Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 17th, 2011

Part 2. What’s going on in Bahrain? Scores of Medical personnel condemned to death!

Do you know that this tiny absolute monarchy of Bahrain has threatened to file a court case against the daily “The Independence”?  Apparently, Robert Fisk has confessed of seeing scores of medical personnel, surgeons, physicians, nurses…, being dragged into prison, tortured, and put in trial for doing their duty of caring for the injured demonstrators.  Fisk gave the number of the medical personnel in trial to 48.  The eye-witness famous journalist Robert Fisk wrote that the monarchy in Bahrain prevented emergency vehicles from transporting injured people to hospitals and clinics.  Injured demonstrators were slaughtered in the hostipals, and scores of detainees died in prison.

Robert Fisk puts the blame on the obscurantist Saudi monarchy that prevented any negotiation to unfold: Saudi Arabia absolute monarchy considers the Island of Bahrain (35 km away) as a district of Saudi Arabia, and the “Shiaa citizens” there, forming 70% of the population, as enemies of the Wahhabit sect.  Fisk wrote: “Saudi Arabia are forcing the issue of identifying any Shiaa as Iranian, just political excuses to the wave of terror and actions against human rights in the region…”

Bahrain wants to lodge a legal case, but this is a void threat:  Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia do not want external publicity, courts opened to the public audience, open evidences, eye-witness,…

In march, I published this article:

Tiny Bahrain is an island no bigger than one thousand square miles.  This island in the Arab/Persian Gulf is linked to Saudi Arabia by a bridge and is ruled by a tribal monarchy.  Actually, the Emir decided a decade ago to bestow on himself the title of King.  The old decrepit Prime Minister, obviously from the family, has been governing this island for longer than Qadhafi, over 42 years.

Tiny Bahrain has a population of less than 700,000 and many foreigners work there.  70% of the population are of the Shiaa Moslem sect and citizens origins and sect are labeled differently for class discrimination purposes.

The government decided to offer citizenship to Sunni Moslems in foreign countries, such as Pakistanis, in order to bringing balance for the support of the monarchy.  News are that this infamous Kingdom is hiring 1,000 Pakistani soldiers to come to the rescue:  Apparently, Saudi soldiers wants to go back home.  Actually, half the army is constituted of non Bahrain citizens, mostly of Sunni sect from Pakistan and other Arab countries.

Bahrain is the favorite week-end destination to Saudis, especially the middle class Saudis:  They want freedom to see movies, have good times, drink alcoholic beverage, watch women driving,  and lewd crazy partying…

Bahrain harbors the largest US naval base in the Gulf.

A month ago, a peaceful demonstration demanding a monarchy Constitution was opposed savagely by the interior police force.  The Saudi monarchy dispatched police reinforcement into Bahrain.

The people in Bahrain have a long history of mass uprising against their despot of Al Khalifa family.  They protested in 1922 against fiscal discrimination and working for free for the royal family.  In 1938, the colonial British sent militants from Bahrain to the island of St. Helene (the same island where Napoleon died in) because the militants fomented a revolt demanding a Constitution.

Do you know that common citizens in Bahrain are not able to take a swim in the sea?  All the seashore of this island is private property to the Al Khalifa family!  More than 20% of the seacoast has been filled and reclaimed for touristic projects belonging to the “Royal family”.  Many parcels of lands have been rented for a century for just two dollars per year.

A month ago, the citizens in Bahrain have been gathering in the “Pearl Square” or “Sahat al lou2louat” demanding equitable and modern reforms.  The people do not want this Prime Minister for life or a monarch for life… These kinds of understandable things.

The US Defense Minister got enough of this peaceful and determined upheaval and landed two days ago in Bahrain; he coordinated the planning for dispatching a joint expeditionary force composed of Saudi and Arab Emirate soldiers into Bahrain.

