It is not a democracy, it is a federal theocracy.
It is not beautiful, it is an ugly disfigured polluted third world garbage dump.
It is not free; books and films are censored, and General Security can do what it wants. It goes after artists and writers, but protects criminal politicians and never investigates any real crimes against ordinary citizens. The function of law enforcement in Lebanon is to to be a crony for the political and religious establishment.
People are not civilized and "modern" as they want you to believe: The Lebanese believe in gods, saints, mullahs, prophets.... they are as backward as people in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia are, with the difference that they don't wear traditional clothes. So they look modern, when in fact they are essentially primitive neanderthals. Beneath the veneer, there is nothing but rotten substance.
People in Lebanon are racist to the core: They import maids from poorer countries and treat them like slaves.
There is no respect for the the environment: Ugly buildings everywhere built on where tress and forests used to be. Entire mountains are dug out to build a road leading from the seacoast to the palace of a retired former Lebanese president who was a puppet for the Syrian occupation. Beaches are taken by private developers who built ugly building right on the water for the exclusive use of the rich and filthy and wealthy.
Lebanese lead a hypocritical life: They are ashamed of themselves and spend their time pretending they are not who they are. They spend their time and money being crappy imitations of what they think is best about the west, yet they never import what is good about the west (true freedom, true democracy, a belief in human dignity, etc). In many ways, the Lebanese are like Western-dressed Saudis or Afghans. I have yet to see one Lebanese walking around in traditional dress. The Lebanese are not authentic: Everything you see in them is a fake imitation of someone else. They way they wine and dine or party; they way they lead their everyday lives, they way they dress. Nothing that a Lebanese does is done out of genuine interest or belief; it is always done to prove something to others. Look at me, I drive a Mercedes (ergo, I am rich, while the truth is that I am deep in debt). I have a maid (ergo, I am successful and upper class, not like the other scum Lebanese around me, when the fact is that my maid is a more decent civilized human being then me). Look at me, I go to the best restaurants (ergo, I am sophisticated and civilized, unlike the rest of the peasants around me, when in fact I am as barbaric and unsophisticated as can be). etc...
One instance of the lies propagated by the Lebanese about their so-called freedoms is that their General Security is constantly banning books and films, and interdicting political activists who stray away from the dictates of religion and traditional politics... Below is a movie by a Lebanese movie-maker: It has just been banned by General Fucking Security. The current democratically-elected president of Tunisia used to be an activist for freedom and democracy: The Lebanese General Security prohibited him from entering Lebanon a couple of years ago when he was a freedom activist. He had been invited to Lebanon to speak on freedom and democracy.
The Lebanese never invent anything worthwhile. They do not make their own clothes or their own food. They live off begging rich Arabs, Americans and Europeans to constantly bail their failing economy, and never say thank you. To the contrary, they turn around and make racist remarks about they, the Lebanese, are superior to the Arabs, or smarter than the Europeans and the Americans, etc...
We are a disgusting people. We have no core. We are a prostitute nation that raises the banner of whomever we are in bed with, but never find anything of substance inside us to raise our own domestic native indigenous banner. We have nothing to contribute to the world. The only time that a Lebanese makes any contribution to humankind is WHEN HE/SHE LEAVES LEBANON AND ENCOUNTERS GENUINE PEOPLES AND SOCIETIES.... Lebanese who live in Lebanon are crushed by the religious-political oppression that surrounds them and live like cattle in a barn. They are herded from one dictatorship to another, and never rise up against their predicament. Imagine: Here is a people who have been living in a state of war for 40 years, they have been killed and maimed, their children have emigrated to the far flung corners of the world, they have been abused like no other people ever have... yet, they have never attempted to do anything about it. After abuse like this, even animals have a reaction. But not the Lebanese: I guess kebbe and tabboule have a narcotic effect on their stupid brains....
FORM: LEBANON NOW:
Sunday, December 18, 2011 | 16:06 Beirut
Banning Beirut, again
Talking to Danielle Arbid
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Lebanese director Danielle Arbid’s latest film, Beirut Hotel, has been banned in Lebanon. The film’s release originally scheduled for January 19 was canceled after General Security’s censorship committee argued that “the film’s depiction of the political situation would endanger Lebanon’s security.” It insisted that all the sequences mentioning the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafic Hariri should be removed. Arbid vehemently refused to cut out any scene and decided to take things a step further by taking legal action against General Security.
The plot revolves around Zoha, a young Lebanese singer who’s trying to break free from her ex-husband. She meets Mathieu, a French lawyer on business in Lebanon and has a wild love affair with him. However, Mathieu is suspected of being a spy.
Originally produced for French-German TV channel Arte, Beirut Hotel, which is rich in political references, sex scenes and violence, is scheduled to air prime time on January 20 with an expected audience of some 1.5 million viewers.
It was also selected for the 2011 Locarno Film Festival official competition and was recently shown in Glasgow and Edinburgh as part of the 2011 French Film Festival UK.
