Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Beirut Madinati

Reflections on protests in sectarian system

How the youth movement fared?

Carmen Geha| The Daily Star

Last month Bassem Youssef did his first stand-up comedy in the Middle East. His opening joke? Lebanon has outdone all its Arab counterparts.

“By having no president, Lebanese have nothing to protest against. They took the streets last year to protest against the garbage!”

Many of my activist friends at Bassem’s show did not chuckle at this joke because to us the 2015 summer protests were spurred by the garbage crisis but the protesters carried deeper grievances than the garbage itself.

It is precisely because the protesters framed the garbage crisis as a political crisis that the protest movement was doomed to begin with. (I disagree with that conclusion and the framing of it)

One year later, waste management in Lebanon has been returned to its status quo, or perhaps been worsened. (Isn’t it proof enough that the garbage was political in nature?)

Not only has Sukleen regained control at lower environmental standards and higher cost but most of the garbage that was piling up is now in our sea and mountains.

So what can we learn from this other than that Lebanese political elite still stink even at providing the very basics of public services?

Lebanon did not witness mass uprisings such as the ones experienced in Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Egypt in 2010 and 2011. The Lebanese system instead appears to maintain a strong path of dependence on a century-old power-sharing formula that is based on sectarian representation.

But the absence of mass uprisings should not be mistaken as the absence of mass grievances or political oppositions felt by citizens across sectarian communities.

Grievances culminated a year ago amid a massive Syrian refugee crisis, electricity and water shortages, political deadlock and mounts of garbage piling up.

A group of activists gathered under the slogan of “You Stink” initiated a series of sit-ins following the closing of the Naameh landfill.

On July 25, a mere 1,000 citizens took part in a first march in Downtown Beirut. A handful of activists threw garbage bags at the Grand Serail while others chanted slogans against the sectarian system.

The “You Stink” movement unleashed a series of protests and led to other movements including “We Want Accountability” and “To the Street” to express their discontent with the political class through a series of protests.

The Lebanese system reacted with violence and mass arrests of protest organizers. Tens of unarmed civilians were arrested over the course of the summer, hundreds were injured, and thousands were attacked with live bullets and water cannons.

In response to violence on Aug. 23, police erected a concrete barrier in Downtown Beirut. The largest protest was on Aug. 20. Media reported more than 150,000 citizens for the first time in Lebanon’s history took the streets. (I think a larger march happened in 1970 when an Israeli commando, headed by Ehud Barrack, murdered 3 Palestinian leaders in Verdun street)

Protesters were explicitly non-partisan and insisted to claim this whenever being interviewed by media reporters. In fact, scores of citizens claimed they were either Muslim, Christian or Druze but that they were taking part as true Lebanese nationals who believe that the government has failed at the simplest task of picking up the trash.

Gradually demands for political change and a sustainable waste management solution dwindled.

Why would demands as simple as finding a solution to waste trigger such oppressive and violent responses from the political class?

To answer this question we need to consider the very essence of the relations between the protesters and the state in Lebanon.

After the Civil War the same political elite agreed on an amnesty law that allowed them to enter Parliament and ministries as government executives and to gear state resources for partisan and sectarian interests.

Because waste management is a lucrative sector, the protesters threatened their interests. A reflection on the protest, one year later, allows us to capture how the political elite expressed their frustrations by deploying six mechanisms of co-optation and threat that politicians used to stifle the protest movements.

The first three are:

1. Co-optation through discourse, which happens when politicians adopt the demands of protesters and make claims similar to the demands of protesters. For example following the largest protest on Aug. 29, the Free Patriotic Movement organized a mass rally in which the energy minister himself shared the complaint of protesters about electricity cuts.

2. Co-optation through infiltration also took place in 2015 when the protests that are overtly anti-political class attracted scores of partisan supporters raising diverging slogans or confusing the media about the demands of the protesters.

3.  Co-optation through dialogue occurred when the National Dialogue table brought together yet again politicians without reaching any agreement. While politicians debated a new president, protesters tried to block the roads demanding immediate solutions to the garbage.

