Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anti-Syrian Racism in Beirut's Southern Suburbs


Where has all the common sense gone? Read this article on Al-Akhbar English. 
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In Beirut’s southern suburbs, Syrian shops are being forcibly closed and their owners kicked out. Syrians are being barred from their places of work. They are targeted because they are Syrians – because the families of the nine Lebanese kidnapped in Syria last May are desperate for answers. But can any Syrian object? No. They will be beaten and humiliated.
This has been going on collectively and in an unrestrained manner for the past three days, but it’s as if nothing is happening.
Where are the security forces? Where is the army? Where are the municipalities and the mayors? Where are the wise men? Even in the media, the issue is treated with little seriousness.
The mobs attacking Syrians have an old vendetta against any foreign worker, having been convinced that the Syrians are “stealing their daily bread.” It is a tired grudge that has nothing to do with the situation in Syria today.
Adham Zoughaib, the son of one of the kidnapped Lebanese, has played a major role in the events of the past few days, most of which have taken place in Hay al-Sellom. He rejects the idea that the actions are racist.
“We treated Syrian workers well and did not beat any of them up,” he explains. “But everyone needs to know that the families of the kidnapped have lost their minds and they don’t want to be patient anymore.”
“We cannot depend on the state, nor our people. Our parties cannot exert pressure, because we know that the situation is delicate for them,” he adds. “So we will take care of it.”
So, what do the authorities say? Nothing. Their utter silence is frightening. Minister of Labor Salim Jreissati is part of the ministerial committee formed a few months ago to follow up on the situation of Lebanese kidnapped in Syria. Today, all he has to say is that “the file on the Lebanese kidnapped in Syria is being handled in a serious manner.”
However, Jreissati knows there is no serious handling. In private, he repeats that “there is nothing new on the issue.” But he does not say this in public because he does not want to anger the families.
Zoughaib says, “The interior minister is no longer answering my phone calls.” The state, he says, “took us for stupid when it claimed that an interior ministry delegation visited Turkey and saw the kidnapped. We later found out that the delegation was nothing but a Syrian person and a Lebanese university student. They did go to Turkey, but did not sit with the kidnapped. However, they came back to tell us that our families are alright.”
Daniel Zoughaib, brother of Abbas, says that they “oppose bigotry against the Syrians. But what choices did the state leave us?”
“Arab and international opinion, which supports the Syrian revolution, should know to what extent the revolution hurts the Syrian people themselves,” he spews. “Do they think they can kidnap people in the name of freedom and expect that no Syrian in the diaspora will be harmed? This is what their hands committed!”

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