Today, Wednesday, this Saudi “preemptive force” invaded Bahrain equipped with full gears, poisonous gas grenades, and assault helicopters.  Today, twelve people were killed and over 150 injured.  Hospitals have been vandalized by the government in order to dislodge the injured citizens and cutting off electric power. A curfew was proclaimed for three months.  Physicians and nurses who tended to the injured people were taken to prison and beaten badly!

What plan of retreat does Saudi Arabia monarchy prefers?  Personally, I think that the longer the Saudi stay in Bahrain the quicker the revolution spreads in Saudi Arabia.

Funny, even Kuwait has joined the expeditionary force.  Time for Iraqis to re-invade this stupid Kuwaiti Emirate.

Note:   The demonstrators have no arms; it was a peaceful mass protest and nobody can deny it!  The “Kingdom” in Bahrain feels assured to resuming rounding up the opposition leaders:  Three prisoners died so far in prison, and more disappeared “sons and daughters” are emerging  in morgues: The spirit of revolt in grounding.  Kuwait is apparently mediating acceptable reforms, while exacerbating the diplomatic  situation with Iran!  Iran is capitalizing on the failure of the Arab Emirate States and Saudi Arabia in resolving the problem before stepping in. 

Once the people in Bahrain are armed, the inevitable armed scenario of “kicking occupiers out” will be successful in no time.  The domino effects will have ample reason to be demonstrated again.

How long have you graduated? Are you still in training?

There is this mentality of “auto-exploitation syndrome” that has been rampant in the last 15 years.  Worse, politicians, governments, universities, and the “trainees” have opted not to making waves, for jobs well-done gratis:  There is a deadly conspiracy of “silence“. Why?

The trainees are apprehensive of “ruining their professional perspectives“; universities are happy to be paid for units obtained outside the university premises; and the best of all, talented trainees pay employees in companies to be able to work for free!

For example, in order to work for free at Versace, in-training costs the trainees $5,000; to have a blogging right at the site of the Huffington Post, the trainee has to caught up $13,000.  One crazy mature trainee paid $42,000 for the privilege of working just two days at Vogue!

Do you know that Dream Careers (California-based) sells over two thousand training jobs around the world?  Trainees pay over $8,000 to work for free during an 8-week summer session.  and If you selected to be “trained” in London, you pay $9,500!

It goes without saying that the pedagogic and training values of these summer stints are practically worthless, whether organized by Dream Careers or universities.

Ross Perlin estimated that capitalist enterprises in the US benefit $two billion from these free training professional jobs.

Why pay an employee if hoards of young talented in-training graduates are willing to pay to work?  Actually, most of these internet start-ups have made it big on the shoulders of excited talented graduates who were “thankful” of contributing to challenging new technologies.

In the US, 50% of trainees don’t receive any compensation; a few get some social benefits, gas stipends, or health coverage… Trainees at the White House or Westminster don’t count: Their folks lend them the Aston Martin to drive and horses to ride

75% of trainees in the US have a second part-time paying job, just to enjoy the training privilege!

What of these graduates who hop from one training session to another, spanning more than two years, in order to land a steady job that is not within their field of study?  Thousands of graduates in developed States, like Sweden and Germany, spend years after graduation in training sessions; many decided to immigrate to Norway, working in odd jobs because the pay is good.

This idiotic capitalist system keeps reinventing means of exploiting talented brains for free.

Note 1: The heir of the Huffington Post internet site reaped $300 million and all these talented volunteers received not a dime.  It is the case of all these big internet international companies, shareholders making billions, while the gratis volunteers are glad contributing in projects “bigger than life”.

Note 2:  Don’t be fooled with the so-called “Non-profit organizations“.  They just fill those stupid legal forms:  The scores of directors and managers, with no practical job descriptions, receive hefty salaries at the expense of thousands of zealous volunteers.

Bob Dylan’s lyrics and ballades extensively cited: Arguments and decisions in court of law

Are you familiar with Bob Dylan’s songs? Like “Chimes of Freedom”, “The Time, they are A-Changing”,  “Blowin’ in the Winds”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”,and the ballades “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”, “Hurricane”,

Current judges in the US have been citing Bob Dylans lyrics and ballades in arguments and decisions in court of law: The judges were big fans of Dylan’s songs in the 60’s and 70’s.  The judges are harvesting what impressed upon them in their youth and applying them in their verdicts in court of law.

