Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 4th, 2008

Who is Oriana Falaci? An alternative interpretation  of St. John’s apocalyptic vision;  (November 2, 2007)

 

            Oriana Falaci is an Italian journalist turned writer; she was dying of cancer when she published her last book “Falaci interviews Falaci” followed by “Apocalypse”.  Falaci was a very liberal personality most of her life, defending the oppressed, until she turned sour and dissatisfied with the state of affairs perpetrated by the slaughtering of foreign hostages by Moslem extremists in Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Falaci was furious that all the recent terrorist activities in Europe such as in Spain, Italy, France, Holland and Russia were executed by Moslems.  Falaci practiced selective amnesia in this book to avoid mentioning the genocides and terrorist activities in former Yugoslavia that were perpetrated by Christians, Catholics and Orthodox, and the daily terrorism in Iraq among the Moslems sects of Sunni and Shi3a.  Falaci went as far as supporting anyone, even Nazis or fascists, as long that the political program was to stop Moslems’ immigration to Europe and to never provide them with the legitimacy of a European citizenship.  Falaci ended her career by lashing out at legislations that permit homosexuals and lesbians to officially marry and adopt children “because it is a sin” and contrary to human procreation process.

            I wrote an article as a response to Falaci’s stands on Islam and Moslems entitled “Are there moderate Moslems?” and I will re-edit a few excerpts from my previous article.  Oriana Falaci has made up her mind that there are no moderate Moslems, lest they are Moslems by birth but are no longer practicing  believers: simply because the Koran is the Koran and there is no way to interpret the Sourates to coincide with civil laws in the western nations. 

Falaci insists that the word “terrorism” is not good enough; the mass media should be consistent in saying “Islamic terrorism”; a term that would satisfy the terrorist Zionists immensely.  Oriana Falaci espoused the views of Bernard Lewis, the guru of the neo-conservatives in the USA, on Islam; she considered this academic turned polemist as the ultimate authority for truth on Islamic matters.

            Apparently, the then 80-years old Lewis gave an interview to a German daily where he lambasted the West for not believing that radical Islam is the main enemy, instead of the new fascists; Lewis is hammering the notion that all of Europe is going to be Islamist by the year 2100.  There is a definite trend and disposition in the West to fit theories that antagonize the Moslem World by accepting as sound evidence the many terrorist acts perpetrated by extremist Moslems after the September 11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York City.

            The vehement attitude of Falaci toward Islam stems from two premises; first, all of the terrorist attacks in the World are perpetrated by Moslems, and second, the practices of Moslems’ behavior in the Western World are based on the teaching of the Koran which cannot be reconciled with the rational civil laws in the western countries they live in.  I have responded on these two premises in my previous article and will focus on the alternative apocalyptic versions.

            Falacy used St. John’s apocalyptic vision to offer her version of Islam as the Monster and enliven her ejaculations and substantiate her stand, as if a flawed concept can be clarified by a more obscure premise.  In St. John’s apocalyptic version a Monster with seven heads and ten corns would emerge from the sea and the Beast on land would execute all the Monster’s orders until the an angel descend from heaven and lock the Monster and punish the Beasts. Thus, the Monster is Islam and the Beast is represented by the European liberals and leaders who are trying to appease Moslems and exhorting them to moderation by dangling carrots instead of raising the heavy sticks.

            The Monster is to emerge from the sea, though the Moslem World is mostly a vast desert until now.  Either the 100-years old St. John was completely dehydrated, and thus seeing mirages, or he had a vision of another Ice Age period and thus, wet continents have exchanged climatic states, or Falaci was getting out of whack and delving into uncharted territories.

            For the time being, the USA is the only superpower located smack between the Pacific and the Atlantic; the USA has waged two World Wars and invaded Asia and Europe and the only superpower to have landed troops in all continents and are still present, even after the end of the last “hot” world war more than 60 years ago. The USA has many heads in finance, economy, technology, sciences, mass media, music and movie production, agriculture, and a military supremacy with extra three corns in space exploration, maritime hegemony, and genetic experimentation. 

            The Beast can be represented by the world States leaders executing the US orders and the intelligencia and educated people interpreting favorably the misinformation that the successive US administrations are propagating to spread democracy by pre-emptive wars; many leaders are emulating the Beast, either out of fear of economic embargo, military reprisals, ordered terrorist activities, or because of local politics, or allegiance to the neo-conservative program. 