The remaining three are mechanisms of threat.

The threat of violence occurred with security forces arrested more than 40 civilian protesters calling them by their names and rendering the movement almost leaderless.

Although the arrests backfired briefly because more and more protesters empathized, on the long term it hurt the movement with imminent arrests lurking at every subsequent protest.

The threat to co-existence took place in 2015 when politicians directly claimed that protests could shake the sectarian status quo. Lebanese politicians claimed Lebanon cannot afford a revolt and that protests were allowing hooligans to destroy Downtown Beirut.

Threat to economic interests took place by signaling to their supporters not to join the protests. Given the clientelistic nature of Lebanese politics and absence of quality public services economic benefits are granted in return of support to political elite.

These six mechanisms should not deter further movements. They are a mere call for reflective analysis and future predictability about how the Lebanese system can and will react to mass protests that threaten the interests of political elite within the state.

Polarization between March 8 and March 14 factions should not be mistaken as division among their ranks. In effect and on all public policy issues March 8 and March 14 factions converge. (This All is very simplistic and tangent to clarifying the issues)

They shared the same stances of co-optation and threat only to end up by consensus selecting Sukleen again to manage the waste.

In the 2016 municipal elections in Beirut, a new independent campaign called “Beirut Madinati” coincided with the coalescence of March 8 and March 14 factions to support a Hariri-backed list in Beirut.

The protests of 2015 should be invested in a deep reflection on how a cross-sectarian movement can co-opt and threaten political elite in the future, rather than run the risk of being co-opted and threatened out of existence.

Carmen Geha is an assistant professor for Public Administration at the American University of Beirut, she is author of “Civil Society and Political Reform in Lebanon and Libya.”

Her research focuses on public reform in weak states and power-sharing systems. This article is part of publications on mobilization dynamics in Lebanon. She holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of St. Andrews.

Note: This Tuesday, several ministers took to the air to explain the problems.

The Minister of finance was admitting that the communication ministry embezzled $millions from illegal internet lines, and the minister of Agriculture (appointed de facto minister of environment for the garbage crisis) went into lengthy explanation of the problems and the alternatives that are under way.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 22, 2016, on page 7.

What Lebanese learned from this municipal election in Beirut?

The demographic of voters in Beirut have changed drastically in this century: rare are the original inhabitants.
Rate of voting in Beirut (20%) didn’t change from 2010 to 2016. Because 40% of the voters in Beirut have immigrated never to return, Not even to vote or visit.

To increase the rate the voting system needs to change: People working or living in Beirut should have the right to vote in Beirut.

The list of candidates of all the political parties, allied this time around and without exception, barely won the election with 41,000 votes against 30,000 votes for the secular and civil list of candidates.

Thus, the Hariri clan, headed by Sa3d Hariri and called the Moustakbal movement or Solidair of Beirut, retained this municipality since 1993 with no discontinuity and divided the city into the have and the barely surviving (Abu rakhoussa) in all aspect of facilities.

The Armenians (Tashnak) were pressured to vote for the this militia-type governing system by casting 6,000 votes and the Amal militia of Nabih Berry (Chairman of Parliament for the last 3 decades) casted 3,000 votes, and even the Islamic movements shared with 2,000 votes.

Beirut.com posted:

Beirut’s people have spoken, and once again they’ve chosen to elect a municipal list backed by ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri and allies.


Image via middleeasteye.net

This was met with much frustration from people who had been working and rallying tirelessly for 9-months in the hopes that the grassroots movement Beirut Madinati would triumph over the mainstream faces that have dominated Lebanese politics for so long.

But that is democracy. Sometimes, the Donald Trumps of the world win, the underdog loses, and things remain the same. That’s the good and the bad of democracy – everybody, even those you disagree with, have the right to choose.

Though Beirut Madinati lost in numbers, they gave us something we haven’t seen in a long time: an actual electoral race, there was competition and transparency – they put up a good fight.

It’s also important to note that gross violations including bribery, discounting entire boxes of votes, and more are being reported.