For example, in “Chimes of Freedom” that says:

“We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing/

As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds/

Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing/

Flashing for the warrior whose strength is not to fight/

Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight/

An’ for each and every underdog soldier in the night/

An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing…

Illegal immigrants, liable for expulsion or repatriation were incarcerated for several years in prison.  Dylan song during the civil rights period was a catalyst for reviewing immigrant detention cases.

The case of the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was reviewed in 1985 and a judge managed to cancel the condamnation in 1985 because the case was based on racism and not on reason and due process of the law.

“All of Rubin’s cards were marked in advance/

The trial was a pig-circus he never had a chance…/

A traffic officer had stopped Rubin and found cartrideges in the car that were later linked to a triple murder done by some else.  These elements were supposed to be excluded from the file-case of the accusation, because the policeman had “no reasonable suspicion” and the cartradges were not receivable proofs.  Consequently, traffic officers have no longer the right of stop drivers without valid traffic violation…

What is the story of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”?  A rich young man, William Zantziger, beat to death the servant Hattie for not responding quickly to the drink he ordered.  Zantzinger served only a 6-month term in prison.  Equitable punishment was raised as a priority hot case in court of laws.

A judge relied on “The Times are A-Changing” in the sexual discrimination case of an employer excluding contraceptive means in the assurance-medication plan to his employees.

A judge reminisces: “I don’t recall what was Dylan’s song, but adored the imagination, the words, words we never thought of associating; and ideas that grew in your head as you listened.  Suddenly, you are hearing a language talking the truth, something you were not used to hear on radio…”

Note: References to songs in court of law are many.  Bob Dylan registered the highest number of citation of 186, followed by the Beatles (74), Bruce Springsteen (69), Paul Simon (59), Woody Guthrie (43), Rolling Stones (39), Grateful Dead (32), Joni Mitchell (28), REM (27) citations.

Social Group Dynamics in Lebanon

Joanna Choukeir published, in May 22, 2009, this thesis with the relevant literature review that defines the social structure in Lebanon, outlines barriers to social integration, and proposes solutions for overcoming these barriers; all in relation to youth members of social groups.

In describing social groups in Lebanon, this research makes frequent referencing to Safia Antoun Saadeh’s book ‘The Social Structure of Lebanon’ (Saadeh, 1992) . Dar Annahar, a prominent publishing house in Beirut, reviewed the book as a rare piece of work (adonis49 did also review this book extensively).  Although numerous books have been written about Lebanon in the past decades, very few were those that ‘dealt specifically and comprehensively with the social composition of Lebanon from a structural point of view.’ (Dar Annahar, 2008).

A Nominal Social Structure

Peter Blau distinguished two types of parameters in a social structure, the nominal and the graduated. The former divides the population into impermeable groups with no possibility of overlaps such as gender, religion or race, while the latter divides society into groups that may alter over time such as age, income or power. The correlation of both the nominal and graduated parameter leads to the ordinal parameter that forms the hierarchies of a social structure. (Saadeh, 1992 pp.19).

In Lebanon, the division of social groups is based on the nominal parameter of religious affiliation (Saadeh, 1992 pp.20).  The social groups incorporate three religions: Islam (including Druze), Christianity and Judaism, divided into 18 sects and dispersed in mixed and uniform towns and cities across Lebanon. Saadeh refers to these social groups as castes, because of their characteristic similarities.

The nominal social structure is reflected in the division of power in the government according to a consociational democratic system. Article 24 of the Lebanese Constitution states that The Chamber of Deputies should be elected on a confessional basis along three criteria: Equal representation between religions, proportional representation between sects and proportional representation between different geographic regions. 

The Doha agreement  for the 2009 elections equally represented two religious groups, Christians and Muslims, proportionally divided into 11 sects (each forming at least one political party) and distributed along 25 districts. The total is 128 deputees who are considered official representatives of their respective social groups.