So far, many nations have joined the Bush Junior war on Iraq without the sanction of the UN, and most of them have ended up retrieving their troops after seeing the light or their leaders failing in elections.  The three main Beasts to shoulder this pre-emptive war were Blair of Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.  I will only focus on the Saudi Monarchy/Theocracy Beast.

            Wolfowitz has said after the US troops entered Iraq: “Now, we can get our troops out of Saudi Arabia, after twenty years, without fear of destabilizing the region.”  There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia not only encouraged the US with its plan to invade Iraq but also financed this campaign directly and indirectly.  The Saudi Wahabi caste was first, getting revenge on the Iraqis for giving their supremacy over the other castes in Saudi Arabia the scare of their life in 1993: Saddam  invaded Kuwait and approached the Saudi Arabia, second, the Wahabi caste was encouraging the US to get its troops out of Saudi Arabia because Ben Laden was recruiting heavily on the basis of the “infidel Christians” spreading their impurity in the land, third, because the Saudi Monarchy and Wahabi caste are completely reliant on the US to maintaining their social structure, and fourth to keep communist China influence out of the Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

            The Monster can be named; it is the neo-conservatives in the USA.  They are an amalgam of hundreds of Baptist and Protestant sects with the main single belief in the process of how the Second Coming of their Messiah is going to happen. The neo-conservatives are clamoring that all the Jews should be relocated in Israel and then, after the Jews re-build their famous Temple in Jerusalem, they will launch a targeted crusade toward Israel, with the intention of Christianizing the new heretics of Jews; this campaign would be effective and completed and only then the Messiah would feel comfortable to come back! The odds are the neo-conservatives would repeat Titus’ feat of destroying the newly erected Temple and scatter the Jews all over the world.  If the Jews believe that the support of the USA is free of charge then they are under the spell of the demon; the Jews will have to pay back everything with high interest too.

           

            Falaci had a most striking interpretation of why the intelligent Ussama Ben Laden decided to televise an appearance a couple of days before the Presidential US election; Ben Laden warned the Americans that if they re-elect Bush then he will have no option but to repeat another deadly strike.  Ben Laden knew that his speech will galvanize the arrogant US citizens into shedding their apathy for voting and move in mass to voting heavily for Bush against the favorite Kerry.  The Bush Administration needed Ben Laden alive to sustain their propaganda against Islam and linger in Iraq.  Ben Laden needed Bush in power to recruit heavily among the anti-American Moslems. This is the ultimate deal between the staunchest extremist Beasts to wreck havoc in the world and create a definite cultural clash between the Christian West and the Islamic World.

            The current generally rigid Islam is a major factor to the prevention of effective communication between the West and the Moslem World but it is not the only main factor.  Most of the Moslem World is organized in Caste Systems (closed religious autonomous sects) due to the influence of India and the domination of the successive Mongol Empires to the whole region for over ten centuries.  The most effective venue is not to lambaste mercilessly Islam but to aid our region to gradually break out of our caste structures so that we may communicate first internally as a society and then open up to the West later on as people free to speak and publish our opinions without undue internal harassments. This gradual change is not meant to impose democracy by pre-emptive wars but to allow our societies to invent alternative open systems that work in each Middle East States.

I could not help but write a short poem related to the same theme.  Worst, I could not help but sharing it with you; it is titled “Redundant Prophets“:

 Tormented youths, hearing voices, experiencing apocalyptic nightmares,

Seeking desperately a corner in a desert,

Preferably when available nearby,

In desolate locations, in complete isolation,

To exorcise their dark dreams,

Their oppressive loneliness, the demons in their soul,

And to find peace of mind.

 

Archangel Gabriel materialized to a few of them,

Talking to them in a centaur voice,

Vast and reaching the skies,

Or plainly in a human form, surrounded with blinding light.

Gabriel would not let them in peace,

He would harass them during their wretched life,

Urging them to fear the Unique God,

And pray and glorify God’s name, and proselytize in God’s name.

 

Most were not as lucky in fame,

And have never seen a divine apparition;

They did pass that critical phase in life, in good mental stability,

And reduced level of exacerbated anxiousness.

The difference between Prophets and young crazies

Can be traced to the genetic laziness of Gabriel;

Or most likely to the current glut in redundant prophets.

