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Selfi Mohammad Chaar: “16-year old is not a Martyr nor a Hero”?

This is another re-post on the subject. This one was selected as one of the top posts on wordpress.com
16 year old Mohammad Chaar is not a Martyr nor a Hero.

I feel like I have no right to even mention your name.

I have been sitting at home reading the #RIPMohammadChaar tweets for the past four hours.

Your friend Yasmine broke my heart.

It’s killing me. Wow, what a weird choice of words.

I am going to make it worse by telling you that it’s not fair. And that no, you are not a martyr and that no, you are not a hero.

You are 16.

You still don’t know what you want to do, you just want to be stupid, have fun and stay up late with friends.

You want to kiss someone under the rain, steal your parent’s car, get into college, get a part time job and dance in the streets.

You won’t.

It’s unfair but you won’t.

You won’t because you were murdered and robbed from your friends and family. You won’t because some lowlife squeezed a button.

You did not pick this battle, you did not look for it.

Heroes and martyrs usually know what they’r fighting for.

Right now you are a murder victim.

You are not a hero. The only way for you to become a Hero is if your death does not go in vain.

The only way for you to be a martyr for a cause is if your death causes a change.

Every time this happens we hear the same reactions; and innocent people are automatically given martyrdom and hero status as if they were looking to die; for some cause that we don’t know of.

None of the innocent bystanders wanted to die.

If we gave them all a choice they would not have wanted to die, especially that it always goes in vain.

We cry and get angry, we organize a march or a sit in and then we forget.

Every single time! We get angry, we cry and then we forget.

This is going to happen again.

That’s the sad part, we all know that another bomb is going to blow up somewhere again soon. We have to do something about it.

We have to, this is unbearable.  We cannot accept this anymore, we cannot just sit and watch as homes are shattered, as people’s lives change in a second for nothing! We cannot stand by when 16 year old kids get slaughtered in mid day for reasons that we do not believe in!

We are not allowed to act cool anymore every time a bomb goes off and go have a drink because “nothing keeps us down”…

We cannot distance ourselves from the victims. Guys, anyone of us could have been there when the bomb went off.

I am sick of making phone calls to make sure everyone I know is alive every time a bomb goes off! (Actually, my nephew called a minute after the explosion to relieve our anxiety that he might be one of the victims)

Do you understand what we are getting used to? This is not the norm.

This has to change, we have a responsibility to change it: like it or not, more sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, cousins and friends are going to die!

Like it or not the bombs are going to keep going off!

Like it or not you are already in this fight! Someone is already killing you!

This is where we decide that enough is enough.

Our friends and families souls are not just statistics and numbers in a newspaper.

Our parents went through even worse times, they had non of the abilities and tools that we now have.

This is the time for us as a generation to say that we have had enough.

Mohammad’s friends are organizing a march that will start from his school “Hariri high school 2″ (next to Lycee Abdel Kader in Zarif) at 10a.m Monday morning leading to where the explosion took place (Details on this Facebook link).

They are asking people to get a white flower with them. They should be joined by students from all over the country. They should be joined by all of us.

This should not end here. I have a feeling it won’t. There already are calls for action.

Once and for all, let us make real Martyrs and real Heroes out of the innocents who have died.

Enough people have died in vain.

“The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.”- Søren Kierkegaard

Note: Another repost by Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, this December 30, 2013

‘Selfie’ captures slain teen’s last moments before powerful car bomb set off in ritzy Lebanese shopping district

Warning: Graphic images

It’s a happy moment, a selfie taken by a group of teenagers on a sunny day in downtown Beirut. Mohammed Shaar sits among his friends in a red hoodie and his dark-framed glasses.

The next photos, captured by journalists only moments later, are tragic. The 16-year-old Shaar lies mortally wounded, his red hoodie and his blood forming a scarlet blur on the pavement – an anonymous civilian casualty of a car bomb that killed a prominent politician.

The before-and-after montage of Shaar, who died of his wounds a day after Friday’s bombing, has rattled Lebanese who in Shaar’s ordinary-turned-horrifying day saw their own lives and potentially their own fate.

The Lebanese teenager has since become a symbol of a population held ransom (by the country’s widening violence and swelling tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria and foreign powers meddling in our crappy internal affairs).

On Monday, hundreds of Shaar’s fellow students marched to the Starco building, outside of which the bombing took place. They held signs saying “We are all Mohammed,” waved the Lebanese flag and left flowers.

The powerful car bomb targeted Mohammed Chatah, a former finance minister (allied with the Hariri clan and Al Moustakbal movement).

Chatah’s allies in a mainly Sunni political coalition, backed by the West, quickly pointed the finger at the Shiite Hezbollah guerrilla group, which denied the accusations.