Is it the politics in the movie or the erotic nature of it that caused it to be banned?
Danielle Arbid: General Security asked us to remove the scenes which talk about the political situation [in Lebanon]. I am against removing any scene from any movie; if we remove them, one will no longer understand the story because the [events] are interrelated. General Security knows very well that the scenes cannot be cut, and they also know that I will not agree to it.
Is this the first time you’ve had to deal with General Security censoring your material?
Arbid: No, it is not the first time. I have mentioned this on my Facebook page and in press releases that it has happened many times before.
The movie is currently showing at the Dubai Film Festival. What are some of the reactions you’re getting from the Lebanese audience there?
Arbid: This is the first time my movie is shown at the Dubai Film Festival. Last week, I was in Edinburgh and Glasgow showing Beirut Hotel. There were two types of reactions: some really liked the movie, while others thought it was bad for Lebanon’s reputation. My movies are like that; they portray strong emotions, violence and sex… It is very simple, people either like my movies or they don’t.
I’m not commercial, and I refuse to advertise my movies. My goal is to involve my viewers. I don’t want them to forget my work in an hour, I want it to stay with them.
We know that the movie will air on [the French-German TV channel] Arte. When should we be expecting it?
Arbid: It will run starting January 20, prime time. During the competition in Le Carnot, the movie was shown two more times due to popular demand. We will most probably run in the Lebanese press the exact day and time of when the movie will be showing on Arte.
What will you do regarding the ban of your movie in Lebanese theatres?
Arbid: We will take legal action against General Security. We have a lawyer in Lebanon working on the case. This is a matter of freedom of expression. The movie has no blasphemy in it, there is no cursing of religions, no cursing of any person alive, and the movie does not serve the interest of anyone.
When I was shooting in Solidere [in downtown Beirut], we were paying $500 a day to film there, so the movie was not made to serve a certain party’s interest. We are neutral. That is why there is no justification for the ban.
You Facebook page posts ask users to spead the news of the film’s banning. What is the purpose of taking such a step?
Arbid: So that General Security stops treating us like dogs. We’re trying to show how artists are being demeaned by General Security personnel, who I regret to say, barely have [an art] education. They perceive art as a non-cash generator, so to them, it has no value.
The movie is fiction, and so the [dynamics of the] politics in the story are fictional too. But politics was the only thing General Security could see in it, they couldn’t see beyond it. It remains unacceptable for an artist, a writer or a composer to use politics as material under the pretext of causing incitement.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese are expected to sit there and listen to politicians rambling for hours and accept it. General Security objected to me mentioning PM Hariri’s murder in the movie, and they questioned my intentions when I was simply using it as material.
Many Lebanese who are following the issue are requesting that the movie be shown online, in the same manner as seeing it in theatre. Would you consider this option?
Arbid: It is not my right to do so. The producers have to decide whether or not they want to stream it online. There can be a mechanism we can adopt to show the movie, but this is not the issue at hand.
If I do that, I will be solving my problem with General Security and getting around the ban, but this does not address censorship in Lebanon. This is why we decided to take legal action against General Security and take it to the courts. If General Security has a right to censor the movie then let it be. But if they don’t, then they should pay the price.
Why do you believe foreign films that tackle similar issues of sex, violence and politics pass by General Security without censorship while Lebanese films do not?
Arbid: Because I believe it is more about the person making the movie here, whether or not the filmmaker has connections. It is only in Lebanon that films are censored and scenes are removed... In the rest of the world, movies are just rated. The irony of it all is that Beirut Hotel is showing on TV at 8:30 p.m., which means children are permitted to see it in France, which means the West did not even rate it or see a need to.
Do you see it necessary that there be some cultural activism to tackle these issues of censorship?
Arbid: For sure. I think Lebanese need to know where we’re living, whether or not we are living in a civilized society. If we are, then we should have the freedom to express ourselves... But if we’re not and if I am obliged to be censored, then censorship should apply to across the board, especially to politicians who go on television and start the real incitement.
I am the first director who is willing to take legal action with regard to film censorship. I have been facing censorship issues with most of my movies: In the Battlefield, A Lost Man and now, Beirut Hotel.
Honestly, I have had enough and that is why I decided to take this step.
After your experience with the General Security, would you consider doing another movie about Beirut?
Arbid: I don’t think they will allow me to do another movie in Lebanon or about Lebanon, because I am defying the system. My next movie will not be about Lebanon. But I am going through with [the legal action] because I need to know where I, as an artist, stand in this system.
I have put three years of my life into Beirut Hotel, 50 persons worked in this movie and 30 of which were Lebanese and were able to put food on the table out of what they were earning. When the system disregards these efforts and its effects, then this only points to its contempt of art.
There is little awareness about art, how it is formed and what it generates, which is why it remains very easy for censorship to take place [and be accepted].
Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW Lebanon