طلعتـريحتكم بين القاعدة الشعبية والخطاب الطبقي

نزلت اليوم على المظاهرة التي دعت إليها مجموعة تعتمد شعار #طلعتـريحتكم، مع إنو على حد علمي هذا شعار تتبناه قاعدة شعبية غير محصورة بتنظيم محدد. المهم إنو أنا نزلت لسببين: الأول لرغبتي لكون جزء من تحرك شعبي واقعي يتحدى النظام الطائفي بمكمله، والثاني بسبب ضغط ناشطي “الليلة وضحاها” وتنظيرهم على الأشخاص الذين لم يشاركوا في اعتصام البارحة.

قبل ما أنزل، اتصلت ببعض الأصدقاء لأحصل على بعض التفاصيل عن اليوم واحتمال يكون في حدن ممكن انزل معه أو معها. بعرف إنو هناك اجتماع في تعاونية “ضمة” للتنظيم وقمت رحت احضره. ضمن الإجتماع صار كلام عن المطالب اللي ممكن ربطها بهذه التحركات ضمن الهدف الأبعد نحو اسقاط النظام الطائفي الحالي. ولكني بتعرف على معلومتين كتير مهمين:

1- الإجتماع كان مستقل عن منظمي #طلعتـريحتكم ويبدو أنه المنظمين غير مستعدين للمشاركة بهالمطالب “لأنو ما بدهن يسيّسوا القصة”. غريب بس ماشي الحال، بياكل.

2- المعلومة الثانية تتعلق بتجمع كان من المفترض حصوله البارحة لذكرى مجرزة الغوطة في سوريا بالسلاح الكيماوي في ٢٠١٣. التجمع كان المفترض حصوله في ساحة الشهداء البارحة على الساعة ٧:٣٠، أي من بعد المظاهرة. قام اتصل منظمين التجمع بمنظمي المظاهرة واستفسروا منهم إذا بيكملوا بالتجمع أو بيلغوه من بعد الهجوم الذي حصل على المتظاهرين. كان الرد بالطلب منهم بالغاء التجمع بدلاً من جمع النشاطين مع بعض أو حتى افساح مجال للتجمع ليحصل. غريب الإنزواء بس ما شي الحال، كمان بياكل.

المهم إنوأنا نزلت على الساعة ستة على ساحة رياض الصلح. وكنت لحالي فصرت أمشي مع الأشخاص حولي من ساحة الشهداء لرياض الصلح. المشهد كان غريب بس يمكن توقعه. المظاهرة ما كانت جامعة الكل مثل ما كانت أسمع. بدأت أمشي من الجامع والحشود كانت كتير رواق. هيدول مجموعة شباب وصبايا جايين بنظرات الشمس والضحك على شي مش كتير متذكره بس بتذكر إنو كان شي سخيف شوي. وعلى الجهة الثانية حدن نازل مع كلب صغير على رباط. بلشت قول لحالي إنو شكلها ميتة اليوم.

قربت أكتر لوصلت على مكان في باص بنص الطريق وعليه شخصين عم يجربوا يحفزوا العالم ويطلقوا الشعارات. كانت شوي غريبة لإنو أنا معوّد شوف عدة أشخاص يتنابوا على التشجيع كل ما ينبح صوت اللي قبلهم. بس هيدول الإثنين ما تزحزحوا من عن الباص. شوي بيطلعوا ولد عمره مش أكتر من عشر سنين يقول “ما بدي حكم الأزعر”، بيرجعوا بيطلعوا شاب مقعّد ليقلنا إنو هو ما في يمشي بس نزل وبياخذ الميكروفون أحد الأبطال الإثنين ليكبّ شوية تنظير للي ما شاركوا اليوم وبيقول له “ثورة ثورة”، وأخيراً بتطلع واحدة شكلها كانت نازلة لأنها مزعوجة من السوريين أو شي ما فهمت كتير أنو قاموا الأبطال الإثنين بأشطوها الميكروفون وبيصرخوا “ما بدنا عنصرية”. شكراً على عملية الإنقاذ السريعة. من بعدها بلشت أغاني جوليا بطرس والنشيد اللبناني يتخللهما أبطال الباص عم بيقولولنا قديش الكل من طرابلس لشتورة عم يتضامنوا مع المظاهرة ويطلبوا من كل وسائل الإعلام إنو تقرب عليهم بعد عشر دقائق لأنهم رح يلقوا البيان (وما ننسى الكاميرا الطائرة في الأجواء). قررت من بعدها إنوا ما بقدر اتحمل كتير، خصوصي مع الإجتماعيات اللي كانت عن تحصل حولي (يي إطلّعوا مين هوني، حكيني، يي ضيعت كل أرقامكم إنت حكيني).