But the blast, on a main avenue of the ritzy downtown shopping district, killed not only Chatah and his driver but also 8 passers-by – including Shaar.

Friends said Shaar was out in downtown celebrating the end of the school semester, having coffee with his three friends at a Starbucks.

They strolled through downtown to the Starco building, a complex of offices and shops. There, they took that last selfie (before going to play basketball)Moments later, the district was shaken by the blast, which sent a plume of black smoke over the area – and Shaar fell with a bleeding shrapnel wound in the head.

At his funeral on Sunday, sectarian anger bubbled up, with some mourners chanting anti-Shiite slogans.

But more prevalent was anger over being caught in the crossfire as powerful factions – whoever they may be – fight out their political differences. Shaar, a Sunni, wasn’t political or particularly religious, those who knew him said.

Several hundred emerged for his funeral, and tens gathered outside, some holding signs protesting the deaths of civilians.

“Every one of us imagined ourselves in that place,” activist Mohammed Estateyeh said outside the Khashakhgi mosque in the Sunni-dominated Beirut neighbourhood of Qasqas after Shaar’s burial. “The picture of Mohammed lying on the ground – and the picture just before the explosion – they were four guys who were just hanging out.”

Estateyeh, of the Muslim Students League in Beirut, printed black-white-and-yellow posters of Shaar, with the Arabic-language hashtag slogan scrawled underneath: “#We-are-not-numbers.”

The slogan caught on online, with some people posting pictures of themselves holding it on Facebook.

Montages of Shaar’s life-then-death photos circulated widely on Facebook and Twitter.

“Kill the person you want to kill – that’s why they invented guns,” Shaar’s former geography teacher Dalal Batrawi wept at the funeral. “If that’s the path you want to take, leave the rest of us alone.”

Earlier Sunday, at a memorial ceremony carried live on Lebanese television, Shaar’s teachers and students from the private Hariri High School – named after an assassinated Sunni former prime minister – described the teen as a bright, goofy student who loved basketball, lasagna and Harry Potter.

Mohammad often bought cookies, croissants and milkshakes for his friends. Friends recalled him chatting with them at 5 a.m. on the instant-message system “Whatsapp.”

“You know what sucks?” his friend Rahaf Jammal said at the memorial, speaking in English. “It’s the fact that he didn’t finish the book I got him for his birthday. He didn’t finish Harry Potter (movies) because he kept asking me to watch it with him.”

“It’s the fact he had his whole future planned out and he couldn’t accomplish anything, because of this stupid, cruel and crappy country.”

The grief over Shaar is given greater resonance by the fears among Lebanese that they are lurching back into the abyss, still battered from their own 15-year war, which ended in 1990.

That civil war was partly ignited by sectarian tensions among Lebanon’s Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Druse minorities.

AP Photo

AP PhotoIn this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 photo, a Lebanese policeman helps 16-year-old Mohammed Shaar who was injured at the scene after a car bomb explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Sunni-Shiite tensions began growing after a powerful car bomb in 2005 killed the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, who called for an end to neighboring Syria’s domination of the country and criticized Syria’s ally Hezbollah.

Hariri’s assassination was followed by over a dozen other assassinations of anti-Syrian figures. His allies blame Syria and Hezbollah for the killings; both deny involvement.

(A cliché disseminated by the opposition March 14, as if all the other car bombings on Hezbollah strongholds in last month were perpetrated against themselves. Blame it on the Wahhabi Saudi monarchy who are the main funding source for all the terrorists factions…)

AP Photo

AP PhotoIn this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 photo, a Lebanese policeman helps 16-year-old Mohammed Shaar who was injured at the scene after a car bomb explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

Although some of the assassinations and attempted assassinations over the past years also targeted Christians, Druse, and Shiaa, Lebanon’s Sunnis have felt the most threatened.

The Sunni community’s leadership is fractured. Religious hardliners preach they are being targeted by a Shiite plot to crush them. Ordinary Sunnis, neither particularly political nor religious, complain they feel marginalized.

Those feelings have sharply grown since Syria’s uprising against President Bashar Assad began three years ago.

Rebels seeking to overthrow Assad are mostly Sunni, and the most powerful are al-Qaida extremists.

Syria’s sectarian splits have enflamed Lebanon’s, with its Sunnis mainly lining up behind Syria’s rebels and its Shiites backing Assad. Hezbollah has dispatched its fighters to shore up Assad’s forces, infuriating opponents in Lebanon.

The result has been violence rooted in Syria’s war.

Two car bombs targeted Sunni worshippers at mosques in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli this year; another two exploded in a Shiite neighborhood in south Beirut. Another twin-bombing targeted the Iranian embassy, apparently to punish Iran for supporting Assad.

Civilians have been the majority of the victims.

Amid the grief, the sectarian sentiments emerge.