“What are error taxonomies and the other kinds of taxonomies in HF?” 

(April 9, 2005)

 

Would you please give me a minute to set the foundations first?

Friend, may you allow me just a side explanation on experimentation? 

Psychologists, sociologists and marketing graduates are trained to applying various experimentation methods and not just cause and effect designs.

There are many statistical packages oriented to providing dimensions and models to the set of data dumped into the experiment so that a preliminary understanding of the system behavior is comprehended qualitatively.

Every applied science has gone through many qualitative models or schemas, using various qualitative methods, before attempting to quantify their models.

Many chairmen of engineering departments, especially those who have no understanding of the disciple of Human Factors and would never touch this body of knowledge and methods with a long pole, ask me to concentrate my courses on the quantitative aspects.

That hint sends immediate shiver through my rebellious spirit and I am tempted to ask them what taxonomy of methods they use in teaching engineering courses.

What taxonomies Human Factors have to conceive?  How about the classification of human errors when operating a system, their frequencies and consequences on the safety of operators and system performance?

Human Factors professionals attempted to establish various error taxonomies, some within a specific context during their study and analysis of the errors that might be committed in the operation of nuclear power plants and others that are out of any specific context.

One alternative classification of human errors is based on human behavior and the level of comprehension; mainly skill-based, or rule-based or knowledge-based behavioral patterns. This taxonomy identifies 13 types of errors and discriminate among the stages and strength of controlled routines in the mind that precipitate the occurrence of an error whether during execution of a task, omitting steps, changing the order of steps, sequence of steps, timing errors, inadequate analysis or decision making.  With a strong knowledge of the behavior of a system, provided that the mental model is not deficient then applying the rules consistently most of the errors will be concentrated on the level of skill achieved in performing a job.

Another taxonomy rely on the theory of information processing and it is a literal transcription of the experimental processes; mainly observation of a system status, choice of hypothesis, testing of hypothesis, choice of goal, choice of procedure and execution of procedure.  Basically, this taxonomy may answer the problems in the rule-based and knowledge–based behavior.

It is useful to specify in the final steps of taxonomy whether an error is of omission or of commission.  I suggest that the errors of commission be also fine tuned to differentiate among errors of sequence, the kind of sequence and timing of the execution.

There are alternative strategies for reducing human errors by either training, selection of the appropriate applicants or redesigning a system to fit the capabilities of end users and or taking care of his limitations by preventive designs, exclusion designs and fail-safe designs.

What are error taxonomies, and other taxonomies in Human Factors in Engineering?

Article #12, written in April 9, 2005)

May you allow me just a side explanation on experimentation, to set the foundations first?

Psychologists, sociologists and marketing graduates are trained to apply various experimentation methods and not just cause and effect designs.

There are many statistical packages oriented to providing dimensions and models to the set of data dumped into the experiment, so that a preliminary understanding of the system behavior is comprehended qualitatively.

Every applied science has gone through many qualitative models or schema, using various qualitative methods, before attempting to quantify their models.

Many chairmen of engineering departments, especially those who have no understanding of the disciple of Human Factors in engineering and would never touch this body of knowledge and methods with a long pole, ask me to concentrate my courses on the quantitative aspects.

That hint sends immediate shiver through my rebellious spirit and I am tempted to ask them “what taxonomy of methods are you using in teaching engineering courses?”

What taxonomies Human Factors have to conceive?  How about the classification of human errors when operating a system, their frequencies and consequences on the safety of operators and system performance?

Human Factors professionals attempted to establish various error taxonomies, some within a specific context, during their study and analysis of errors that might be committed in the operation of nuclear power plants for example, and other taxonomy that are out of any specific context.

One alternative classification of human errors is based on human behavior and the level of comprehension. Mainly, skill-based, or rule-based or knowledge-based behavioral patterns.

This taxonomy identifies 13 types of errors and discriminates among the stages and strength of controlled routines in the mind that precipitate the occurrence of an error, whether during execution of a task, omitting steps, changing the order of steps, sequence of steps, timing errors, inadequate analysis or decision-making.

With a strong knowledge of the behavior of a system, provided that the mental model is not deficient, applying the rules consistently most of the errors will be concentrated on the level of skill achieved in performing a job.