The municipal elections were taken very seriously this year, probably unlike most years, in part because Lebanese political leadership was establishing its (dwindling) support and presence, and in part because it was the first election held in over six years after parliamentary elections were postponed (read: cancelled, deputies extending their tenure under lame excuses).

Our first vote in six years, and how did we fare? Not well.

A 20.14% voter turnout in such grim times is very telling. Has everyone in Beirut given up? Have we forgotten the trash crisis and the budgeting scandals?

The next steps for Beirut Madinati are crucial – will they disappear like so many civil movements before them?

Or will they take the responsibility that was given to them by whatever percentage of Beirut and Lebanon’s people and step up to represent them in any way they can: activism, lobbying, raising awareness, and continuing to be the beacon of hope for change.

Note: All the political parties, the 8 and 14 of March movements, joined forces in order to have their share in the cake, a cake that is already shrinking and spoiling fast. They want to keep this rotten system alive for as long as they can.

Kel al a7zaab 3am bet ross al sfouf le sha2fet al jebneh al montahiyyat al sala7iyyat

Nabil Hassan posted  6 hrs · Beirut ·

رأي شخصي بعد هالتجربة الرائعة:
1. النتائج فوز رائع لبيروت مدينتي، أكثر من 30.000 صوت بوجه جميع أحزاب السلطة يعني إنتصار كبير….
2. الإنتخابات كان فيها بهدلة كبيرة بالتنظيم أغلبها ناتج عن قلة خبرة رؤوساء الأقلام يلي ما كانوا أساتذة بل أغلبهم موظفين دولة ما تم تدريبهم بشكل وافي. أغلب المخالفات يلي يتم تداولها تقع بهذه الخانة ورغم أنه هيدا الشي مش مسموح ولكن بأغلبه غير مقصود ضد لائحة أو أخرى….
3. بنفس الوقت في بما لا يقبل الشك، محاولات واضحة للتزوير ضد بيروت مدينتي صارت بعدد من ننتائج الأقلام وتمكن فريق العمل بعد إصراره على إعادة الفرز من تصحيح أغلبها، هيدي محاولة تزوير واضحة ولا ترتبط بالنقطة أعلاه…..
4. بالسياسة خسرنا لما أستخدموا حجة الطائفة بخطر وروجوا إشاعات عن دعم حزب الله لنا ! وهيدا كان أكبر مؤثر على خيارات الناخب السني…
5. إستفدنا كثير بالصناديق من رغبة الأحزاب توصل رسائل لبعضها بنفس الوقت أغلب التصويت هو رفض لنهج وطريقة تعاطي الأحزاب وزعمائها وهذا ما يبنى عليه ….
6. الناس يلي صوتت ضدنا، واجباتننا نحترم خيارها وكثير غلط وغير واقعي وغير سليم لومها وتصويرها بالغنم وما شابه. هيدي الناس ببساطة في جزء منها مقتنع بخياره وفي جزء الأكبر منها خايف طائفياً ولا يزال يرى الحماية بالإلتزام بحزبه. هيدي ناس لازم نستقطبها وما نبعدها….
7. ولا مرة كنا ضد الأحزاب أصلاً، بس برجع بقول، لا تغيير شامل بالبلد غير لما الشباب تغير داخل حزبها وتنتفض ويرجع يصير في أحزاب جدية وعم تلعب دورها مش فرق عمل للزعماء، لكن الإنتماء الحزبي ليس تهمة والأحزاب دورها مهم…..
8. بالتكتبك نجحنا بكثير مجالات ونجحنا بخلق حالة رائعة وتعلمنا كثير لكل المعارك يلي جاية، مش ممكن تخرق أحزاب بماكنات ما عندها خبرة إنتخابية، بس خبرة مكانتنا عم تكبر وتتعزز….
9. نتائج إنتخابات بعلبك والهرمل وبريتال وزحلة والكثير من القرى تتماشى مع بيروت وتثبت أن الأحزاب ما زالت بمسارها الإنحداري والأمل كبير بالتغيير….
10. جو المتطوعين، والمندوبين، وفريق العمل والمرشحين رجع الفرح والأمل والحب والإلتزام النظيف للسياسة، شكراً لكل واحد منكم وعذراً عبى كل تقصير….
11. إصلاح القانون واجب ودعم LADE بهالمجال ضرورة قصوى بالإصلاحات التقنية وبشكل القانون، علماً انه هيك نتائج رح يكون لها أثر كبير بأي قانون قادم والخوف من تالنسبية رح يزداد وهيدا شي خطر ويجب متابعته….
المعركة طويلة وعم نتقدم خطوات سريعة أكثر ما كلنا منتوقع، مواجهة كل أحزاب السلطة بالإنتخابات وتقديم بديل جدي كان حلم بعيد وصار حقيقة وقريب وممكن، نحن أقرب من أي وقت مضى ومكملين بكل زخم وأمل وحب لهالبلد. ‫#‏بيروت_مدينتي‬، ‫#‏الأمل‬