لما وصلت على الفاصل بين قوى الأمن الداخلي والمتظاهرين، كان المشهد مختلف. صارت الفئة أكثر شعبية، عالم مش كتير “كلاس” متل ورا. شباب شالحين
التي-شيرت ورجال كبار بالعمر مبين من لبسهم إنهم مش طبقة ميّسورة بالدخل المالي. كان في نشاط أكبر بكتير، شباب وصبايا ونسوان ورجال رايحين جايين. الكل عم يصرخ ويشتم بالحكومة والنظام؛ “يا سلام ويا لوطي” و “الليلة ليلة عيد وكس أخت الحكومة واللي ما بيعيد” وغيرها. وكانوا عم بيكبوا كل شي بلاستيك معهم على قوات الردع ولما بلشوا بمدافع الميّ، بلشت الحجارة تنكب من المتظاهرين لترجع من الأمن وتصيب حدن براسه.

سهلة نقول إنو هيدول أشخاص عنصرين وعنفيين ولا-سلميين ومدري شو كمان. بس أنا شفت قصص كتير حلوة كمان:

1- اللي بيوقعوا من قذف الميّ أو الحجارة، بينطوا أربعة يلموهم على جنب أو لعند الإسعاف.

2- لما بيجي واحد يقول لثلاث بنات إنوا صار لازم تطلعوا لما تتأذوا، بيردوا عليه إنو هني باقيين ومتلوا متلهن.

3- لما تصرخ اللي واقفة حدي “وصّل الميّ على البيوت، مش على الشعب يا عكروت” ويرددوا معها الكلّ، بتحس إنوا في كتير منهم عنجد بدهن الميّ توصل على بيتهم من جديد.

4- ولما يطلع شباب وصبايا عم يجربوا يوقفوا اللي بدو يكب الحجرة اللي أصابته من الأمن، بتعرف إنو الكل هون عم يتعلم مش بس شو يعني تحركات سلمية بس ليش مهم نكون سلميين.

المظاهرة اللي أنا نزلت عليها كانت من الفاصل بين قوات الأمن والمتظاهرين لغاية الباص والبطلين اللي ما كنا عم نسمع صوتهم وما رجعت شفتهم وأنا فالل. المظاهرة كانت مفصولة طبقياً وزخمها كان أولها مع تصادم المتظاهرين مع الأمن. زخمها كان عند الفاصل مش على أساس عدد المتظاهرين هونيك. بل بسبب اللي كان عم يحصل من تحوّل ما كنت متخيّل إني يمكن شوفوا شي يوم قريب. أشخاص قرفوا من نظام فاسد فنزلوا واصطدموا مع منظومته الأمنية. شيء خيالي من بعد أجيال عم تنحقن باللا-مبالاة يوم بعد يوم. وعلى الأرض كان الكل عم يتعلم قصص وتكتيكات عن التحركات الشعبية والسلمية واللا-سلمية و غيرها. بعضها قصص صغيرة متل كيف تخلي عينك فوقك لتقدر ترصد الحجارة النازلة وكيف تتمسك بالمعالم الجامدة حولك خلال قذف مدافع الميّ، وبعضها أكبر مثل مكر قوات الأمن اللي عارفة غضبك وناطرتك تكب أي استفزاز لتكبّ بطشها.Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 12.15.05 AM

