The following text is translated from the original article in L’Orient Le Jour and entitled ‘Près de 300 intellectuels se mobilisent contre l’émergence d’un « climat fasciste » au Liban‘. Note that the petition is still open so there are more names being added as we speak. For the Arabic version, click here.
This initiative comes after the polemic surrounding refugees that has degenerated in the past two weeks on social media, notably after the death under torture of Syrian detainees, an issue brought up by many human rights organizations in the aftermath of a raid launched by the Lebanese authorities in Arsal refugee camp.
The polemic was quickly replaced by a wave of hatred accompanied by a xenophobic discourse and culminating in a video showing Lebanese citizens beating up a Syrian refugee, men who were later arrested.
Journalist, writer and poet Youssef Bazzi, who is among those at the origin of the petition, explains that “the objective is not only to rise up against ongoing racist practices”. “Beware! A fascist climate, a militaristic and repressive climate, is slowly taking place. It does not merely aim at supporters of the Syrian revolution or at those who oppose Hezbollah’s interference in Syria”, Bazzi tells L’Orient-Le-Jour, adding that Lebanon is currently suffering from power dynamics in Syrian, currently favoring the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
“This climate is an extension of a political atmosphere recently created by those in power, by a political elite that, despite its differences, agrees to remain in power. There exists as well a will to smother any attempts by the civil society to address important topics such as the defense of the constitution, the rule of law, civil liberations and the public order. The problem is therefore not limited to racist practices towards refugees, it goes back to the very essence of our Lebanese identity. Must our identity be compartmentalized and full of hate, or founded on values?”
For the writer, it goes without saying that Lebanese society needs to multiply its cultural, legal, political and humanitarian initiatives to create a real public opinion and reverse the rising trend.
The letter reads:
We, the underlined Lebanese activists, writers, intellectuals, journalists and artists, based on our faith in a Lebanon of freedom, pluralism and that respects human rights, and on our conviction that the national army must be the only armed entity in this country, categorically reject and condemn certain disgusting practices against Syrian civilians that were forced to find refuge in Lebanon.
What follows these practices, such as the campaigns of incitement to hatred against Syrians across social media and in certain media outlets, or via declarations by certain politicians, is no less ugly as the criminal practices themselves. These do not just attack Syrians but the image of Lebanon itself and the conscience of the Lebanese. This does not represent us, but puts us in front of extreme options, including the need to purge our patriotism from its chauvinism. The position adopted towards refugees must become one of the criteria of our patriotism through which we want to consolidate democracy and the respect of human rights.
List of signatories so far [If possible, I would like to add my name to the list]