Full Municipal Council Program of  Beirut Madinati:

The Program

The Beirut Madinati Municipal Program is a plan to improve living conditions in Beirut.  It was developed by experts with decades of experience in research, consultancy, and advocacy work in urban affairs, and who have found that for many years their advocacy for people-centered urban development has fallen on deaf ears in Lebanon’s centers of power.

Realizing the futility of continuing to try to convince the Beirut Municipal Council to adopt the livability of the city as a core concern, this group has launched a campaign to elect qualified individuals whose primary objective is to make Beirut more livable: more affordable, more walkable, more green, more accessible, and, simply, more pleasant.

Najat Rizk shared a link.
beirutmadinati.com


Our Vision of beirut

The Program recognizes Beirut as a cultural and economic center in the region, the heart of a metropolitan area, the capital city of Lebanon, and its main gateway to the outside world. It envisions Beirut as a vibrant, dynamic, and efficient city that:

  • values social inclusivity, accessibility, and diversity, and is forward-looking in its commitments to long-term sustainable development,
  • embraces its waterfront,
  • celebrates its rich heritage as an economic and cultural capital,
  • boasts an integrated network of green, socially inclusive public spaces,
  • offers a variety of housing options to respond to the multiple needs of its dwellers,
  • works with surrounding towns to respond to the imperatives of urban mobility and adequate shelter,
  • recognizes the need to live in harmony with its environment,
  • capitalizes on and benefits from entrepreneurship and innovation to sustain economic growth and job creation,
  • and upgrades its public services and amenities to improve the livelihoods and wellbeing of its citizens.

Beirut is the city where we want our children to grow and build their futures, where our parents can age gracefully, and where we aspire to live.


OUR VISION OF THE MUNICIPALITY

Beirut Madinati envisions the city’s municipality as the public agency that represents and responds to the needs of all city dwellers and derives its legitimacy by representing them rather than representing particular political parties.

The municipality will be transparent in its planning and budgeting processes, and will provide numerous channels for those who live or work in Beirut to shape the municipality’s priorities and workings, and to request specific actions.

The municipality will be aware of the best practices of municipalities world-wide, will employ those appropriate to Beirut, and will draw on the large, underutilized pool of technical experts available in Lebanon to implement innovative approaches for addressing our most pressing problems.


OUR PROGRAM IN 10 points

Beirut’s municipality has the powers and resources it needs to alleviate many of the problems that make living and working in Beirut ever more difficult. Beirut Madinati will marshal these to make Beirut a better place for all of us.

Below are 10 key promises of the Beirut Madinati campaign, drawn from a more detailed planning document that is available on the BM.com website.

1.Mobility

Improve urban mobility through an integrated strategy that makes soft options (i.e. walking, biking) more viable, enhances and organizes shared transportation systems (e.g. large buses, mini-vans, services, taxis) within the administrative city boundaries and beyond, and reduces air pollution.

This strategy will also address the commute within the Greater Beirut area by reorganizing, in partnership with public authorities and other municipalities, existing systems (e.g. buses, mini-buses, services, taxis), and establishing new, rapid bus lines with dedicated roads and parking facilities on the outskirts of the city.  In addition, we will introduce neighborhood-level public parks with underground parking facilities.