في النهاية، ما فيّ نقول غير عيب على كل شخص عم يجرّب يحكي بإسم قاعدة شعبية هو بعيد عنها ويجرب يمحورها حسب أجندة ونظرة ضيقة. عيب نقصي متظاهرين على أنهم “مندسين” لأنهم مش على نفس الطبقة الإجتماعية “المحترمة”. نحن بعدنا عم نتعلم شو تعني تحركات شعبية وشو يعني سلمية وغير سلمية وأهميتها. وهذا هو أحسن شي يمكن عم يطلع من هذه التظاهرات.

Quote

The production of authentic victims, or victim authenticity, is an inherently voyeuristic or pornographic practice that, no matter how carefully or sensitively it is done, transforms the position of the ‘victim’ in his or her society and produces a language of victimization for him or her to speak on the international stage… The remove between the human rights professional and the people they purport to represent can reinforce a global divide of wealth, mobility, information and access to audience. Human rights professionals consequently struggle, ultimately in vain, against a tide of bad faith, orientalism and self-serving sentimentalism.

— Madlingozi (2010). On Transitional Justice Entrepreneurs and the Production of Victims. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2(2), 208-228

Video

Anna Naklab’s “Supergirl”

A remake of Reamonn’s “Supergirl”, one of my favorite songs when I was younger (back when we used to listen to songs on the radio primarily and the CD player if we wanted to go fancy).

Anyway, the video is fun with a love/attraction story between two women. Best part, there is not a single rainbow, nor do they get married, nor join the army, nor do they get gay bashed or any mainstream hooks on queer issues.

حابب تنزل على مخفر حبيش…عفواً، قصدي رأس بيروت

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تعريف المواطنين غير شامل على كل الأشخاص. بالتحديد، تنحصر الإشارة إلى الأشخاص من جنسية لبنانية (أو أوروبية أو شمال أميركية أو ما شابه) مع أوراق ثبوتية كاملة ومن طبقة اقتصادية غنية ولكن يمكن ادماج بعض الفئات من الطبقة الوسطى إذا كان في وساطة. تنطبق معايير آخرى بتفاوت مختلف حسب الجنس وميول الشخص وكيف ي/تحب ممارسة الجنس وبعض التفاصيل الأخرى

يوجد نشاط “كتير مهضوم” غداً يوم الخميس 26 من آذار.

صراحةً، أنا وصلت إلى رابط النشاط بالصدفة ولم يكن في حيلتي غير أن أصاب بجلطة خفيفة وأنا أقرأ التفاصيل. النشاط منظم من قبل مجموعة بإسم “Search for Common Ground-sfcg” وهي عبارة عن دعوة عامة للجميع لزيارة مخفر رأس بيروت بين الساعة 10صباحاً لغاية 4 من بعد الظهر (يعني ضمن دوام العمل للأشخاص الموظفين).

والله مش مزحة، الجماعة عم يحكوا جد! بين الساعة 10ص و4ب.ظ.، يمكن لأي شخص أن يزور المخفر “ويقابل عناصر الشرطة ويستفسر منهم عن عملهم اليومي ويتفرج على المركز الجديد ويكتشف أقسام المركز المختلفة”. و على ما يبدو أن هذا النشاط “سوف يجعل المركز أكثر انفتاحاً للجميع (more accessible) ويشجع المواطنين للذهاب إلى السلطة الأمنية فيه عند الحاجة”.

بغض النظر عن القفزة النوعية بين تصوّر النشاط والتخيلات حول التغيرات التي سوف يحدثها، كنت مهتم كثيراً بزيارة قسم الآداب في نفس المبنى بحيث إنه من أحد الأقسام في المبنى نفسه وإن كان إدارياً منفصل. ولكن يبدو أن سياسة الباب المقتوح هي أكثر إلى شباك صغير مع فتحة متواضعة.