Pillars

Barriers to Social Integration

Throughout history, the conflict between social groups in Lebanon witnessed everchanging solidarities and oppositions, many of which resulted in civil wars, the last ending in 1990. Today, although the conflict is mainly non-violent, Lebanese social groups are still noticeably isolated (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 74).

Kamal Salibi writes that actual contact between different social groups is almost entirely restricted to political co-operation (Salibi, 1977 pp. xiv).  Mohammed El Machnouk reiterates this by comparing the social structure to the Baalbeck pillars with only the top part – the government – holding the pillars – the social groups – together (Machnouk, 2001 min. 9:45).  Saadeh examines the links between social groups further, by expanding on five features of the post-civil war social structure that have erected or accentuated barriers to social integration (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 76) . The features are expanded on below, and discussed in relation to their effect on youth integration:

1– Socio-political rigidity: The most influential social group altered throughout historical episodes: Druzes during the Ottoman rule (1516-1918), Maronite Christians during and after the French Mandate (1926-1975) and Sunni Muslims following the 15-year Civil War (1995-present) (Salibi, 1977 & Traboulsi, 2007). Since the Independence in 1943, Article 95 of the Lebanese constitution gave social groups hierarchical supremacy in the government depending on the size of their communities. Thus, people became entrenched in their social groups and are continuously attempting to increase their numbers. This has created an ongoing competition among different social groups to advance in power at the expense of the others, thus breeding discrimination in youth on the basis of religious affiliation (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 76-79).

2– Segregation: The Civil War restructured an unofficial physical geographical segregation in such a way that every major social group now dominates at least one area: The Druze in the Shouf, the Shiites in the Bekaa and South Lebanon, the Sunnis in Tripoli and Sidon and parts of North Lebanon, and the Maronites in Metn, Keserwan and parts of North Lebanon. The population in the capital city Beirut is divided into Christians in East Beirut, Sunnis in most of West Beirut, and Shiites in South and some of West Beirut. Three decades of geographical segregation led to the growth of young individuals isolated from their counterparts in other social groups. They were brought up to, at best ignore, and at worse denigrate, the ‘other side’. This has led to fear, apprehension and distrust between young people of different social groups, thus deepening the lines of segregation (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 79-81).

3– Emphasis on differences rather than similarities: To set themselves apart as an identifiable community, each social group adopted a peculiar lifestyle through fashion, values, language and dialect. Elements of the Lebanese cultural identify were very homogeneous, so social groups looked outside Lebanon for cultural identities of nations they paralleled their religious beliefs to. Thus Sunnis associated with Saudi Arabia, Shiites with Iran, and Christians with the West. As a result, youth groups acquired in their upbringing, skills that allowed them to identify and judge members of other social groups by their physical appearance, their dialects or their interests (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 81-84).

4– Social institutions: A number of these furthered the continuation of disparate social groups.

First Institution is the Judiciary System.  It is divided into state laws (such as voting and business laws) that are set and controlled by the government, and exclusive personal status laws (such as marriage and inheritance) for each sect. Every social group must adhere to the personal status laws placed by the religious agency that represents it.

Therefore, Bkirki, supported by the Maronite Council, is the reference point for Maronite laws, Majlis al-Millah for Greek Orthodox, Dar al-Ifta for Sunni, Al Majlis al-Shii al-Aala for Shia, and Shaykh al-Aql for Druze. The absence of a common civil law for all has increased inequality and division among social groups. A simple example is family members of different religions being unable to inherit from one another because different personal status laws would apply for each religion (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 85-88).

The second institution is marriage. It is closely regulated because it can jeapordise the very existence of social groups if inter-community marriages and births are not supervised. On religious grounds, a Muslim woman is prohibited from marrying into another religious group, but a Christian woman is not. Furthermore, children follow the religious sect of their fathers. These two factors resulted in an increase in Muslims and decrease in Christians, giving the latter group an incentive to promote social controls and pressures that deter youth groups from marrying into other social groups, and encourage endogamy (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 88-89). From 1952 to the present, the Lawyer’s syndicate has requested numerously that civil marriage be initiated, but religious agencies have refused continuously. (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 86).