In addition to creating public gardens, storing cars underground will free space for wider sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Finally, we will improve traffic management in the city, in partnership with local traffic and the police force, in ways that enforce traffic regulations and improve driving behavior.

Today about 70% of trips in Beirut rely on the use of private cars. At peak hours, most of these cars move at the speed of a pedestrian walking at a normal pace.

Only 3% of current trips are conducted by walking and/or biking. The rest relies on shared modes of transportation.

Within 6 years only 45% of trips will be conducted by private cars, and at least 15% will be by walking or biking. The remaining 40% will be through shared transportation.

2.GREENERY &
PUBLIC SPACE

Improve greenery and public space by incorporating the city’s shared spaces into a network of green passages and spaces that simultaneously act as pedestrian paths and as an array of meeting and play areas of multiple sizes and functions.

We will upgrade the entire waterfront by improving its accessibility and views, and by strengthening its role as an attractive socially and economically active zone that can support livelihoods. We will increase the number of publically accessible green areas in the city.

Every neighborhood will have at least one public garden that serves the local community.

Today Beirut offers less than 1m2/person of green open space while the World Health Organization recommends at least 9 m2/person.

Within 6 years we will increase that number to at least 5m2/capita.

3.HOUSING

Make housing more affordable for future homeowners and tenants. We will introduce incentives for developers to upgrade or replace deteriorating housing and propose new planning tools to revise the incentive and taxation structures that currently hinder production of affordable housing.

We will develop upgrading strategies for informal settlements and low-income neighborhoods where housing stocks have gravely deteriorated. Finally, by reducing the cost and inconvenience of commuting (point 1 above), families will find it easier to live outside the city’s administrative borders where housing is more affordable.

We will also address the issue of the old rent regulation in a framework that recognizes both the rights of landlords to their assets and the tenants’ rights to live in the city.

Today the average price of an apartment is more than $570,000, or 1270 times the minimum monthly wage. At this rate, more than half of the children in Beirut today will not be able to secure a home in the city.

4.WASTE MANAGEMENT

Implement an integrated solid waste management strategy by providing incentives for businesses and households to reduce waste, sort at the source, and by implementing a system of secondary sorting, reuse and recycling.

In addition, we will establish an Office of Solid Waste Management inside the Municipality of Beirut to ensure that we never again face a garbage crisis, and to work towards making Beirut a model zero waste city.

The Office will work with regional and national agencies and authorities to establish and maintain sanitary landfills and dispose of toxic waste and to articulate and implement the long term waste reduction strategy. Finally, and in the event that the current waste crisis is not solved by the time the Campaign takes office in May, we will implement an emergency crisis measure to set in place a dismountable state of the art waste treatment facility within the municipal boundaries of the city.

Today Beirut produces 600 tons/day of solid waste. 90% of this waste is landfilled despite the fact that almost all of it recyclable.

Within 6 years Beirut will recycle at least 40% of its solid waste, and implement management methods that are in compliance with best practices world wide.

5.NATURAL HERITAGE

Protect and develop Beirut’s built and natural heritage, including its waterfront, as a cultural and economic resource that enhances character, enriches cultural life, plays a role in economic development, fosters cultural tourism and enhances competitiveness in business recruitment and retention.

Today the Beirut coastline is largely occupied by private complexes, restaurants, and other facilities that block access and view to the sea.

Within 6 years we will establish an interlinked network of public gardens, open spaces, a publicly accessible waterfront and natural and architectural heritage.

6.COMMUNITY SPACES
& SERVICES

Build community spaces and enhance services, in partnership with stakeholders and active NGOs.  We will equip the city with community centers, libraries, social support services, educational facilities, and other elements vital to the social life of the city.

Today Beirut has only three public libraries, built in partnership between the Municipality and an NGO, As-Sabeel.

No new library has been built in the past 6 years. The city has no other public community centers.