كنت أفضل لو أستطيع مشاركتكم بعض المحادثات الطفيفة التي حصلت ولكن يبدو أنه ممنوع التعليق. فقد قامت sfcg بإزالة جميع الأسئلة والتعليقات ومنعت وضع أي تعليق جديد. لحسن الحظ إن هذا التكتيك غير مفاجئ وقام العديد من الأشخاص بأخذ نسخة عن التعليقات.

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عموماً ما كان في جواب، لا على سؤالي ولا على أسئلة الأشخاص الأخرين حول امكانية زيارة غرف التعذيب أو مصادرة الهواتف وخرق المعلومات الشخصية عليها أو إن أمكن حضور أحد الأصدقاء السوريين/ات معنا للنشاط بدون الحاجة للمرور بالأمن العام.

Dozens arrested for “perversion” in a huge raid in Cairo

Crackdown on queers continues to escalate in Egypt!! 33 arrested men in a hammam raid…

a paper bird

Arrested men from the Bab el-Bahr hammam being herded into a Central Security truck, December 7, 2014. The woman with a camera to the R may be Mona Iraqi. Arrested men from the Bab el-Bahr hammam being herded into a Central Security truck, December 7, 2014. The woman with a cameraphone to the right appears to be Mona Iraqi.

At about 10 PM last night, December 7, police carried out a massive raid on a hammam (bathhouse) in the Ramsis area of Cairo, not far from the main railway station. They arrested many men — dozens, reportedly — and hauled them, stripped naked like concentration-camp inmates, to the trucks. Someone living nearby who watched the assault wrote on social media that “police together with Central Security forces attacked the bath.” (Central Security, Amn el-Merkezi, is an army force mainly composed of raw recruits. it takes over many policing duties in an increasingly militarized Egypt.) “40 people were arrested. Some were beaten up in the baths, and they were all arrested with no clothes.” He said “a female journalist and a cameraman” arrived “before they attacked the baths. She tried to enter and…

View original post 2,257 more words

Shifting Focus from Gender-Based Violence

This is the aftermath of the story of Nisreen Rouhana who was murdered by her husband on the 25th of November 2014. Tragically, that is the day that commemorates the international day for the elimination of violence against women and starts the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Nisreen is the ninth victim to domestic violence this year and the fourth after the implementation of the law that protects women from domestic violence. A news cover by OTV asks, “Isn’t the law a sufficient deterrent?”.

I think it is not. The law is never a deterrent. It organizes what goes around in society. It also decides who gets punished; and punishment never deters. We are told that it does by various parties like the established prison industrial complex in various western countries (local too maybe?). But it does not. Punishment is reactionary. It acts on the body and the soul (not the biblical one) of the sole-perso and though it desires to propagate it’s teaching to the population, it can never do that.

Men do not beat and kill women because they think that they can get away with it. Men beat and kill women because they have been taught that they can. Because they know that they will eventually be exonerated; they will be called mad or angry beyond sanity during the act (article 251 reduces the offense if it was done in anger).

Men beat and kill women because we have a system that does not challenge the power of men over women but perpetuate the concept of women-hood as possible objects of possession. It tells men that it is your right to extend your authority and presence over women.

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Msallem contemplates getting a new costume for a career as a vigilante against “evil”.

Evil does not kill women like Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Msallem thinks. Nor is it due to seeing too much violence on TV as Lebanon debate declares.

Violence against women should be understood through realities. It should be understood though an inequality of power and privilege between women and men.

Violence against women should be understood through perspectives and tools that defy the making of patriarchy. We can not use the same tools given by this system to defy it. We need to acknowledge and defy the power of men over women and work against this imbalance whenever possible.

SOGI-related events that you should go to this week

Three events are taking place this week that are really interesting to those of you following issues of gender and sexuality.

