Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Well, someone's reading this blog:-)

Just in: the Internal Security Forces will be banning all political flags in Beirut. This announcement came a few hours after my post on the SSNP flags in Hamra that offend many Lebanese. Coincidence? Of course not!

Well, erm, perhaps, but hey, if the Lebanese can make believe that peace is just around the corner, so can I believe the Powers That Be read this blog:-)

It's quite an amazing decision btw: not only does the ISF prohibit political flags, they also ban motorcycles as of 6PM today and provocative activities. What's next? Put 'm up against the wall? And all that for a government that's no longer in power after Suleiman got elected president.

It sure is a reminder of the mid 1990's when the government started censoring the press and shut down all TV stations except 4: The only 'political' TV station that was still allowed back then was Future TV because Hariri was the Prime Minister at the time. LBC could continue broadcasting but was forced to cut its ties with the Lebanese Forces, whereas such demands were not made upon Future TV.

They made it even illegal to report anything else than the scores of sports events because of riots that occurred among the fans. Any description of how the match went would only inflame people.

So, here we are today: no more political flags, no more motorcycles and no more "provocative activities". Now see, that last one is kinda tricky. People tend to find many activities provocative, most certainly when they don't agree with the thoughts behind it.

An orange tie? Up against the wall! A PLO shawl? Up against the wall! A picture of your favorite religious leader on your car window? Up against the wall!

You might think why does this blog article have such an innocent title, even has a smiley in it? Surely this topic is too serious for that?! Yes, i know, but that's only to throw them off track! With a title like this, they might skip it (fingers crossed), which would be a Good Thing™ this time since it doesn't look they can handle criticism all too well.

You think they stop at motorcycles? Hope you're right, but don't be too surprised if you wake up one day to find that media such as newspapers, TV stations and blogs are next.

11 comments:

Lalebanessa said...

Riemer,

I totally disagree with you. In this country the ONLY flag that should be allowed is the Lebanese flag.

Maybe then people will start feeling allegiance to their country instead of their Party, because in Lebanon those two sentiments happen to be mutually exclusive.

I hope they burn all other flags in one big bonfire.

Marillionlb said...

Does that mean that I have to take down the Man United flag that is on my car and balcony?

Blacksmith Jade said...

I agree with La Lebanessa - vis-a-vis political flags (don't worry Marillion).

Riemer I don't know what you're getting all worked up over...

...on an abstract level yeah sure, the security council statement should have been clearer, but I wouldn't go so far as to compare it to the banning of television stations - come on, thats just ridiculous.

The NOWLebanon article on the statement summarized the issue well enough I think.

Skender said...

@Lalebanessa: So you think people will start loving the country that banned their flag?

I don't believe banning political symbols is a way to solve problems. It's a sign of weakness.

R said...

I think if you look at it not from the perspective of political expression, i.e., "I belong to this party so I am going to hang their flag on my balcony", but from the perspective of "This area is under my control so I will plant my party's flag in it", or "we liberated this area, so we are planting our flag on it..." or numerous other idiotic manifestations of dominance, you'll get it.
I agree with blacksmith.

Riemer Brouwer said...

@All,

What we're talking about here is the freedom of expression and the freedom of organization. It's a sad day for Lebanon to have both curtailed just because the Powers That Be can't control the violence that results from political motorcades.

And how do they think they can enforce this? If they're unable to stop those motorcades, are they comfortable enough they can stop people waving flags? Of course not. It's symbol politics. My problem is they target the core of any democratic society: the political parties and their right to speak out and wave flags.

Why didn't they start with banning all flags posted in public space on public property? Like, they should ban flags and banners on lamp posts, e.g.

But if someone puts up a flag on his own house or his own car, what business does the government have to ban this?

Perhaps I'm over-sensitive, but the extension of emergency law in Egypt just two days ago didn't help much. Let's hope Lebanon is not next.

saving grace said...

when one is a real active member of any Lebanese party, he/she should work for this party's beliefs or ideas in an organized and responsible manner. if you look at the ideas on which any Lebanese party is based, none of them ask for followers to bother other people with their flags and beliefs. they can try to discuss these beliefs with them and try to logically convince them. this would be freedom of expression in its most sublime manifestations. i don't see any freedom in going around on motorcycles at 12:00 midnight in small neighborhoods with flags.

madhatter said...

im typically a libertarian on these issues but...

Given the violence in our areas (particularly Ras Beirut + Hamra (where I live)) I do feel it is prudent to ban political flags, symbols, etc. It cuts down on the tension and the cat-pissing "this is my area" marauding gangs engage in.

The only question is what's going to happen to that big picture of Nasrallah on the Mar Elias main road.

Marillionlb said...

Banning flags,slogans, motorbikes...etc will not solve the problem; catching the thugs and prosecuting them will.
Enough hiding behind our little finger. The army is useless and so is the government. As long as Hizbollah is allowed to be a state within a state Lebanon will not see peace (or cheap electricity)

Lalebanessa said...

@ riemer,


Alot of these flags are put up in areas of people who oppose them as a show of force and humiliation. As such they are not representing freedom of speech but a subtle form of opression.

So yes they should be banned, and if we all identify with the one flag (instead of the thousand other flags that abound) then maybe one day will be a real nation.

Lebanese Blog said...

I totally disagree with you. In this country the ONLY flag that should be allowed is the Lebanese flag