Another taxonomy rely on the theory of information processing and it is a literal transcription of the experimental processes; mainly, observation of a system status, choice of hypothesis, testing of hypothesis, choice of goal, choice of procedure and execution of procedure.  Basically, this taxonomy may answer the problems in the rule-based and knowledge–based behavior.

It is useful to specify in the final steps of taxonomy whether an error is of omission or of commission.  I suggest that the errors of commission be also fine tuned to differentiate among errors of sequence, the kind of sequence, and timing of the execution.

There are alternative strategies for reducing human errors by either training, selection of the appropriate applicants, or redesigning a system to fit the capabilities of end users and/or taking care of his limitations by preventive designs, exclusion designs, and fail-safe designs.

“What methods will I have to manipulate and start worrying about?”

Article #11, (April 9, 2005)

Once again you are asking a most interesting and to the point question.

Usually, my class is composed of all engineering disciplines and the unique human factors course is basically a required course for industrial engineers in their third year.

Every time I ask the students: “Tell me, what are the 3 main methods you use in your discipline?”  I enjoy contemplating the glazed looks on their eyes.

For them, a single method to using in a discipline is logically a reasonable supposition because somehow they must have been applying some sort of a method anyhow.

Hearing that there may be more than one methods that they have been applying explicitly, without realizing it, propelled my university students into a state of shock and disbelief.

If I asked them how they solved their problems their immediate reaction is: “Well, we locate the appropriate equation, we input the necessary data then we whip the calculator and get the response.”

Do they know before hand the magnitude and range of the reasonable answers? Do they ever double check whether the answer is within the acceptable range for the specific domain of the problem?  Do they make it a habit to at least attach a unit to their answer? Do they double check whether the algebraic manipulation of the dimensions of the independent variables in the equation matches the dimension of the dependent variable?  Do they solve algebraically the equation before inputting data only in the last phase of the transformation?

The average graduate student has no recollection that his training induced him to apply methodically this process for applying algebra, considering the dimensionality of an equation or the range and domain of the problems at hand.

The average university student has barely been prompted to think about the taxonomy (classification scheme) of methods used in engineering and asked to locate the appropriate domain of methods that his course might require.

Every science is based on a set of taxonomies or classification schemes.

For example we are taught that mathematics is based on inductive and deductive reasoning, that it has several distinct branches like analytic, algebraic, numeric, geometric and not least probabilistic.

Every applied science has gone through the methodologies of experimenting, setting the protocol, collecting data, analyzing statistically the data and hopefully reaching a few practical results that the professionals in the disciplines could apply.

Fourth year engineering university graduates go through their final project with a set of inefficient experiments, each experiment being based on a unique independent variable or factor and probably a modicum of control variables, and they live happily ever after, without knowing that there are courses that train you to design experiments in very efficient ways.  They graduate without being required to taking at least one course in designing cause and effect experiments were more than one factors and more than one dependent variables could be studied simultaneously for the more useful information on the interactions among the variables.

It does not matter how often I explain to them the various kind of variables through specific examples, the fact is their brain is not trained to look at problems from an experimental perspective.

I Could Break your Eyeglasses (continue, Dec. 2002)

 

We had a large apartment in Beirut and it was almost vacant

For the duration of the civil war.

I passed by for a couple of minutes, for no reason, and the phone was ringing.

A secretary for a local company was summoning me

To an interview the next morning.

I had no recollection of submitting a resume to that company.

Next morning, I was meeting a high level representative,

Who came from Cyprus for a couple of days,

Just to hire new engineers for their expanding business in Nigeria.

He did not ask me questions. I did not ask him questions.

I needed to be off and out of Lebanon.

 

At the airport in the Capital Lagos,

A few agents from the company met me and facilitated my entrance.

I flew the same day to their headquarter

And was lodged temporarily at a motel.

I met an American young man at the dining room

And ended up sleeping with a very young girl.

We made love all night and remember not sleeping much.

Curiously, I cannot recall how I met this girl.

This motel must have a curious way of welcoming new guests.

My hidden cash was dwindling for some days.

I told my co-workers that I’m conducting an experiment

To find out how much per day the culprit is stealing.

They laughed their heart out for my stupidity.

I confronted the cleaning lady.

She stepped in the bathroom, removed her panties and bent over the bathtub.

It was a quick standing exercise.

I moved out the next day:

I was running out of hiding places for my scant dollars.