(I am organizing two of them, so this is slightly a bit of shameless promotion..shhh)

1. Round table discussion on cases of “Transwomen’s Navigation of Arrest and Detention in Beirut”

The round table discussion will tackle the paper to be published by  Lebanon Support, written by Ms Qubbaia and Mr Saleh, which looks into detention practices as manifested in the cases of detained transwomen in the context of wider policing of gender and sexuality norms, bodies, and behaviors in Beirut

Held by: Lebanon Support
Date: Thursday 30th of October, 2004
Time: 6:00PM
Location: Adlieh, Beirut – Najib Azouri Street, Shaghouri Building (3rd floor)
Click for map

2. “Dardashat Jandariya”; Selling Sex: Intersections of Morality, Patriarchy, Violence, Consent, Freedom and Feminism

Where does Lebanese civil society stand with regards to the selling of sex? What is the Lebanese legal context with regards to commercial sexual services or performances? What are the major differences between commercial sex, trafficking, and exploitation and how can we disentangle them? What are potential implications of awareness-raising, organization, and criminalization? Finally, how do we ensure that such discussions do not exclude people who sell sex from representing themselves?

The talk aims to provide a space for an open discussion that encompasses sexual freedoms, feminism, patriarchy, and morality

Held By: Arab Foundation For Freedom & Equality
Date: Thursday 30th of October, 2014
Time: 7:30PM
Location: AltCity – Hamra, Montreal Building (1st/M floor)
Click for map

3. Article 534: Contesting Dominant Activist Discourse and Examining Alternative Strategies

– How has article 534 been interpreted and used by police forces, the
legal apparatus and activists?
– How do the rulings in the Batroun (2009) and Metn (2014) courts
shape these readings? How can we use these rulings for further
advocacy work?
– What are the dominant activist discourses and strategies on article
534? What are the fallouts and limits of these discourses and
strategies?
– Is working towards annulling article 534 the best strategy in
decriminalizing same sex acts and/or desires? How does it fit into the
broader efforts to counter and fight against the policing of
sexuality, sexual desires, and acts?
– What alternative and more inclusive strategies can be envisioned and pursued?

Held By; Helem
Date: Friday 31st of October, 2014
Location: AltCity – Hamra, Montreal Building (1st/M floor)
Click for map

Visibility and Representation

A while ago I came across a comment on a page that featured an interview that LBCI did with me during the IDAHOT2014 event. The comment was made from an anonymous profile and the person was basically telling me how brave I am to go on TV without blurring my face and so on. I usually get that feedback from several people and I always find it very hard to come up with a reply to these comments. I do understand the good intentions that these people have so I’m writing this post to clarify my position on this matter.

Simply put, I do not believe that it is brave for me or anyone in my position to go on TV or any news outlet and talk openly about queer issues. I will explain a little more about positionality in this post but let me first start with the reason why actions of visibility like this are not courageous.

It would be brave for people to speak out against violations or matters of injustice when their actions would most likely result in a negative reaction to them personally. So it would be brave for a woman to report domestic violence or an assault and to talk about it publically since we live in a society that still largely subordinates women and views their actions as an assault in itself on the institution of marriage and family. Similarly a migrant worker who speaks out about racism would be considered brave since our society still denies that its laws in themselves are racist (Kafala system, class segregation…). Now when it come to queer speaking up about alternative sexualities, things are not as simple and this comes back to positionality.

Positionality is basically the circumstances that defines your status in society, your worldview and how the world/society views you. It is determined by circumstances that are related to class, race, social status, what you do for work, where you live, etc.

So let’s put those two concepts together; positionality and victimhood/marginalization. When we add the position of the person to his/her marginal status (queers, migrant workers, survivors of gender based violence, etc…) we end up with a spectrum or a gradient of marginalization. Your status in society will influence how far away or close you are to the margins set in society. Obsviously, the closer you are to the margins of society then the more likely that you will experience violations, policing of your body and so on.