Within 6 years we will double the number of public libraries and enhance the larger infrastructure of social services

7.SOCIO-ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT

Integrate social justice, poverty alleviation, and socio-economic development as crosscutting goals to be addressed in all projects initiated by the municipality. The municipality will unfold initiatives and projects that revive local markets, stimulate entrepreneurship, and address unemployment and urban poverty. It will do so by actively connecting, partnering and bridging with both the private and the non-profit sectors.

Furthermore, in its assessment of every municipal project, it will consider and integrate the social and economic impacts and benefits to the middle and lower income groups. The municipality will actively review the local taxation system, identify unfair and harmful elements to the livelihoods of Beirut’s inhabitants, and advocate actively for its transformation.

Today unemployment stands at double its 2011 level, and one in four job seekers, half of whom are youth, cannot find a job. Many of the poverty pockets are located within Beirut and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Businesses have difficulties growing and surviving while many households suffer from the rising cost of living.

Within 6 years the municipality will have installed local markets for small producers and buyers. It will contribute to an enabling environment for local entrepreneurship in sectors of relevance to the city’s economy and reduce entrepreneurs’ operational and infrastructural costs.

The Municipality will attach a social clause to every public work contract that requires contractors to consider the social impacts of their implementation strategies.

8.ENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY

Integrate principles of environmental sustainability and stewardship across all regulatory and operational interventions of the municipality, particularly in relation to the building development sector.  We will introduce regulations and incentives for utilizing building design strategies that minimize energy use, and for reducing the negative environmental impacts of construction activities.

We will introduce and lobby for the adoption of new local regulations and incentives for developers and builders to enhance biodiversity through the use of green roofs, greening vertical habitats, and the use of artificial nesting sites when applicable.

Finally, we will lead in the effort towards green building by retrofitting municipal buildings with modern energy and resource conservation technologies and by introducing regulatory constraints and incentives to improve the short, medium, and long-term energy efficiency and environmental qualities of the city.

Within 6 years we will renovate municipal buildings to become exemplars of green buildings, and establish incentives and clear design guidelines for new construction projects.

9.HEALTH AND SAFETY

Prioritize the health and safety of all city dwellers by recognizing the municipality’s responsibility to monitor, lobby for, and intervene through incentives and projects that provide clean water, reduce air pollution by reducing traffic and electricity generators, resolve the current waste crisis, improve  sewage management, among others.

We will also introduce an integrated lighting system that improves street safety and monitor crime rates and articulate neighborhood-based, community responses in areas where security conditions are deteriorating.

Today Beirut’s environment is a threat to everyday health because of poor air quality, poor levels of cleanliness, and the absence of monitoring of our air, water, and physical environment.

Within 6 years we will have clean city streets and will remove the large open-air waste bins that sit in our streets. To monitor water quality and set up a plan with the Beirut Water Authority to alleviate the water problems and their symptoms. To implement a city-wide lighting plan that improves night safety.

10.GOVERNANCE

Improve the organizational structure of the Municipality, train its staff, and address the main institutional challenges that have plagued the performance of councils for decades. We pledge to acknowledge, enhance, and sustain as the municipality’s main asset the wide network of active civil groups and NGOs that have invested in the well-being of the city.

We further pledge to work towards an efficient working relationship with the governor of Beirut and work with the governor’s office to set up a human resources department, which will evaluate municipal employee performance, improve social security coverage, and address the municipal civil servants’ inclusion in the civil servants’ funds (ta’awuniyya).
We also pledge to appoint a City Planner, experienced in the organization and management of city affairs, and will charge him/her with forming a team of qualified professionals who will implement our vision.

We will train municipal staff and introduce a performance-based system of evaluation that rewards loyalty to the city and its dwellers.
We will develop comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures to organize and govern the work and performance of all units and departments.

We will train municipal police and Beirut’s guard in the standards of community policing, and provide them with incentives to improve road safety, mobility, cleanliness, and thus improve security in the city, in collaboration with other security services.

