To start off with, the event that occurred at the Charlie Hebdo office and the events that followed are tragic acts against humanity. Regardless of whether it’s about free speech or anti-Islamic sentiments, people’s lives were taken and that, for any reason, is a crime. The fact that it was an act of terror carried out by Muslims in retaliation to an insulting cartoon is more insulting to the faith than the cartoon itself.
What irked me about this though was how it mobilized the Lebanese people in specific. We should empathize with the French. We should condemn the actions of monsters. We should stand by our fellow man, show support, create a tight-woven link of solidarity. But we should do the same thing when it’s an issue of our own. I couldn’t help but ask, “why doesn’t this happen when it’s our tragedy?” Why are we not as loud when it comes to our own internal struggles? Where are all the Instagram posts and statuses when there are problems that we, as Lebanese, should fight against as a joint front? Given, Instagram and other social media platforms don’t actually do anything tangible and their effectiveness in activism are not the same as voting, implementing policies, holding those responsible accountable, sit-ins, demonstrations, etc. However, I see that the urge to declare your opinion online does form a kind of unspoken bond, an alliance of like-minded individuals. There is a community of people unafraid to say that they think this is an assault against their basic human rights, violent or otherwise. There is a voice and a voice is the main ingredient for a dialogue and a dialogue is the first step toward change.
When my Newsfeed is flooded with articles about a porn star, I wonder why certain things go viral in a country that has so many other issues that need to be discussed. Is it that we rather focus on the unimportant because we feel powerless against the important? But don’t we see what all that chatter on unimportant issues has done? Imagine what a combined effort against one important issue could do. Maybe we’d have a president, power, or a new public park.
It’s not about Beirut being more damaged. It’s not a competition. Showing compassion for another’s misfortune doesn’t mean you are forgetting your own or turning your back on your country. I am Charlie, I am Ahmed, I am anyone you want when it comes to having sympathy for those who have had to face undeserved turmoil and pain. I wish that we would take that same level of action for all things that are unjust violations as citizens, that our energy would be equally focused and invested in incidents that didn’t involve foreign bodies or the boobs attached to them. I am not, in any way, trying to belittle what is happening in France. I just wish that when it came down to tackling our own afflictions (like that of Tripoli today), people would be just as passionately provoked that they would come forward and scream, “I am Lebanon.”