At Shaar’s funeral, hundreds of mourners chanting against Hezbollah trapped the country’s top Sunni cleric in the mosque, because he is perceived as sympathetic to the group. Soldiers with assault rifles had to muscle into the mosque to protect Mufti Mohammed Qabani and hustle him into an armored vehicle to get away.

Angry worshippers pelted the soldiers with rocks, eggs and shoes.

Shaar was forgotten amid the mourners’ anger, something not lost on his friends.

People are using his death as an excuse for war,” said his friend Jammal. “But really all we should do is pray, pray, pray, and keep praying.”

AP Photo

AP PhotoIn this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 photo, Lebanese men carry the body of 16-year-old Mohammed Shaar who was injured at the scene after a car bomb explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.
AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

AP Photo/Bilal HusseinLebanese students of the private Hariri High School, named after a prominent assassinated Sunni leader, broadcast a short film about 16-year-old Mohammed Shaar, who was one of seven people killed in a car bomb that ripped through the upscale downtown district of Beirut, during a memorial ceremony, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.
AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

AP Photo/Bilal Hussein A Lebanese friend of 16-year-old Mohammed Shaar, who was one of 7 people killed in a car bomb that ripped through the upscale downtown district of Beirut, is comforted by others as he mourns during a sit-in at the scene of the explosion, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013.

Blast in Beirut: Covered by an US reporter?

A powerful bomb devastated a Christian neighborhood of this capital city of Lebanon on Friday, killing 8 civilians and the targeted intelligence official Gen. Wissam Al Hassan, and injuring over 110 civilians…

In a nearby upstairs apartment, Lily Nameh, 73, said she had been taking a nap with her husband, Ghaleb. “I thought it was an earthquake,” she said. “Suddenly everything was falling on us.” Her husband said, “It felt like a plane landed on the building.”

I have posted several articles on this car explosion in Achrafieh, in east Beirut, and decided to post a typical coverage from a foreigner who needs to satisfy the idiosyncratic message of the New York Times in order to have the piece published.

You feel as if this reporter is not in the mood of comprehending anything: All that this reporter knows is what the editor likes to see published in the Middle-East and the same versions of the Federal Administration wants to convey to the US citizens about this region… I added numbers of the victims of the blast and content between parenthesis are mine…

Bilal Hussein/Associated Press. The explosion at the heart of the Christian section of Beirut on Friday injured many and shattered windows for blocks. More Photos »
ublished on October 19, 2012 in the NYT:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — The blast, which sheared the faces off buildings, killed at least eight people, wounded 110 and transformed a quiet tree-lined street into a scene reminiscent of Lebanon’s long civil war, threatened to worsen sectarian tensions.
By nightfall, black smoke from burning tires ignited by angry men choked the streets of a few neighborhoods in the city, which has struggled to preserve a peace between its many sects, including Sunni, Shiite, Christian and Druse.

Hasan Shaaban/Reuters. A wounded man was helped after the blast.                            More Photos »

Within hours of the attack, the Lebanese authorities announced that the dead included the intelligence chief of the country’s internal security service, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, instantly spurring accusations that the Syrian government had assassinated him for recently uncovering what the authorities said was a Syrian plot to provoke unrest in Lebanon.

“They wanted to get him, and they got him,” said Paul Salem, a regional analyst with the Carnegie Middle East Center.

But if the attack was targeted, the blast was most certainly not. The force of the explosion left elderly residents fleeing their wrecked homes in bloodied pajamas and spewed charred metal as far as two blocks. Residents rushed to help each other amid the debris, burning car wreckage and a macabre scene of victims in blood-soaked shirts.

It was the first large-scale bombing in the country since 2008 and was the most provocative violence here linked to the Syrian conflict since it began 19 months ago.

The attack struck a heavy blow to a security service that had asserted Lebanon’s fragile sovereignty by claiming to catch Syria red-handed in a plan to destabilize its neighbor, which Syria has long dominated.

It threatened to inflame sectarian tensions by eliminating General Hassan, a Sunni Muslim known for his close ties to fellow Sunni politicians (the Hariri clan of the Mustakbal movement) who support the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. General Hassan was viewed by Syrian opposition activists as an ally and protector.

Imad Salamey, a political science professor at Lebanese American University, blamed Mr. Assad’s government and said that the attack seemed intended to show that Syria has the ability to destabilize Lebanon and threaten to embroil the region in chaos.

The Syrian government issued a statement condemning the bombing, quoting the information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, as saying, “These sort of terrorist, cowardly attacks are unjustifiable wherever they occur.”

The attack harked back to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a longtime foe of Mr. Assad’s, in a car bombing in 2005. Syria was widely blamed, and protests in the aftermath of that killing forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, a major blow to its regional influence.