 

Four months in a field compound, out in the nowhere,

At a poor town lacking television transmission, called Okitipupa,

Wearing regulation tall brown boots for discrimination purposes.

A few thugs entered the compound one night,

Killed three guards and threatened the manager to open the safe.

We were awakened at three in the morning to go and lodge a complaint

Driving through the slaughtered watchmen..

 

I was recalled and ready to be shipped out to Cyprus.

I was somewhat reluctant for this sudden transfer

Even after this harrowing experience.

 

 

I Could Break your Eyeglasses (Continue 2, Dec. 2002)

 

I had to stay for another month, redundant at headquarter.

The company accommodated me at a house

With a private driver and a house servant.

At night, the Nigerian driver would take me to a dancing place

In the open air and surrounded by a few huts.

 

I was to select a girl of my choice.

I liked a fantastic black beauty but she was taken that evening.

I ended up taking home Elisabeth, another beauty.

 

We made love all night.

She was great in expressing her delights and happiness in soft moaning.

Elisabeth was pretty, large eyes, flat tummy, firm, round and proportionate tits.

 

She had a major handicap: the tough leather feel of her palms, hands and feet.

She did not ask for money and I didn’t give her any.

The next evening I joined my first choice of the previous night and talked.

 

My Elisabeth was upset and cut us off.

Her friend understood and stepped aside: no fair play in this business.

Elisabeth still came home with me.

I don’t recall calling her Beth or any other nickname.

She allowed me to undress her and kiss her all over her body,

But she would not let me kiss her mouth.

She obstructed any kind of intercourse for the night.

I tried hard all night at no avail.

I suspected the reason for her behavior and decided to ask her in the morning.

In the morning, she let me enter her,

Fixating me with her black large eyes,

Frigid and stone faced all the while.

I asked her: “Elisabeth, what’s the deal now?”

She replied: “I had to punish you.

You cannot ask my girl friend when I am around”

At breakfast, she said that there is an emergency at her house

And she needed money.

I offered her ten Naira.  She went ballistic and screamed:

“Ten Naira? You bloody cheap! I could break your ugly glasses!”

 

The scoreboard was heavily tipped on her side:

My lame excuse was that I had the right of choice.

My excuse surely would never balance a modicum sense of decency

For all the money in the world.

Beside, she has not taken money the first time for me to do business as usual.

 

I Could Break your Eyeglasses (Continue 3, Dec. 2002)

 

The day to leave Nigeria was near.

 I asked the driver to let Elisabeth know of the departure date.

She met me with her beautiful girlfriend at the gate:

They were not allowed to enter the tarmac.

 

I waved to these generous hearts.

 

My return at Lagos airport was not accompanied by company officials.

I was searched five times

And finally, I had to give away all my tiny bottles of liquors to get through.

 

I kept a picture of us, Elisabeth and me, embraced and smiling.

I kept a picture of her beautiful girlfriend too.

Polaroid photographers in that joint had to make a living.

Chapter 5: The new regime (1375-1381)

A week after the success of the insurgency, Antoun gathered his warriors for a day meeting in order to discuss the implementation of agreements and the pact they signed on together. Legal, land, security and political committees were formed to recommend adjustment to grievances, recovering of lost properties and the right of return to the outlaws who wished to come back to their hometown or monetary reward to those preferring to remain in the mountains. It was also decided that the initial core of leaders and committee members would meet weekly as de facto government members for the first three months.

The most critical danger was the constant pressure on Antoun from the insurgents demanding to demobilize the current force of law and order of the ancient regime; the leader begged to differ and regarded the dismantlement of this internal security institution an appeal to chaos and a preparation from the disillusioned citizens to bloodshed.  The committee for security headed by Hanna Al Najjar maintained the former security force in place, raised the allowances of those who served with dedication and brought to court a few of those who committed grievous blemishes and blatant uncivil behavior.

Hanna established security centers in many corners of the county with duties to rescue the helpless, downtrodden and remotely isolated citizens.  His forces toured the streets at night in formal dresses and rushed at appeals of distress or warning dangers; order was to be installed and all citizens, nobles or poor, had to refrain from the use of physical force throughout the land.