Ahmad Ismaïl, Ahmad Soueissi, Ahmad Issawi, Ahmad Kaabour, Ahmad Fayçal Sankari, Ahmad Mrad, Oussama Wehbé, Ismaïl Charafeddine, Akram Zaatari, Akram Arawi, Akram Mahmoud Mahmoud, Alexandra Habib, Alexandre Paulikevitch, Élias Bejjani, Élias Khoury, Élias Fawz, Aline Milad el-Chami, Amal Takouch, Émile Menhem, Indira Matar, Antoine Abou Zeid, Antoine Haddad, Antoine Courban, Aya Naboulsi, Élie el-Hage, Ayman Hmeïdane, Ayman Nahlé, Bachar Haïdar, Bachar Ziad Halabi, Béchara Charbel, Béchara Atallah, Paul Taber, Bachir Osmat, Boutros Moawad, Bikr Solh, Bissane el-Cheikh, Taymour Brich, Thaër Ghandour, Jad Yateem, Jacqueline Saad, Jean-Pierre Frangié, Jamal Assi, Joumana Haddad, Jamil Hammoud, Georges Massouh, Joseph Badaoui, Gisèle Khoury, Hazem el-Amine, Hazem Saghiyé, Habib Bzeih, Habib Nassar, Habib Darwiche, Houssam Itani, Hassane Hammoud, Hanna Saleh, Hassan Chami, Hassan Kotb, Hassan Krayem, Khaled Hussein el-Houjeiri, Khaled Sbeih, Khaled Izzi, Khaled Yassine, Dalia Obeid, Dana Kahil, Dalal Bizri, Diana Moukalled, Diala Haïdar, Dima Charif, Dima Krayem, Raëd Abou Chacra, Rached Fayed, Rania Jaroudi, Racha el-Atrache, Racha el-Amir, Rafic Ftouh, Roula Mouwaffaq, Rana Eid, Rana Najjar, Rony el-Assaad, Rayane Maged, Rima Maged, Rim el-Jundi, Rima Nakhel, Rida el-Maoula, Rawan Halaoui, Raëd Bou Hamdane, René Moawad, Rouba Beydoun, Roudeina Baalbacki, Zaki Taha, Zahia Safa, Ziad Maged, Ziad Abdel Samad, Ziad Antar, Zeina Mansour, Tarek Tamim, Tarek Succariyé, Tarek Hawa, Talal Khoury, Ralal Tohmé, Tony Chakar, Tony Francis, Sara Chahine, Salem Maarabouni, Samer Dabliz, Saad Faour, Saoud el-Maoula, Samar Mogharbel, Semaan Khawam, Samir Zaatiti, Samir Alwane, Sanaa Salhab, Siham Harb, Souhail Nasser, Sawsan Abou Zohr, Célina Hamadé, Chadi Hanouche, Charles Chehwane, Chadha Charafeddine, Shirine Abou Chacra, Sobhi Amhaz, Sobhi Mahdi Abdallah, Souhaid Jawhar, Abbas Abou Zeid, Abbas el-Jawhari, Abbas Nasser, Abdel Rahmane Ayyas, Abdel Ghani Imad, Abdallah Haddad, Abdel Mottaleb Bakri, Abdel Nasser Succariyé, Abed Kreidiyé, Abdel Wahhab Badirkhan, Adnane Salamé, Izzat Charara Beydoun, Akl Awit, Ali Ahmad Rabah, Ali el-Hajj Sleimane, Ali el-Sayyed, Ali el-Merhebi, Ali Hajo, Ali Hammoura, Ali Zaraket, Ali Charafeddine, Ali Tayy, Ali Cheaib, Ali Izzeddine, Ali Mohammad Hassan el-Amine, Ali Mrad, Ali Makki, Imad Dirani, Imad el-Chidiac, Imad Ftouh, Imad Komeiha, Omar Harkouss, Ghada Araïbi, Ghita Daher, Fady Toufeily, Fady Toufic, Fady Melhem, Farès Khachane, Farouk Yaacoub, Fatima Houhou, Fatima Mourtada, Firas Abou Hatoum, Fadil Hammoud, Fouad el-Mokaddem, Fouad Salamé, Fawzi Zebiane, Fawzi Ferry, Fawzi Yammine, Kassem Kassir, Kassi Charara, Kamal Aziz Nassif, Chrystelle Khodr, Lokman Slim, Louma Rabah, Luna Safwan, Layla Masri Jundi, Liliane Daoud, Lina Sahhab, Mark Daou, Maria Georges Khayssi, Maher Abou Chacra, Maher Itani, Maya Khadra, Maya Fidawi, Mike Ayyache, Mohsen Hussein, Moustapha Ahmad, Moustapha el-Turk, Moustapha Fahs, Mohammad Ahmad Choumane, Mohammad el-Houjeiri, Mohammad el-Aziz, Mohammad Anouar Baassiri, Mohammad Badawi, Mohammad Chami, Mohammad Chbaro, Mohammad Awada, Mohammad Mekkaoui, Mohammad Mikati, Mohammad Hammoud, Mahmoud Soueid, Mahmoud Doha, Mohammad Kassem, Marwan Abi Samra, Marwan Georges el-Najjar, Massoud Younès, Motaz Fakhreddine, Makram Rabah, Manar Wehbé, Manale Nahhas, Mona Jahami, Mona Khoueiss, Mona Fayad, Mohannad el-Hage Ali, Maha Bidawi, Maha Aoun, Monica Borgmann Slim, Mirella Salamé, Michel Hajji Georgiou, Michel Doueihy, Mayssam Hindi, Mimosa Arawi, Nader Fawz, Nafeh Saad, Nadine Labaki, Nadine Ferghol, Nahed Youssef, Nabil Halabi, Nabil Ismaïl, Nabil Abdel Fattah, Nada Abdel Samad, Nadim Houry, Nadim Koteich, Nehmé Mahfoud, Nawal Moudallali, Nour Blok, Hani Minkara, Hachem Adnane, Hoda Husseini Fayed, Hoda Chehabeddine, Hicham Bou Nassif, Hicham Zeineddine, Hanaa Jaber, Hind Darwish, Hovic Habchian, Hiyam Halawi, Haytham Chamas, Haytham Hilal, Wassef Khalaf, Wadih Mazraani, Wissam Saadé, Walid Hussein, Walid Fakhreddine, Yakzan Takki, Yorgi Tayrouz, Youssef el-Khalil, Youssef Bazzi et Yolla el-Hage.