But a series of bombings targeting politicians, journalists and security officials followed, shaking Lebanon and sending the message that Syria’s power still reached deep into its neighbor.

The size and location of the bomb on Friday awakened a general feeling of dread that the Syrian conflict, which has already depressed Lebanon’s economy and sent thousands of Syrian refugees into the country, was coming home to Lebanese civilians, and could set off tit-for-tat killings and reprisals that could spiral out of control.

The blast seemed to accelerate a pattern already established, as the Syrian civil war increasingly draws in the region, crossing the borders of its many neighbors. Recently, a mortar blast from Syria killed civilians in southern Turkey, prompting the Turkish military to respond with artillery strikes into Syria for several days. Jordan has struggled to absorb as many as 180,000 refugees.

Shells have exploded in the disputed Golan Heights region occupied by Israel. Iran has been accused of sending weapons and advisers into Syria to help Mr. Assad.  Saudi Arabia and Turkey have provided weapons and cash to the rebels trying to oust Mr. Assad, and rebels have taken control of border crossings between Syria and Iraq.

In Beirut, there were efforts to tamp down animosities, and keep the peace.

Not far behind the ambulances, politicians arrived at the scene of the blast. They urged Lebanese citizens to resist being drawn into the conflict — but also pointed fingers at Syria and its Lebanese allies in sharp language that seemed as likely to induce anger as to warn against it.

“For the first time, we feel that it is the regular Lebanese citizen who is being targeted in this explosion and, maybe, this is the beginning of what Syrian authorities have promised us in the past,” said Nadim Gemayel, a member of Parliament from the Christian Phalange movement that is part of Lebanon’s opposition March 14 bloc. “The Syrian regime had talked about burning everything in their path.”

As news spread of the bombing, the streets of Beirut’s largely Christian Ashrafiyeh district were initially calm. People walked dogs and escorted children home from school. But they also gathered in small groups warily discussing the bombing and clutched cellphones to share news.

Outside a damaged grocery stood Sandra Abrass, a filmmaker and former Red Cross worker, frustrated that she was not allowed to help on the scene because her skimpy yellow flats were no protection against broken glass, and said she was in pain first for the wounded and then for Lebanon.

“You don’t feel safe any more,” she said. After growing up during the 1975-1991 civil war, she said, she was no longer used to the idea that bombs could go off at any moment, and feared that there would be more bombings and reprisals.

“They cannot let us live happily,” she said.

General Hassan came to prominence as a security chief for the assassinated former prime minister, Mr. Hariri. Early on, he was a suspect in that killing, but later helped build a circumstantial case, based on phone records, that a team from Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shiite organization aligned with Syria, had coordinated the Hariri attack and was at the scene of the murder. Hezbollah, which has since become an important member of Lebanon’s government, claims the records were fabricated.

Another security official, Wissam al-Eid, who helped compile the phone records, was killed in a car bombing in 2008, part of a series of assassinations of political figures, journalists and investigators.

More recently, in August, General Hassan shocked Lebanon by arresting a prominent pro-Syrian politician, Michel Samaha, on charges of importing explosives in a bid to set off bombs and wreak sectarian havoc as part of a Syrian-led plot. It was a surprising move in a country where state institutions have rarely had the power to take on political figures, especially those backed by foreign powers or Lebanese militias.

In a brief interview on Friday, the chief of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, said, “Wissam al-Hassan was targeted because of Samaha’s case.”

The Internal Security Forces have often been seen as allied with Sunni anti-Syrian factions. But Mr. Salem of Carnegie said that General Hassan did not pursue only his friends’ political enemies; he was also credited with disrupting numerous networks of Israeli spies.

Mr. Salem said that General Hassan and his investigators were “one of the bright spots that saw the Syrian influence apparently ebb,” demonstrating that “the Lebanese state was beginning to develop capacities, they could arrest Samaha, they were doing things that a sovereign state does.”

While some anti-Syrian politicians suggested that the bombing was intended to distract from allegations that Hezbollah is fighting on the Syrian government’s side, they stopped short of accusing the party of involvement in the bombing. Several analysts said Hezbollah was unlikely to carry out such an attack, which would threaten its political standing inside Lebanon.

In the bombed neighborhood in Ashrafiyeh district on Friday, Civil Defense officers picked pieces of flesh off a security fence and put them into plastic supermarket bags.

On Friday nights, areas of central Beirut are usually crowded with cars and pedestrians heading out to party. But after the bombing, the usual Friday night traffic jams never materialized, and watering holes that usually send excess crowds on to the sidewalks in neighborhoods known for night life sat quiet and forlorn.

Reporting was contributed by Hwaida Saad, Hania Mourtada and Josh Wood from Beirut, and Christine Hauser and Rick Gladstone from New York.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Blast in Beirut Seen as Extension of Syria Conflict.

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