Concentration villages

The temporary government hurriedly gathered the toppled Emirs and powerful landlords into two concentration villages far from the Capital Mtein and within the outlaws’ regions: all the Emirs and first level feudal lords were gathered in one tiny remote town under development in the high altitude, the second class of feudal lords and relatives of Emirs in another camping ground a mile to the main security garrison.  These special towns were in reality detention camps with few accesses, closely guarded, and had very limited communication with the outside world.  The two communities were allotted enough lands to cultivate and survive without much intervention from the outside and were allowed to govern themselves.  

Antoun believed that he was familiar with the basic psychology of the so-called noblemen and the differences among the first class and second class feudal nobles; he knew that the Emirs will not attempt to flee the town where they were incarcerated and will wait until they are freed with due honors as long as enough food are provided within a comfort level.  As for the second class nobles he directed the officer of the security garrison to perform routine visits to the camp and harshly punish any disobedience to regulations and even to put to public trials the most virulent elements among them; in fact, two feudal noblemen with minor influence were decapitated and peace was restored for a long time in that camp.

Antoun’s decision not to execute any of his former nemesis was founded mainly on the realization that the balance of power might require judicious use of a few of these former lords in order to maintain his grip on power; he also chiefly wished to relying on the internal feuds that these close quarters might generate among their honorable inhabitants. The main reason he offered for the leaders of the insurgency not to physically harm their captives were that “our mountain counties are not familiar with internal massacres which might upset the inhabitants and hinder their cooperation, especially that they represented important families in major towns.”  Indeed, Antoun looked favorably, in the first three months, on the requests of a few traders, dignitaries, and personalities to pay short visits to the sequestered noblemen in order to allay their fears and confirm his assurances for their safety and security.  Barhoum Bey was not spared confinement but was treated equally as honorably as his inferior colleagues in ranks.

Undercover agents were sent to these concentration camps and Noura was one of them with the avowed purpose to cure and care for the sick.  She paid them biweekly visits carrying her meager load of different herbs on an old mule and stayed overnight in each encampment. Noura empathized with the camp conditions of the less fortunate landlords who were reduced to practical slavery by the more influential Emirs through moral obligations by the old order.  These discontented noble men were a boon to Noura who gathered all the intelligence she needed on the social conditions and political upheaval emerging among these closed communities.

Another undercover agent was Gergis the middleman; he was a fixture in these confined communities given that he was granted the sole permit to organizing caravans for selling and trading goods and information.  This exclusive business grant offered Gergis the break for riches with the cooperation of Haim and a restricted select, now legitimate, contraband leaders associated with Antoun’s past activities.

 

Latifa and the attack: Rainbow over the Levant

Latifa, (continue 9)

Latifa was a looker and an impressive lady that discouraged the weak-hearted eligible men from courting her. By the time her brother Antoun came to riches, she could not avail herself to woo gentlemen whom she considered beneath her potentials.  Latifa was in her late twenties, and by the standard of the time was considered too old to marry. 

To preserve her dignity Latifa circulated a rumor that she had taken a vow of celibacy.  Her status increased among the town people and was given the nickname of Sit Al Forsan (Lady of the knights) and carried herself accordingly. 

Latifa was in with the secrets of Antoun, or at least what he directly wanted her to know, because he made sure not to connect her with his important partners in the plot.  She gradually suspected his intentions from her frequent visits to him in Beirut, but was unaware of the timing, the seriousness, or the magnitude of the insurrection. Actually, Latifa became Antoun’s  eyes and ears in the mountain region, where she received many visitors and received inputs from her benevolent activities in the neighboring villages. 

Jamila started sending her eldest daughter Latifa frequently to Beirut, after Antoun was exiled, to stay with her brother for a week, about once every three months in the first two years, to cater for his household needs in keeping his place neat and well maintained, cooking for him a few of his favorite meals, supplying him with whatever her mother knitted for him; but, basically, she was her parents’ reporter on Antoun’s well-being. 

As Antoun’s status and wealth increased, and thus did not need as much attention, Latifa’s visits to Beirut dwindled to about twice a year, mainly to do some shopping for herself and her family, and to forward her mother’s good business advice and recommendations.   On the third year of exile, and after learning that Antoun has purchased a house in Beirut, his mother and two daughters descended to Beirut and stayed five entire weeks, following a noisy argument with the father Youssef.   Youssef was forced to disseminate the drastic excuse for the extended trip of his family:  His son Antoun succumb to an unusual serious health case, pretty believable in those times.  