Now let’s go back to me and look at my positionality a bit closer. I identify as a queer person which automatically throws me off to the margins of society. But I have some privileges working for me that I was socially ascribed to from birth. These privileges of being male, cis-gendered, coming from a middle class family and later on able to afford a higher education and getting a skilled job, end up pulling me closer to the mainstream/centers of power.  In short this is my positionality in society.

This positinality affords me several advantages. I am able to be speak out about my sexuality within my family settings, at work, at university and so on without any actual loss of status. So when I end up doing an interview somewhere, I know that I will not have to face any problems from anyone because of it. My family is not going to kick me out, the police station is not going to give me a call for questioning and I can still go down to the mini market at the bottom of my building and get whatever I need without the any remark or a smirk from the cashier. As a matter of fact, the only time that I got a remark after an interview was from the guy working at the bakery in my neighborhood. He just smiled and said that he saw me on TV and that was it.

So what is the problem with queer people going speaking out publically about queerness or about their own sexuality or about being “out”?! It is actually more about how they are perceived via these news outlets and how they are portrayed.

Queer Beirut (and the “arab” world and the MENA region) are the wet dream of media outlets looking at “Gay Arabs”. It is a question of representation. Most media will not go through the trouble of looking closely at who says what as long as they hear what they want to hear and the message is really simple; that it is really hard to be gay in the Arab world. They want us to show them how much discrimination we face and how backward out society is for not accepting us. In a recent article in queerty, they warned gay people from coming to Lebanon because it is so homophobic since we do not allow gay marriage, lack any anti-discrimination law and don’t allow queers to serve in the military. This is a very in-your-face example about the global LGBT movement trying to push notions of what gay people should be doing and what it is to be queer. 

At this point, I would like to stress that I am not trying to deny people their victimhood or their suffering. But I want us to be able to look critically about how we are represented and how we end up representing other queers. So these media outlets will come, interview those couple of people who fit into the messages that they want to send out and edit the parts that do not fit it.

Other than my queerness, I am to most extent very normative[1] and most people who are out in the region are also quite normative. I can never and should never claim that I can represent other queers and this applies to everyone else. Some people out there knows their politics and do not make any claims like this but sadly there are a lot of people who claim this representation. Normative queerness does not advance the movement much. It really does not do anything to make things better.

We can not take at face value the criminalization of same-sex relations by the Lebanese law. The police are only interested in the people who falls at the intersections of the different layers of class, race, sex etc… We clearly see this by examining the reports who usually gets arrested; non-Lebanese, trans* (even though there is nothing criminalized trans* bodies), refugees, etc… The people who we see on the TV and in interviews usually do not fit into these categories or have a certain positionality that enables them to transcend the interest of policing. In other words, the police are not really interested to go after employed, middle class gay guys as they would to poor, refugee, Syrian, trans* (etc…) queers.

 

Again, I am not denying anyone’s suffering or victimhood but if I see one more news article about a brave gay man being out in Lebanon I will literally throw up. It is important for queers who are “out” to speak about homophobia and transphobia (as well as other nasty phobias and –ists) but we all need to remember that they are not able in most cases to represent the queers of Lebanon. The real heroes are those queers who have to actually negotiate their positions in society over and over every single day.


[1] By normative, I mean being able to negotiate and pass through the social checkpoints easily and without social/legal penality.

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The ISF arrests people under the charge of “Liwat”

2014-06-18 11.52.14

For a couple of minutes, the Lebanese ISF twitter account featured a tweet that announced the arrest of two people without any identification papers under the charge of “liwat” or what is more appropriately termed homosexuality/same-sex attraction.  The ISF should brush up on the law since there is no charge as such. Article 534 that is erroneously being used to target same sex intercourse is only applicable to “un-natural sexual intercourse”.

The tweet was up for a while then taken down but not before it was caught by other news outlets. I came to knowledge about it via someone who follows their account. Whether this is a true incident or not remains to be seen.