November 1, 2011
So last week = Peaceful, open-minded co-existence among various ethnic groups.
The hot new thing = Racism.
Forget that generalizations are unproductive and foster an unfairly negative image of most people. And just ignore the fact that falsely typifying the complicated social, cultural and economic relations between various groups only reinforces stereotypes.
If you’re walking down a street in Bourj Hammoud and you see someone who looks like they might *not* be Lebanese, you should just go ahead and report them to the police because the Tashnaq Party is kicking foreigners out of the Beirut suburb.
The supposed reasons behind the decision are all over the place:
1. A crackdown on illegal immigrants
“The municipality has asked foreign workers – whether they are Syrian, Egyptian, Sri Lankan or Filipino – especially those who do not have identification papers and official or registered lease contracts, to evacuate the region,” Tashnaq Party leader MP Hagop Pakradounian told An-Nahar newspaper on Monday.
2. A crackdown on criminal activity
The deputy head of the Kurdish Charity, Mahmoud Siyala, told Al-Mustaqbal newspaper on Sunday that Tashnaq officials want the Kurds out of Bourj Hammoud, Dora and Nabaa by Monday for alleged “drug use and acts that undermine public order.”
3. Punishment for participation in anti-Assad protests
Future News television quoted several Syrian Kurdish people as saying that they were being evicted after members of certain families “participated in protests against the Syrian regime” in front of the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.
4. “Urban Renewal”
By late Monday, the Tashnaq Party had denied reports it was kicking the Kurds [specifically] out of the neighborhood and instead chalked up the issue to a “reorganization of the area.”
Not-so-coincidentally, the big brouhaha over foreigners in the neighborhood comes just two weeks after MTV aired an essentially racist report about racism in Bourj Hammoud.
The piece accused foreigners of transforming the area into a hub for crime, prostitution and drugs. “At first glance you would not think you’re in Lebanon, but in a Kurdish state or some Asian country,” reporter Raquel Mubarak tells viewers.
And then various Lebanese residents explain the problems happening:
(1:04) “I can’t let my wife or daughter go down the street. On the street, at the entrance of buildings, wherever we go, there is sexual misconduct and harassment and this is something we will not stand for.”
(1:31) “At night you find whatever you want. Ethiopian women, Filipinas who have Equamet [residency visa]… all kinds of sexual indecency.”
(1:42) “Look at what’s happening. There are all kinds of people [coming here]. On Saturdays and Sundays this street becomes a whore market.”
The perpetuation of racist ideologies coming from individuals who are likely themselves marginalized and who have also experienced racism and oppression?
Oh, come on.
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