Once, Antoun decided to build for his father a luxury carriage, but the idea was deemed too outlandish and dangerous in local politics.  Instead, his father, at the instigation of his wife, accepted liquid money to buy more lands, expand the family business in the countryside and fulfill Youssef’s promises to his wife Jamila to remodel her residence with new amenities, furniture, and additional rooms that boosted an atmosphere of a higher social standing.  The remodeled house was outlandish within the walls but the exterior was kept blending harmoniously with the neighborhood environment and dwelling.

Before the final preparations for the insurgency, Antoun commuted for two weeks between his houses in Mrouj:  He pretended taking care of family business and being social.  Then he vanished with Adhal (his eldest toddler son), supposedly to return to Beirut. 

Antoun headed instead to Baskenta to direct the insurgency activities.  Adhal was delivered to the care of Mariam and her team of volunteers because his son had to learn life from a different perspective, in the fresh mountain air and link friendship with a different kind of kids.

Before the general order to advance at the capital Mtein, the leaders of the insurgent groups met to decide on the list of noblemen that have to be rounded up and the locations of their incarceration.  It was relevant that a number of important noblemen became summer lords because they had residency in the coastal towns and villages at lower altitude and outside the Metn jurisdiction; they rarely visited their properties in the mountain but to collect their rent twice a year. 

It was decided that a group would be in charge of locating these summer noblemen and surreptitiously transferring them to the incarceration areas in the outlawed areas, immediately after the Capital fell in the hands of the insurgents.  The coastal guards were bribed to retain men traveling by sea until the group of insurgents could identify them before boarding. A most important decision was to refrain from executing or unduly torturing any prisoner until due legal process was carried out individually.  It was apparent that Antoun had a vested interest in knowing first hand each noblemen and deciding on his worth for helping him tighten his grasp on power.

During the war with the Emir of Aleppo, the insurgents infiltrated the rear guard of the army with a few agents to keep updated on the evolution of the war outcome. Antoun got his insurgent army ready for a decisive attack as soon as news of a defeat was imminent.  Indeed, the armies of the Viceroy of Damascus were badly reduced and, while the remnants of the army was retreating in disorder, Antoun attacked on two fronts and aimed directly at the Capital Mtein, where most of the remaining Emir’s strongmen where located. 

The attack

The night before the attack on the Capital Mtein, Antoun sensed the anxiety overwhelming his comrades and ordered to set up five bonfires and distributed the leaders to gather with the insurgents around the fires.  He refrained from meeting with his leaders in close quarters and repeated his address separately to the five encampments saying:

“The time is approaching to execute our decision for a better life, a life based on fairness in the laws as worthy equals in our society.  It is time to start erecting a society with the right to elect a government of the people and for the people; a government that listens and understands the wishes and dreams of its people and has experienced the sufferings and injustices of the peasants and working people under the despotic and unfair feudal system.  It is natural to feel scared; otherwise I wouldn’t trust your courage and determination if you didn’t feel apprehensive tonight.  Our project is the life or death of our destiny tailored to our big heart. Our project is the dream and wish of many citizens in the towns and villages whom have been keeping these dreams burning deep in their compassionate hearts.  We know each other; we are friends and we will take care of one another as we had done for many years.  We have planned together our revolution to the minute details, as intelligent and responsible leaders of people should do, to succeed and win against the heartless and irresponsible feudal Cheiks, Beys and Emirs”. 

“You all know by now that I don’t dwell much on abstract notions such as freedom, liberty and self-determination; we have discussed the meanings of these concepts so that we don’t abuse and short hand the intelligence of our citizens.  Opening and creating opportunities for learning and working go hand in hand with empowering the individual citizens to take bold decisions, fortified by laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, religion and social status.  That is how we give sense to liberty and self–determination and that is what our citizens should demand from us.”

He went on saying: “In a few hours we march boldly toward the Capital of the loathed executioners of our rights; who denied us the joy of life commensurate to our labor, sweat and blood.  Obey the orders and directives of your elected leaders and be steadfast in your fight.  I can see our flags fluttering in the morning wind at the top of the Castle. Victory is whispering sweet songs and the shout of Long Live the Revolution is already deafening my ears.  I can see hundreds of peasants gathering around you in the Capital’ Square and shouting in unison ‘Long Live the Revolution’!  Is Victory singing to you too?  I cannot hear you! Long Live the Revolution! Louder! Louder!”