The third institution is educational system that limits social integration, which is separated into the private and public sectors. Before the civil war, the government that ran the public sector encouraged the mingling of students and staff of different social groups within the same institution, but from as ealry as 1976, public institutions started quickly dividing into branches representing the religious affiliation of the local area. In addition, the public sector is notorious for its lack of organization and low standards, and this has driven many parents who can afford it, to resort to the private sector for the education if their children.

Religious institutions mainly run this sector, and open their doors to students within the same affiliation with minor exceptions. In these private institutions, the content and cultural aspects of the teachings are driven along religious ideologies (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 90-91). As a consequence, both the public and private educational sectors today offer very limited opportunities in schools and universities for youth of different social groups to study in a diverse environment.

5– Social mobility: In general terms, this refers to the movement of individuals from one social group to another. If this movement occurs at the same level, it contributes largely to social integration. However, in Lebanon, it is only possible on an upward or downward level according to two strict conditions: The first is the upper or lower movement of the social group as a whole, and the second is the upper or lower movement of the individual within his/her own social group. Attempts that met the first condition in the past led to two civil wars, in 1958 and 1975, both guided by the Sunnis as they tried to move upwards towards the Maronite group. Attempts that met the second condition led to further segregation between members of the same social groups as they tried to unseat the feudal families and overtake supremacy of the social group. The most violent of these attempts was the devastating war in 1989 between Michel Aoun’s army and the Lebanese Forces. The consequence was a division that is still existent today in the Maronite social group. Safia Saadeh states that ambitious youths who seek to further their status beyond the social mobility restrictions in Lebanon find immigration as the only outlet (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 91-94).

Large-Pillars

A Solution to Social Segregation

In her concluding chapter, Saadeh contemplates different solutions for integrating divided social groups. She discusses a number of different alternatives in the political system; from maintaining consociational democracy to shifting towards complete democracy, fundamentalism or secularism. She dissects every system and controverts it offering reasons as to why it wouldn’t solve the problem (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 117-124). These arguments will not be covered here because the subject of this research is not aiming to alter the political system.  However, what this research is concerned with is the eventual solution that Saadeh proposes on the social rather than political level. She refers to this as social association through five steps (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 124-126):

1– Opening up geographical areas and mixing populations.

2– Promoting the proliferation of social groups into many parties rather than the strict division of Christian and Muslim. This provides a greater leeway for intergroup association.

3– Profiting from the open economy to encourage business interactions between members of different social groups.

4– Dividing labour opportunities geographically to encourage the mobility of workers into different areas.

5– Encouraging intergroup friendships and relationships.

In the recent past, a number of organisations such as Youth for Tolerance, the Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue and UNESCO, have placed at least one of these steps high on their agendas.

It is important to note that integration is not the amalgamation of a society into one social group (Saadeh, 1992 pp. 124). On the contrary, it is the tolerance, interaction and cooperation of diversified social groups for pluralistic existence; to replace segregation, discrimination and hostility that may culminate in their extinction.

References:

Article 24, The Lebanese Constitution. (1926, ammended 1995).

Dar Annahar (2008) Description: The Social Structure of Lebanon [Internet] Available from <http://www.darannahar.com/category/1000280/product/319/&gt;[Accessed 18 May 2009]

Doha agreement (2008).

Mashnouk, M. (2001) Interview in: The War of Lebanon, The Roots of Conflict. Episode 2. Directed by Omar Al-Issawi. Doha: Al Jazeera, 44min [Video: DVD]

Saadeh, S. A. (1992) The Social Structure of Lebanon: Democracy or Servitude? Beirut: Dar Annahar.

Salibi, K. (1977) The Modern History of Lebanon. New York: Caravan Books.

Traboulsi, F. (2007) A History of Modern Lebanon. London: Pluto Press.


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