We will introduce performance-based budgeting to better serve the needs of its dwellers in transparent and accountable ways. We will create multiple participatory structures through which city dwellers will be informed about the municipality and the city’s affairs and be given the channels to participate actively in the important decisions of the city’s future and its daily management.

Shifting from Demanding to Executing: Traditional political parties excluded from Beirut Municipal council

Beirut Madinati: The Shift from Demanding to Executing

In the past, I’d care more about getting the scoop and being the first to jump into a story. These days though, I realize that the more prudent thing to do is to observe for a bit and form an opinion and position when things become clearer, intentions become known and the circumstances almost inevitable.

Even if I’m a bit late to the party, here is my formal endorsement of Beirut Madinati’s campaign to win the Beirut municipal elections on the 8th of May, 2016.

Last Year’s Civil Unrest

  • “They’re not organized”
  • “There’s too many demands”
  • “The demands are too little”
  • “Why are they just focusing on the garbage? What about the president? Electricity?”
  • “Why are they focusing on other things instead of just the garbage?”

Those are the most common (and contradicting) comments I’ve heard in every discussion about last year’s protests. It is a classic case of damned if you do, damn if you don’t.

A hallmark of any attempts at a powerful grassroots movement in Lebanon’s recent history.

For me though, those comments were lazy and not taking into consideration how remarkable what was happening was.

After the coma grassroots sentiments were in for decades, they were suddenly back, diverse and plentiful. All we needed to do is add a little time, a pinch of pragmatism and a sprinkle of hope.

Almost 9 months since the unrest began, the Beirut Madinati campaign has signaled the shift in Lebanon’s civil society from demands on the streets, to elected office with a clear agenda and full transparency.

We Still Think We’re The “Youngest”

I still feel as part of the “youngest generation” in Lebanon. That the officer at the checkpoint is definitely older than me, when in fact I’m now probably 6 or 7 years older than him. That running for elections or voting is just an exam question in civics class. That people like us being elected to office is somewhere in the distant future, not the foreseeable one.

But, that’s no longer true for many early 90s kids like myself, who have NEVER voted but have become an integral part of Lebanon’s businesses, banks, hospitals, military and every other institution in Lebanon.

Well-established lawyers, engineers, scientists, architects, entrepreneurs, designers, musicians, journalists, analysts, consultants and academics. So, if you still remember those civics class lessons, at 25, you can run for office, and be appointed to a senior governmental position.

A Real Chance

Personally, my concern was that we were demanding our fair and urgent rights, but we were demanding them from the people who forced us onto the streets with their decades of corrupt and incompetent (and seemingly never-ending) reign.

How can we ask the crooks (mafia leaders) clinging to their seats to fix a problem they are the core of?

My second concern was that we did not always have a clear-cut solution we could all stand behind. That is normal in grassroots, largely leaderless movements.

We are taxpayers, not lawmakers and cabinet ministers. It’s not our job to find the appropriate solution, but it is our job to pressure and monitor the government’s institutions to make sure that they do find that solution.

Beirut Madinati has addressed both those concerns quite clearly. They are offering an alternative to the current status quo with a gender-balanced, independent and diverse group of Beirutis committed to utmost transparency and support from first time voters.

The younger generation that is less sectarian and politically polarized, and more pragmatic and tolerant.

They also put out a 40-page detailed program of what they’ll do when elected to office, and a shorter 10-point summary for you lazy bums who don’t wanna read the whole program. Their FAQ page is also a good read, especially on the weird dynamic between the Beirut municipality and Beirut’s governor.

From now till the 8th of May, I will be regularly posting about the election campaign on the ground, as well as helping make the case for Beirut Madinati.

If you want to contribute or volunteer, please do as soon as possible. There are already 2000 volunteers and the campaign needs all the support it can get in the run-up to the elections! Also, like their page on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Twitter. Make sure to check out their epic videos too.

They also hold weekly open houses at their offices in Badaro, and many other events which you can find on their Facebook page.

There’s a fundraiser at Bardo tonight too! See you guys there!

Note: The youth movements got bolder once they realized that pro-bono lawyers will Not leave any incarcerated demonstrator behind.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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