The insurgent detachment headed by Antoun descended from Baskenta toward Mrouj with 150 fighters while Mustafa and Hanna accompanied by Elias headed for Falougha, in currently the Chouf County, with 200 insurgents. They were advancing at the pace of caravans and looking very much like trading caravans with a few women prominently exhibited and some well know caravan regular leaders perched on their ornamented mules.

As soon as the two groups reached their first destinations they would descend on Mtein at sun down helped by the moon light. They were to wait for the combined attack at 5 o’clock in the morning after the peasants had left their homes for the fields.  Supporters in the Capital were ready to guide the insurgents to the residencies of the strongmen and powerful landlords in and around the town.  The insurgents were successful in capturing the targeted noblemen and entered Mtein with no major resistance.

At the same time, two dozen fighters were guarding the entrances to the Bishop Atanasios’ residence, waiting for the fire signal to elevate over the highest hill to enter the residence and have the Bishop and his monks under house arrest.  At every entrance and exit passageway a handful of guards with an officer disguised as a monk regulated the traffic of civilians and clergy.  People coming in to pay a visit to the Bishop were discouraged to resume their trip because of a special conclave for the clergy and the impossibility of meeting anyone for a couple of days.  The peasants working the land of the monastery or traders were allowed in and retained there. 

Gergis was leading this group of partisans with the mission of striking a deal with the Bishop after Antoun’s insurgents enter Mtein.  Elias was behind the project of this necessary house arrest coup but was instead assigned another task because he was still officially excommunicated and for fear that his zeal might foil this important mission.

Gergis’ task was to convince the Bishop and his associates in the clergy that the takeover of power was not the work of ruffians and outlaws but of learned gentlemen, citizens concerned with the status of lawlessness and injustices which was fueling a feeling of restlessness among the population of believers.  To convince the clergy that this revolt sought the approval and leadership of their Patriarch Gergis promised that they will receive the proper documents very shortly.  Gergis insisted that he was ready to deal fairly and squarely on behalf of the leaders of this popular movement of believers.

In the mean time, Bishop Atanasios agreed to say mass in the Capital Mtein next Sunday with all the official ceremonies befalling a highly important personality.  The two parties were not duped in their respective intentions but they implicitly agreed that this negotiation was the business of politicians awaiting better circumstances.  The Bishop was convinced that this movement, like other previous revolts, would not survive long, and that life as usual would return under the full control of the clergy and the feudal old political structure.

The official mass was to be held at nine o’clock and the leader was outside by eight accepting the congratulations and respect of the town people and dignitaries while anxiously keeping an eye on the horizon waiting for the Bishop to be sighted.  At twenty to nine a.m,  a small group of pedestrians wearing black cloaks and following a person perched on a mule was sighted, plodding at an average pace.  Antoun who had become mainly a city man and, relatively removed from the customs of the mountains and the declining economic status of the clergy, did not pay this group much attention and was scrutinizing the horizon for dust generated by a cavalry accompanying the Bishop in pageant procession.  When the black clad group, many bare feet in dirty cloaks, was thirty meters away Elias nudged Antoun and shouted: “The bastard has come”. 

The leader briskly faced Elias and waited for an explanation to his rude comment when someone raised his voice saying: “Let peace be upon you, Antoun my son “.  The Bishop was directly confronting him from the top of his mule with a thin smile across his lips and hard eyes piercing toward the inattentive leader of the peasants. 

Antoun was taken aback in total surprise and fumbled down his mount, helped the Bishop to dismount and then kissed the proffered hand.  Elias was beside himself and was ready to wriggle the neck of the Bishop as well as Antoun’s for his vile humility toward this despicable high-placed clergy and shouted to the Bishop: “Atanathios, remember me?  I am waiting for you to publicly recant your excommunication to me and everyone in the Metn.”  The cunning Bishop seeing an opportunity to reclaim his power replied: “Son Elias, I am glad to admit you back into the flock. You have already suffered enough and the church is forgiving to human weaknesses”.  Elias was about to retort but was taken away by a gesture of impatience from Antoun. 

The new leader was received as the avenging hero who will strengthen the force of order and prevent violence, injustice, and anarchy. He could deliver his promises since the outlaw men and deserters were part and parcel of his well-organized army.

 


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2008
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