they have the nerve to turn around (a 180 degree turn) and condemn these protests after all their incitement and sedition.
    They started the fire and now they turn around and pretend to want to put it out like those firemen who start fires only so they can put them out and appear like heroes.
    Even their condemnation is half-hearted – Sheik Saad Hariri told a press conference in Paris that ‘’some of the protestors were honourable’’.
    He would say that – his Future (sic) Movement were the main organizers of the event, advertising it on their rabble-rousing television station all day.
    This is no curate’s egg*(or should that be the Sheik’s egg?) and should be condemned outright and unequivocally.
    The protests shouldn’t have been allowed in the first place, particularly after similar scenes in Damascus yesterday.
    There is no such thing as freedom of speech for people who don’t believe in freedom of speech for others and are in essence protesting against freedom of expression (the publishing of the cartoons).
    Leaders should be responsible and should calm people down and set a better example rather than lead the baying pack.
    There is not better example of this and no greater contrast than the way Christian leaders responded to the attacks on churches and Christians today – all Christian leaders urged their followers to show restraint and refused to drag their martyred people into this sectarian trap.
    Christians have gathered to pray at the churches that were attacked.
    Look at the contrast – Muslims go on a murderous rampage because someone squiggles a few lines on a piece of paper and the Christians who have been physically attacked pray.
    As General Aoun said, there may have been Syrians, Palestinians, and Kurds etc amongst the protestors but the fact is that this happened on Lebanese soil and it is up to the Lebanese authorities and security forces to prevent this and promptly nip it in the bud when it occurs.
    Yet they go around licensing these protestors and there were sheiks actually participating in the protests.
    As I mentioned before, only a miniscule minority of Muslims are terrorists but they are sustained by the silent majority who either condone the sentiment behind the terrorism if not explicitly condoning the act of terrorism itself or are silent to it (thus indirectly complicit).
    What happened today should be condemned outright and anybody who doesn’t condemn this is complicit.
    -my simple one-word terror test

    This leads very nicely to my very own patented terrorism test – it’s quite simple and doesn’t need elaborate information, evidence etc, it just requires one three letter word and that word is ‘’but’’.
    ‘I.e. ‘’we condemn such and such an act but…’’
    Stop right there – you’re a terrorist.
    E.g. ‘’we condemn 9/11 but America’s role in Palestine, wherever is wrong.
    When you condemn heinous acts you have to condemn them outright, unequivocally with no justification or rationalization.
    Anyone who says ‘’but…’’ in that context is a terrorist.

    Protestors also expressed their indignation about Wiley Coyote never catching the Roadrunner, Donald Duck not wearing pants, Porky Pig being unclean, Dexter being allowed to make weapons of mass destruction while they’re not and other cartoon outrages.

    Art and artists should bring people together not drive them apart, so here’s my humble artistic contribution to easing tensions and hopefully bringing people together at this sensitive time.
    ‘’What if Allah was one of us
    Just a suicide bomber on a bus’’
    (apologies to Joan Osborne)

    *n. esp Brit. a thing that is partly good and partly bad (originating in story of a meek curate who, given a stale egg when dining with the bishop, assures his host that ‘parts of it are excellent’) - OED

    7:30 pm

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006  
    It’s quite rich and ironic to hear Sunnis chiding sections of the Maronite community for not being anti-Syrian now that the Syrians have gone (thus don’t need to be anti-Syrian now) when you consider how recently they took up this cause – jumping onto the bandwagon practically as the Syrians were withdrawing ( essentially shouting ‘’and don’t come back!’’ at the retreating Syrians).
    The Sunnis put up with the assassination of their Mufti, another Prime Minister (the martyr Rashid Karami) and countless other coreligionists but it took the assassination of their six billion dollar man to finally bring the mercantile Sunnis around.
    The Maronites were anti-Syrian (anti-occupation rather) when it mattered – when the Syrians were here!
    It's easy to be anti-Syrian now that the Syrians have gone.
    General Aoun summed it up best when he responded to criticism that he had allied with formerly pro-Syrian politicians during the elections by quite simply saying ‘’the Syrians have gone’’.
    General Aoun has copped a lot of flack for his alleged turnaround but he has in fact remained consistent in that he used to be an opposition leader during the Syrian era (in fact one of the only opposition leaders – he has rightfully said that he was the opposition) and now he is still an opposition leader.

    1:45 am

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